The abrupt resignation last week of a longtime Eastport South Manor Board of Education member has left many unanswered questions, both from parents and school administrators.
Janet Stevens, who served on the board for eight years, notified District Clerk Sharon Murray of her resignation on Friday, July 26, a year shy of completing her third three-year term.
In a letter to the editor published in this week’s edition of The Press, Ms. Stevens said that “ethically” she could not reveal her reasons for stepping down before thanking her fellow board members and school administrators.
When reached by phone on Monday, Ms. Stevens declined to share any more details about her resignation, and again raised questions by using ambiguous terms to describe her decision.
“There is a lot I can’t say because of confidentiality,” she said. “I’m going to maintain my integrity and not breach that confidentiality.”
Ms. Stevens, who lives in Manorville, added that stepping down was a difficult decision and that it was a personal choice unrelated to the other Board of Education members.
“I really, ethically, had no choice,” she said. “I love my other board members—they’re wonderful people. It had nothing to do with them.
“I wish the students of ESM and the faculty all my love,” she continued.
Superintendent of Schools Mark Nocero said Tuesday that he could not shed any light on Ms. Stevens’s sudden resignation.
“Ms. Stevens served on the board for eight years, and on behalf of the ESM school community, I’d like to thank her for her service and wish her all the best moving forward,” he said.
Board of Education President Kenneth Cooke said her resignation came as a surprise.
“She has devoted many years of service to the board,” Mr. Cooke said. “She did a great job, and I was sorry to hear that when she resigned, and I sent her a letter to that effect.”
Mr. Nocero explained that board members will discuss their options at their next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, at 7 p.m., at the Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School in Manorville. The board can fill the seat by appointing a new member, or it can choose to hold a special election up to 90 days after Ms. Stevens’s resignation. In either case, the new board member would hold the seat until June 30, 2014, meaning he or she would have to seek election next May.
Mr. Cooke added that board members are consulting with attorneys to determine whether they have the option of leaving the seat vacant until the next election.