Long-absent member expected to attend April 28 meeting Central Valley - Although he sold his home in Highland Mills last month and he hasn’t been at a school board meeting at all this year, Raymond Rivera remains a member of the Monroe-Woodbury School Board. School Board President Dr. Michael DiGeronimo reported at Wednesday’s school board meeting that “the sale of Rivera’s home alone provides no evidence of Mr. Rivera’s abandonment of his commitment to this community ... Mr. Rivera has informed us that he is not planning on resigning his seat as a trustee of the Monroe Woodbury Board of Education. He explains that he just closed on his house in New York and is in the process of deciding where his family and he will permanently reside.” DiGeronimo added that Rivera is expected to attend the board’s special meeting on Thursday, April 28. Rivera is a retired New York City Police detective now in the last year of his three-year board term. He has reportedly moved to Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina with his wife and children and, according to his posting on LinkedIn, a business-related social networking site on the Web, he lists his interests as security and investigations. Board member Theresa Budich first raised the question of Rivera’s whereabouts at the board’s meeting in March. She asked whether there will be three seats open in this year’s school board election in May - or four if Rivera was no longer a member. Incumbents Wayne Chan, Eleni Kikiras Carter and Jennifer Trumper are up for re-election. The deadline to file petitions to get on the ballot is Monday, April 18. Three seats in May’s election So it appears there will be only three seats up for election next month when voters also will decide on a proposed $149 million budget that will increase the tax levy by less than three percent and on a second proposition to purchase 10 new school buses. Should Rivera decide to permanently relocate elsewhere before his term expires in June 2012, the school board would appoint a replacement. In his remarks, DiGeronimo pointed out that, technically speaking, Rivera had missed only two meetings since the beginning of the year, and each time he had informed the district clerk and the school board president that he could not make the public session. This is the routine other school board members follow when the occasion arises, he said. The school board president also noted that other meetings had been cancelled and rescheduled because of snowstorms and such. Rescheduling meetings to accommodate all school board members is difficult, he added. Rivera, he said, had conflicts or prior commitments on the rescheduled dates. Some housekeeping will be needed prior to Rivera’s return later this month. The U-shaped table where the school board members sit in public session at the Education Center in Central Valley was recently reconfigured to eliminate the place where Rivera sat.
In his own words Here is the text of message M-W School Board President Dr. Michael DiGeronimo read at Wednesday’s meeting on the status of board member Raymond Rivera: It is the Board of Education’s responsibility to ensure the active participation of all its Trustees. At the March 28, 2011 Board of Education meeting, questions were raised concerning the status of Mr. Raymond Rivera; a Trustee who serves his community with an unflinching commitment to the children, families, employees and taxpayers of this district. Technically, there are seven reasons under which a board member’s seat may be vacated; 1) missing three consecutive meetings without reasonable excuse, 2) resigning as a Trustee, 3) removal by the Commissioner of Education, 4) death, 5) refusal to serve, 6) incapacity and 7) abandoning residency. None of these conditions presently apply to Mr. Rivera. The facts are that Mr. Rivera, a distinguished gold shield detective of the New York City Police Department, is a hard working and trusted Board member for nearly two years. Although his home has been recently sold, that sale only closed during the third week in March 2011. Before the sale, Mr. Rivera only missed two meetings this school year. Both times, he informed the District Clerk and me before the meetings were held that he would not be present, which is common practice for all Board members if they are unable to make a meeting. We had no reason to question any of the reasons offered by Mr. Rivera for missing those meetings. He was also planning on attending the regularly scheduled March 23, 2011 Board of Education meeting, but the meeting was cancelled because of a snowstorm. The meeting was then rescheduled for Monday, March 28, 2011, which Mr. Rivera could not attend due to a prior commitment. The rescheduling of a board meeting frequently results in not having all the Trustees present. Since the sale of Mr. Rivera’s house, the Board is pursuing its fiduciary responsibility for determining Mr. Rivera’s Board status. While it is true that the Board of Education has an obligation to the taxpayers, we have another obligation to our community, which is to avoid a knee-jerk approach to the process. The Board has to perform the procedure in a fair, non-partisan and legal manner. Mr. Rivera is a duly elected official and the Board has a legal and ethical obligation to ensure the fidelity of the process. It is important that the rights of the people who voted for him are protected against the potential political agenda of a few people. While the sale of his home alone provides no evidence of Mr. Rivera’s abandonment of his commitment to this community, the Board of Education has already contacted Mr. Rivera to inquire of his intentions. Mr. Rivera has informed us that he is not planning on resigning his seat as a trustee of the Monroe Woodbury Board of Education. He explains that he just closed on his house in New York and is in the process of deciding where his family and he will permanently reside. He plans on attending the April 28, 2011 Special Meeting of the Board of Education, and that he will continue to fully participate on the Board. Due to a vacation that was planned months ago, Mr. Rivera will be unable to attend tonight’s meeting. While the Monroe Woodbury Board of Education is prepared to take whatever appropriate steps are necessary to resolve Mr. Rivera’s status, it will not do so prematurely and will only do so when there is just cause.