Conflict Of Interest For Rye School Board President Laura Slack

The Rye City School Board of Education has had tremendous press coverage because of their re-assignment of four elementary school teachers in the district.

Laura Slack, Rye School Board President/Patch File Photo
Laura Slack, Rye School Board President/Patch File Photo

The Rye City School District Board of Education held a Special Meeting, this morning (January 27, 2014) that began at 8:30 A.M. in the Rye City School District Central Administration Building, at 411 Theodore Fremd Avenue, Suite 100S, Rye New York 10580.

The Board went immediately into Executive Session for the review of the employment history of current and prospective employees, and negotiations pursuant to the Taylor Law, and to review current litigation and litigation strategies.

One item on the agenda is a personnel item.

Then the Board went into a public session.


Board member Ed Fox made a statement that Board President Laura Slack should recuse herself from any matters,which would be a conflict of interest since her husband, Richard Slack was newly appointed as a City Council Member by Rye Mayor Sack.

You can view the video of this special Board of Education meeting.

Committee for Election Equality January 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Notwithstanding the procession of the hoped for final resolution of these matters, the Committee for Election Equality sees the settlement with Gail Topol as a "sweetheart deal" negotiated by Kerry Ann Law (wife of Rye City Mayor Joseph A. Sack) with Board of Education President Laura Slack. As has been previously reported, Slack's husband, Richard Slack, was recently appointed to the Rye City Council by Mayor Sack. We feel that the mandate and campaign platform of the duly elected Rye United team, one of truth, transparency, and honesty is violated when you see the wife of a recently appointed City Councilman negotiating a settlement with the Mayor's wife. We support the statement of Mr. Fox, where he seeks to investigate the circumstances of the negotiation of the settlement, to ensure that there was no quid pro quo involved between President Slack (wife of recently appointed Councilman Richard Slack) and Mayor Sack (husband of Gail Topol's attorney Kerry Ann Law). IN THE ALTERNATIVE, the offer of the exact same terms should be made to the remaining teachers Dana Copolla and Carin Mehler for them to act upon as they so see fit. The Committee has knowledge that the terms of settlement are as follows: (i) no admission of lack of evidence by the RCSD; (ii) no admission of culpability by Topol; (iii) fine of $1,000 payable over two (2) years; and (iv) 28 day suspension (time served). In these regards the Committee for Election Equality, a duly formed Committee in the City of Rye, County of Westchester, State of New York with the mandate as the keeper of all things righteous in Rye City government demands that these same terms be made to Dana Coppola and Carin Mehler for them to act upon as they so see fit, notwithstanding their lack of representation by Mayor Sack's wife, Kerry Ann Law. Where, if not, removal of this matter to the Rye City Ethics Board to investigate and review Mayor Sack’s involvement and make a determination as they see fit and the recall of Laura Slack as a member of the Board of Education.
tedc January 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM
I guess somehow improper or undue influence is being alleged in the ‘Mr. Sack nomination’ of Mr. Slack for Rye City Council? Meanwhile Mrs. Sack (an attorney representing a ‘rubber room’ teacher here) has some kind of improper negotiation with Mrs. Slack, who heads the school board? Kinda catchy, right? One big problem – Mr. Sack was one vote of, umm, let me use my fingers to count, umm, FIVE elected officials voting Mr. Slack into his seat? Are all FIVE Rye City elected officials somehow implicated in improper ‘quid-pro-quo’ behavior here? Really? Now don’t get me started on Councilwoman Killian and Councilwoman Brett and what they did when they personally heard The Dapolite Tapes (hint: improperly ignored exculpatory evidence) - but really – does this then mean that the other 2 new elected council people are to be implicated in a voting racket as of their first council meeting? Folks – the losers of the last election are privately spitting-mad they lost their influence peddling positions. Would it be unheard of (Steve) that they would attempt to ding up the new admin before it got out of the showroom? I think that’s entirely possible. Meanwhile, in Rye City Crime, where are the NAMES of the evidence tampering / evidence destroying RCSD criminals in this front page case? http://rye.patch.com/groups/announcements/p/falsely-accused-in-rye--rcsd-has-some-splainin-to-do
