East Aurora's Board of Education (BOE) has an open seat that needs to be filled as a result of board member John Sigeti stepping down from the BOE. WNY Students First has been informed by sources in the district that the BOE was aware by at least May 1st, several weeks before the May 18th election, that Mr. Sigeti would need to resign due to his move out of the district.
This raises a number of important questions. First, why wasn't this information made public prior to the election? And, perhaps more importantly, why wasn't the community given the opportunity to vote for someone to replace Mr. Sigeti's seat on May 18th? These questions are troubling, but more concerning is the effort currently underway by the BOE to choose the new board member in secret, without transparency and input from the community.
According to the East Aurora Advertiser, “There’s already an indication that they want to interview candidates behind closed doors, because the two meeting notices that have been released about opening applications and interviewing candidates state that the board anticipates going into executive session. They are also both going to be held in the superintendent’s office with limited space compared to the multi-purpose room at the middle school where board meetings typically take place, also indicating the school board does not plan on having an audience.”
The decision regarding who fills this seat should be in the hands of the voters in the community, not at the sole discretion of the board members. Such an egregious action would likely create significant conflicts of interest at the BOE. The attempt by the BOE to mislead voters prior to the election and the subsequent decision to unilaterally appoint Mr. Sigeti’s replacement reflects the poor governance practices at the BOE.
WNY Students First agrees with the East Aurora Advertiser Editorial Board in that the 543 votes for BOE candidate Debra Chmielowiec should not be disregarded. These votes should matter. In fact, if the BOE had placed the now vacant seat up for a vote in May as they clearly should have, Mrs. Chmielowiec would have properly been elected to the BOE this year.
If the East Aurora BOE continues with their current applicant selection process, they are doing so in the face of the entire East Aurora community. During a year in which the public’s trust in leadership at every level has been eroded, it is more important than ever for the East Aurora BOE to make decisions that are in the interests of all stakeholders and reflect proper governance standards.
East Aurora parents should have a voice, and that voice should be included in filling this vacant Board seat.
WNY Students First requests that the East Aurora BOE make this process public and transparent, and rightfully include input from the community as should have happened in May.
WNY Students First