The South Huntington Board of Education appointed PTA Council president Laura Carey Wednesday night to complete the unexpired term of Assemb.-elect Chad Lupinacci.
Carey, who has two children in the district, is in her second year as council president. After the board meeting, she said she expected to resign the PTA position in the next few months and said she was honored to be asked to serve on the board.
The appointment was not without dispute, however, as members of the audience and trustees debated the process, though not the merits, of Carey's appointment.
Board president James Kaden said the board had three options to consider: Conduct a special election, leave the seat open until May or appoint a temporary trustee. Leaving the seat empty, meaning a board vote could conceivably end in a 3-3 tie, and a special election, because of its cost, were quickly set aside.
Trustee Ed Nitkewicz announced he wanted to appoint Carey, repeating his personal endorsement of her that he had made several days ago at a PTA Council. His earlier move led members of the audience Wednesday night to pose multiple questions about his role in endorsing her, the effect on other possible candidates or whether the community had been informed sufficiently that an appointment might occur.
Kaden said that while he "would have preferred to discuss the process," he supported Carey's appointment.
Trustee Lisa Brieff objected to the process and argued for sending letters out to district residents, informing them of the opening and inviting applicants for appointment.
Members of the audience were vocal about the process, even as many praised Carey for her work with the PTA.
"I think it was just the procedure. It just seemed kind of sneaky," one woman said. "If you're giving a recommendation, who would want to challenge her? It affects everyone else in the audience."
Board vice president Nick Ciappetta said, "We need a person in the position as soon as possible. We now have a nomination on the floor. We're not prepared to vote against her for the sake of process.
"I don’t think this is an ordinary candidate. She’s somebody by vitrtue of her position has the respect of the community. she’ll work hard for our students. And that’s our only criteria."
Five trustees then voted to her appoint her, with Brieff abstaining. She was immediately invited to sit with the board while the board and members of the audience applauded.
Let Patch save you time. Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Just as the debate wrapped up, Lupinacci appeared and read his letter of resignation to the board before receiving a plaque and gifts from trustees and took some ribbing about his abilities to pack and stay organized.
He will take office in January as the representative of the 10th Assembly District. He was elected in November to fill the seat left vacant by the death of James Conte.