June 11, 2013 | 2 comments | 365 views
Malverne trustee seeks legal recourse against board
Gina Genti — a Malverne mother who served as a Board of Education trustee for four years, until she chose not to run in the recent election — filed a petition to the New York State Supreme Court on May 17, asking the court to review actions taken against her by the board after an investigation of her conduct.
The investigation was initiated last November by the board’s attorney, Ingerman Smith, at the behest of the board.
Genti, 48, told the Herald that she was first shunned by fellow members, and then investigated by Smith because she asked too many probing questions of the board. She remains a member of the board until her term is up in September, but her participation in board activities has been sharply curtailed.
Starting in 2010, Genti said, she questioned the appointment of another trustee’s daughter to the board by Superintendent Dr. James Hunderfund; a proposed extension of the superintendent’s salary to the allowable $225,000 limit; and the tax cap levy in the district’s budget. She was accused of “harassing” other board members, and Smith’s investigation confirmed that charge.
Genti denies the harassment claims, describing Smith’s report as “one-sided,” and maintains that she simply asked questions that needed to be answered, exercising her right to seek information as a school board member.
She added that she strove to improve the Malverne district by directly communicating with residents and staff after she was elected in 2009, by investigating board decisions and publicizing issues through local and social media, including the Facebook page “I Love Malverne But Want More From Its Schools.”
“When you live in a school district that has placed in the … highest tax tier in Nassau County, but in the lowest quartile of academic performance, you can tell there is a disconnect that needs to be addressed,” Genti said, adding, “My questions were mainly about financial aspects, and the residents who elected me wanted those answers.”