William Leder and James Reddan were appointed as president and vice president of the Elmont Union Free School District, respectively, during the Sewanhaka Central High School board of education meeting on Tuesday night.
Joanne Murnane was also re-appointed as district clerk.
Leder replaces Michael Jaime from the Elmont School District.
Multiple community members throughout the year were critical of Jaime for his previous use of an Elmont School bus to travel to the Javitz Center in New York City for the Obama Foundation’s Democracy Forum.
No district students were on the bus in November for the event, which featured former President Obama speaking.
Earlier this year, Jaime himself made a $600 donation to the district’s general fund budget which was used to cover the cost of using the bus.
“I’m pleased to report that the cabinet and I met, and I received excellent feedback from the building committee,” Dolan said. “We’ve already met with a dozen candidates who were recommended to us and are now in the process of doing some important research on a few of these candidates, reserving the right to invite some in for some additional discussion. It is our plan to bring them to the board over the next two weeks to be interviewed and appointed.”
He said that following the concerns that were raised by parents in response to the initial candidates, a new parent committee was formed.
“They interview over two nights H. Frank Carey and Elmont,” he said, “and the feedback I’ve received on those candidates is that there were some that were very well received by that second parent committee.”
Calling the process “our highest priority as we begin the summer,” Dolan said that further meetings will be held to discuss the candidates towards the end of the month, meaning that there is a likelihood of having the principals appointed to both of the buildings well before the start of the new school year.
Dolan previously served as a central office administrator and principal of one of the district’s high schools and was an interim president of Nassau Community College. He also served as superintendent of the Great Neck School District.
Also mentioned was the search for a permanent superintendent of the Sewanhaka Central High School District, one of which “will heavily rely on the community.”
“There are several search firms — and I’ve worked with a few of them previously — that the board will interview and then publicly appoint the search firm chosen,” Dolan said. “My experience has been that the search firm needs to begin early in the year in order to allow for sufficient community involvement and to try to be among the very first districts to do so. We are in a good position to achieve that and the board president or I will have updates on our progress throughout the year.”
Several parents of students within the school district commended the board on their collaborative efforts with the community, with PTSA president of Elmont Memorial High School Lynette Battle saying, “I want to thank the board for hearing the parents when we said to go back to the drawing board and to cast a wider net [of candidates]. The second round [of interviews] was way better.”
The choosing of a new mascot for Sewanhaka High School was discussed as well, with Dolan explaining how a committee of community members, faculty, alumni and students has been developed to assist in the process that “could be completed by November.”
The mascot change is the result of a non-funded state mandate voted on by New York State in April, prohibiting the use of indigenous names and imagery in all New York public schools, requiring the changes to be made by the end of the 2024-25 school year.
Dolan has recommended to the board to consider using a firm to assist in the data collection and the facilitation of those meetings.
Some parents and residents also spoke to the board regarding the possible implementation of live streams of the board meetings held throughout the district, which they expressed would benefit those who live far from the schools, second-language speakers and those who simply cannot find time to attend the meetings in person. The board said that the issue will be a conversation in upcoming meetings.