I believe that we have a conflict of interest currently facing our Board of Education.
It is my understanding that Ms. Staropoli, is now married to Ms. Deborah Dormady, our Interim Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education. https://www.theknot.com/us/beth-staropoli-and-deb-dormady-jun-2016
As a board member, Ms. Staropoli made a promise to the taxpayers of our school district to examine issues such as budgets, district salaries, pensions, and taxes to pay for them, in a fair and impartial manner.
But this was before she was married to a current employee of our School District.
Presently, it does not seem possible for Ms. Staropoli to remain impartial about district salaries and pensions now that those decisions will directly affect her spouse.
There is a conflict of interest here, between Ms. Staropoli’s obligation to the taxpayers, and her obligation to her spouse, an employee of our school district and a recipient of a salary and benefits package negotiated in part, by Ms. Staropoli.
But there is another problem.
Ms. Dormady is an administrator in our district, with substantial responsibilities to our Special Education population. I don’t have to remind this board of the problems we have faced as a district regarding the appropriate allocation of services for our children enrolled in Special education.
But this year, when the allocation of resources and revenues are discussed by this board, how will Ms. Staropoli maintain her impartial stance and responsibility to the taxpayer, if she is married to the person who may very well be advocating for the needs of parents and children, in opposition to the desires of taxpayer?
And while there may be no legal issues in play here, on face, there are certainly relational and ethical issues that need to be ironed out.
It seems to me, that the only way that these conflicts of interest can be avoided is for Ms. Staropoli to recuse herself from any discussion or vote by the BOE, regarding the issues of district salaries and pensions, and regarding issues concerning the funding of Special Education. She should probably also avoid any and all committee work regarding these issues as well.
There is precedent for this concern. 5 years ago, Mark Chernis resigned from this Board upon becoming CEO of Person Educational Company, a company that provides K-12 technology initiatives to schools. In his resignation letter, he cited the potential for conflicts of interest to arise.
I am not asking for her resignation. I am asking for a recusal.
I ask the board of education to consider this issue, and to resolve it as quickly as possible.