2017-07-14 / Front Page

School Board member Laura Hastings resigns

BY RIKKI N. MASSAND

With Garden City governed by four property owners’ associations in the village, the tradition of five school board trustees with one from each POA as well as an at-large trustee has been fractured, if just for the summer months, by a sudden resignation.

Last Thursday night Garden City District Clerk and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Dana DiCapua told the board and a few dozen residents that since the board last met on Tuesday, June 13, she received a letter of resignation from School Board Trustee Laura Hastings, effective from June 15.

No reason behind her resignation was commented on at the board’s July meeting, and Hastings was not present. Her nameplate at the board table was gone and her name did not appear on the July 6 meeting agenda. An agenda item, approved that night, provided a board resolution and a certificate of appreciation for Hastings’ service. However minutes before the July 6 meeting began, a district employee told the News Hastings informed the board she wouldn’t be able to attend that night to accept her certificate of appreciation.

School Board President Angela Heineman soon offered thanks and well wishes for Hastings.

“You will notice there is a certificate of appreciation on our agenda tonight for Laura’s years of dedicated service to this district and the children of Garden City. It has been a privilege to serve with her and we wish her all the best,” she said.

Heineman then announced that for the Board of Education’s next meeting on Tuesday night, August 8, the task of moving forward to fill the void Hastings leaves will be addressed. “When we’ve had vacancies in the past the board has opened up to the public and asked for letters or interest and/or resumes to be sent to the board. The board has interviewed interested candidates before. We have not had time to process this but I’d like to put this item of addressing the board trustee vacancy on our August agenda to have a full discussion in public as to what our plan might be,” Heineman said.

During the public comment period, Heineman alluded to a series of interviews for candidates already taking place as of July 6. The four members of the board spent the afternoon with their annual board retreat sandwiched between two separate executive sessions, starting at 3 p.m. The regular board meeting began at 8:15. She was considering the College Latin (Latin IV) course that many parents and students came out to talk about that evening when she brought up a thought from earlier in the day.

“I was thinking about this situation with College Latin and one of the candidates tonight when we held board interviews asked ‘what is it that you as a school board are most proud of in the district?’ My answer was one thing that we have worked very hard at over the last 10 to 12 years is that we want to provide opportunities for all our students, regardless of their ability level, to not just find their passion but to challenge themselves to create great success,” Heineman said.

Before the College Latin dialogue the board president asked school district attorney Bonnie Gorham of Guercio & Guercio LLP to explain the board’s options at this time. She laid out the possibilities.

“The board of education has three options when addressing the vacancy on the board. The first option is the board may appoint an individual to fill the vacancy and they would serve until the next regular district election – in May of 2018. At that point the vacated seat would also be put up for election and the person elected would serve the remainder of the unexpired term immediately following the election. The second option is for the board a special election to fill the unexpired term within 90 days of the resignation, and that person would take office upon election and serve the remainder of the unexpired term. The third option is to leave the seat vacant until the next annual election which is again in May 2018, and the seat would be filled following the election,” Gorham said.

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