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Top Stories 2017: After resignations, Riverhead school board appointed new members

Two longtime members of the Riverhead Board of Education — Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Amelia Lantz — resigned in June, citing quarrels among members and procedural violations. 

In her resignation letter, Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said she felt the school board had “acted contrary to New York State Education Law and the Open Meetings Law in appointments made outside of the regular BOE meetings,” an issue Ms. Lantz also raised in her resignation.

Both women said new tenure laws that took effect in July 2015 required that people moving from administrative positions back to classroom teaching either resign or file a leave of absence from the administrative position, barring them from having tenure in both positions and forcing them to go through a probationary period before receiving tenure.

Following their departures, the board was faced with three options to fill their vacant seats. One option was to hold a special election, allowing the public to choose people to serve the remaining year in Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse’s term and the two years left in Ms. Lantz’s.

Another option was to leave the seats vacant until the May 2018 election, effectively dropping the board from seven members to five. The last option, which the board ultimately went with, was to appoint people to fill the positions.

After giving the public two weeks to submit applications, the board announced Aug. 15 that the seats would be filled by Ron Fisher and Byron Perez. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Perez were chosen out of a pool of 12 candidates, board president Greg Meyer said at the time.

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File photo: Amelia Lantz. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)