Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Editorial

Superintendent change hints at board strife

Bee Editorial

Many decisions are made behind closed doors — the paths of which the public can only speculate.

Much speculation surrounded a more-than-90-minute-long executive session at the start of Monday’s West Seneca Board of Education meeting.

Only 10 minutes into the public meeting, the board excused itself for an executive session on “the employment of a particular person,” leaving interim Superintendent Whitney Vantine to sweat it out, quite literally, as the boardroom was not air-conditioned.

More than an hour later, the newly appointed board president returned to call Vantine away. Within another hour’s time, Vantine had been terminated. He collected his things from the boardroom and left without a word.

The board would not comment on the specific reason for his termination, citing “contractual” issues as an excuse to avoid explanation. When asked for information regarding Vantine’s contract, “No comment” and “FOIL it” were the responses. The latter refers to filing a Freedom of Information Law request.

These responses are mostly noteworthy because they follow a brief moment of infighting and power play, which set the tone as the board appointed new officers.

At the start of the meeting, the board’s annual reorganization session, newly appointed President Carol Jarczyk said, “I promise to my fellow board members that I will share everything with them that I know. I won’t make any moves unless they tell me to move. … In the spirit of unity, I can see us moving forward, I can see us doing a lot of great things that we’ve talked about for a while.” Immediately following the statement, former President Kate Newton, who had earlier declined nomination for re-election as president, saying she’d prefer to partner with Jarczyk as vice president, was shot down by Jarczyk’s tie-breaking vote.

The action lent an air of revenge to events that were already shrouded in mystery.

Shots were additionally fired by a union representative at both the old board and Vantine — mixed with comments of hope for a better future.

Amid the murky waters that have become the West Seneca Board of Education, one thing is abundantly clear: Information has been withheld, and will likely continue to be withheld.

A new — and permanent — superintendent is needed, one with a clear conscience and with no ties to the current School Board.

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