Member Resigns, Says BOE Is Like a Ship That Can't Be Righted

Gregg Schiavoni is the second Sag Harbor School District board member to step down in less than a year.

Less than one year into his second term on the Sag Harbor School Board, Gregg Schiavoni called it quits, citing disrespect and closed discussions as reasons for his resignation.

He is the second board member to step down in less than one year.

Last week, in a letter to Mary Adamczyk, the district clerk, Schiavoni said board members don't communicate honestly or respectfully and that a large part of the board's executive session discussion actually should be done in the public realm. "At this point, I feel I have nothing else to offer the Board of Education. I enjoyed my time serving, but see the Board moving in the wrong direction and it is a ship that can't be righted," he wrote.

The board of education accepted his resignation at a meeting Wednesday.

"Board members talk over one another, interrupt one another and show little to no respect by talking under one's breath or making insulting/disparaging remarks," he wrote.

Despite two board retreats on this topic, he said he saw no improvement. "It got so bad on a few occasions, even our attorney had to raise his voice to be heard when asked a question as he was interrupted, not once, but twice by multiple board members," he wrote. He said he even sent the attorney an apology on Jan. 15 for the board's actions.

Schiavoni said he feels that personal agendas entered the discussion and that 75 percent of the executive agenda dialogue should be done publicly. "On one occasion, we actually went around the room to see how we would all vote on a coaching position!" he said. "The BOE has recently spent a great deal of time, in Exec Session, discussing the bond proposal, LandTek and the school calendar, to name a few items, and each of those topics should have been for public discussion."

Theresa M. Samot, the president of the board of education, issued a statement thanking Schiavoni for his years of service.

"Much of Gregg's letter is his opinion, which he is entitled. While the board may not share those opinions, we stay open to diverse views and suggestions," she said, adding that the continue to try and act professionally. "There is no doubt that the board at times grapples with different decisions, often debating such issues with passion — but always with the singular purpose of "doing the right thing."

Reached last week, Schiavoni said he will remain an active member of the school community, as he has two sons in school.

In July, just two months after Walter Wilcoxen was re-elected — at the same time voters also re-elected Schiavoni — he declined to take the oath of office, citing the board's internal strife.

In a letter that appeared on Patch, Wilcoxen wrote: "For the last year and a half there has been very little trust and no dedication to consensus building but there has been mistrust, scheming, grandstanding, blindsiding, and micromanaging. Suffice it to say after 6 years I no longer have the patience or positive mental attitude and it would be better for someone who does to take my seat."

Susan Kinsella, a former school board member, was appointed to fill Wilcoxen's seat in September.

The board has not yet decided whether to fill Schiavoni's seat or to wait until the annual election in May.

John Gratto handed in his resignation as the district superintendent the same night as Wilcoxen, and that came just three months after business director Janet Verneuille's resigned in May 2012 to take a job in the private sector.

How do you feel about Schiavoni's reasons for resigning? Tell us in the comments below.

MARTIN DREW March 13, 2013 at 01:07 PM
The BOE in its entirety should resign and the public it serves hold a emergency election and people who want reform ; accountabity ; and fiscal responsibility should be sought by public to be candidates ... Teachers salaries are draining budgets . Time for accountabilty to the bottomline . The BOE needs a total overhaul when a ship is sinking and the creww refuses to save the ship .. remove them and replace with new crew ready to save the company vessel (the taxpayers are the company ) as the nece$$ary cour$e of action ... End the $tranglehold the$e current crew have on our ve$$le... it$ obviou$ by the recent re$ignation$ thecrew is not able to get the job done required of the company (u$) .. The $hip mu$t be $aved at ALL co$t$! Fire this crew of arrogsnce!
Arnold Timer March 13, 2013 at 01:37 PM
It sounds as though the BOE is just a micro version of the Federal government. I am beginning to think recent generations simply don't have the strength of character to serve in elected positions where the public's interest must be placed before their own agendas. I expect we are doomed as a country and this comes as no surprise to me.
Thomas Mackey March 13, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Gregg Schiavoni is a man of integrity. The fact that he left after having ample time to analyze the ethnomethodology of the board, and clearly endeavored to bring more transparency to its conduct, is indicative of a significant problem board-wide. Gregg should be lauded for his commitment to the community, and his willingness to publicly step aside in order to bring more attention to the problem. He put the needs of the students before his own agenda. The Sag Harbor School Board lost exactly the kind of man they needed to keep. Congratulations, Gregg, on a job well done.
Hazel Wilkonson the First March 13, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Local school boards should be abolished
Tony G March 14, 2013 at 12:11 AM
Or perhaps, better yet, YOU should be abolished Ms/Mr hazel


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »