DeVito resigns from Riverhead school board

06/22/2011 12:32 AM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Riverhead school board member Angela DeVito, pictured here at a school board meeting earlier this year, tendered her resignation during Tuesday night's board meeting.

A heated debate on a potential multi-million dollar bond for facility upgrades at Riverhead school buildings and grounds ended with one Riverhead school board member to tendering her resignation Tuesday night.

The announcement that Angela DeVito would no longer serve on the seven-member board as of June 30 came at around 9 p.m., two hours into the nearly three-hour long Riverhead school board meeting.

Board members were discussing either expanding the current gymnasium or adding a second gym at the high school, neither of which are included in the latest $78.5 million proposal that is being discussed.

School board vice president Greg Meyer, members Jeff Falisi and Tim Griffing Jr. have all said they would like to see additional gym space included in the bond proposal. Mr. Meyer has said that athletic teams do not have the proper facilities for practice, and Mr. Griffing said holding games and events at the elementary school gyms was impractical.

Representatives from BBS Architects & Engineers, the Patchogue-based company that designed the blueprints for the additions, have said another gym would add about $4.5 million to the proposal.

School board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse, members Amelia Lantz, Kathy Berezny and Ms. DeVito have not publicly expressed interest in adding gym space.

“Do you think by building a $4.5 million gym, we are going to solve these problems?” Ms. DeVito, an outspoken and often inquisitive board member, asked director of athletics Bill Groth.

Mr. Groth said it would alleviate many of the spacing issues.

Ms. Cotten-Degrasse then suggested putting the athletic additions as a separate referendum on the ballot, something Mr. Griffing said he would oppose.

“You don’t support athletics, you support the arts,” he said to Ms. DeVito. “Everything I hear coming out of your mouth is negative.”

Moments later, Ms. DeVito announced her resignation.

Community member and school district watchdog Laurie Downs took the podium before the meeting’s end to remind Mr. Griffing that the proposal was the suggestion of the district’s 50-plus member Community Partnership for Revitalization team, made up of taxpayers and district employees, and not Ms. DeVito.

Mr. Falisi and Mr. Griffing both said they did not mean to disrespect members of the committee. Mr. Meyer, who works as a firefighter at Brookhaven National Laboratory, had left to go to work moments earlier.

Ms. Cotten-Degrasse asked to schedule a meeting next Tuesday for the board to continue the discussion.

“If we sit and bicker over this now … we will never get this to fruition,” she said.

District officials have said they would like to put the plan before the public for a vote this fall. A $123 million plan for district upgrades was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in February 2010.

Ms. DeVito was first elected to the school board in 2003. She is also involved in the Jamesport Civic Association and has worked on commissions for Governor Andrew Cuomo.

[email protected]



15 Comment

  • Laurie Downs is a “school district watch dog” ?

    Then no wonder this district is so screwed up.

    How would a high school educated [at best] , tattooed, ill informed woman like that help or aid kids in school? Am I missing something?

  • Did we see you at the meeting last night?

  • guess she is pulling a “newt Gingrich ” taking her Stuff and goin home , the next headline will be about how when on the board you cant say whats really on your mind so once off you get the right to free speech again ,
    i think people elected her to do and finish the job , quitters lose credibility

  • You must be a Sean Walter watchdog then, right???

  • Wow Riverheader, you’re very brave making anonymous ad hominem attacks.

    Let’s see, you make vicious personal attacks, make “enlightened” judgements based on superficial characteristics, and equate a degree with intelligence.

    With thug tactics like that, I think it’s safe to say you’re either a member of the teachers union or one of their enablers.

    The taxpayers are going to empty the trough you have your snout in and of course, we all know what happens to pigs like you in the end, don’t we Riverheader?

  • What the hell are you talking about? Gingrich didn’t quit, his staff did, but don’t let facts get in the way.

    Weiner would have been a much better example, but my guess is that you’re one of his fans.

  • Good, I’m glad she supports the arts! It’s nice to see that someone did after Mr. Roberts (the H.S. Choir Instructor) retired in 2002. That’s one of the diverse after school activities that Riverhead CSD should be proud of, including sports. I preferred the arts in hs.. I SUCKED at sports, and through the pursuit of singing, I found that I could relate to others with a simple melody… for music is a universal language, which evokes a response from everyone.

  • Wow. I won’t miss Ms. DeVito on the school board. Finally, with DeVito and Scricca out, we can hope some of the cronyism will stop in Riverhead.
    Regardless, we (the Riverhead taxpayers) also need to wise up. Meyer, Falisi and Griffing are trying so hard to get this new gym at the high school. For what? The facilities we currently have are adequate. We don’t need to keep up with the Joneses. Have you seen the beautiful new gym at ESM? Neither have I, and I don’t really care.
    The idea of the gym bond being a separate one is a GREAT idea. Then the Riverhead voters can vote on the gym itself. Instead, the guys on the board INSIST that the gym be a part of the larger bond. At least the rest of the bond is to renovate the infrastructure of the schools, most of which is truly needed. But if the “new gym” is PART of the larger bond, then a vote for a new roof is also a vote for the gym. That may not be what everyone wants, and it is definitely NOT what I want. But it is what Meyer, Falsis and Griffing are hoping for. And, if you talk negatively about the gym, they will say, “oh, you don’t want to pass the bond vote? You must not like children.” Of course, we like children. But not a pork-filled bond.
    Sure, sports are important. I have three school-age children myself, here in Riverhead. And heck, my kids even play sports. But it turns out that while safe schools (bond issue) and a new roof (bond issue) and handicap-accessibility (bond issue) will affect virtually ALL students, A NEW GYM WILL ONLY REALLY BENEFIT A FEW. For the vast majority of students, a new gym will be anew gym, it will NOT make their lives better at school or out.
    Improvements that affect academics influence ALL of the students.
    Gym improvements or a new gym may be necessary at some time, but now is not that time. Can YOU afford it?
    Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes, Riverhead.

  • Your Welcome

  • You are very appreciated, Laurie, keep it up!