Anne McCarthy January 27, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Eh? There is an appearance of impropriety here. No 2 ways about it. Mrs. Slack didn't inform the Board that her husband was being considered as a nominee for City Council by the husband of the lawyer with whom she's negotiating. Rye's a small city...not that small. Find another attorney or find another candidate for council.
Boukje van den Bosch January 27, 2014 at 01:42 PM
Article in the Journal News: http://www.lohud.com/article/20140127/NEWS/301270034/Rye-teacher-reinstated-test-coaching-case-another-has-resigned-2-cases-still-pending?gcheck=1
Eric Kamander January 27, 2014 at 01:47 PM
Will offering the remaining two reassigned teachers the same settlement agreement be enough to avoid the appearance of impropriety?
dita von struedel van trappyodel January 27, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Well, I can really rest easy at night knowing that the Committee for Election Equality has the mandate keeper of all things righteous in Rye City Government. My humble admiration, thanks and support you undertaking this truly noble project.
Virginia Lange January 27, 2014 at 02:41 PM
To EK's point, no, equal impropriety is not ok.
dita von struedel van trappyodel January 27, 2014 at 04:02 PM
As the keeper of all things righteous in Rye City Government I am sure that they will not offer equal impropriety to anyone. They are on the job, we can all rest easy.
Ben January 27, 2014 at 05:45 PM
Laura Slack is dirty. Mayor Sack is dirty. It all will come out. It always does. I just hope Ms. Mehler and Ms. Coppola's attorney is sharpening his teeth. Can't imagine how many zeroes their settlement will have. Nice work Slack/Sack.
dita von struedel van trappyodel January 27, 2014 at 06:43 PM
Ben - you worry much too much. The Committee for Election Equality is on the job! They will take care of things in the proper manner.
Debbi Porterfield January 27, 2014 at 06:57 PM
Rye is fortunate to have civic-minded citizens like Rich and Laura who volunteer their time to help improve our schools and city. More important, they both have demonstrated the kind of integrity our community needs right now. While it's perfectly fine to disagree on issues, there's no need to take cheap shots at people who tirelessly work to improve life in Rye.
mjb fresh January 28, 2014 at 09:06 AM
so glad we live on the "right" side of this county...
dita von struedel van trappyodel January 28, 2014 at 10:02 AM
We have the Committee for Election Equality ( nickname : SYBIL) on our side, we can do no wrong.
Eric Kamander January 28, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Debbi Porterfield, Rye is fortunate to have civic-minded citizens who volunteer their time to help improve our schools and city. Whether like Rich and Laura have demonstrated the kind of integrity our community needs right now is certainly in question right now for good reason.
Charmian Neary January 29, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Eric, it is "in question" by you and a handful of others. You don't speak for the "public" any more than I do. By the very act of our commenting in social media we are more involved than the average Rye citizen. Many people in Rye go to work, get their kids to school ,and live their lives with quiet everyday integrity, and expect our school board and council to be trustworthy. You're attempting to sow the seeds of doubt in a new administration only three weeks into the new year. Fortunately, I don't see your insinuations taking root, as letters from neighbors like Debbi Porterfield suggest otherwise. We're all just as much a part of "the public" as you and your cadre. So to suggest the public thinks this or that is misleading and inaccurate.
Anne McCarthy January 29, 2014 at 05:26 PM
I won't argue with you, Charmian, about none of us representing all of us. That's true. But, I do question whether you & I live in the same City. I don't expect the school board or council to be trustworthy, that's just based on experience. Let me just list a few examples: Jamie Saracino, Brian Lavelle, these 4 teachers, Osborn Principal Angela Garcia, Bob Shubert, Andrew Dapolite/municipal porn, a $2MM robbery at the RGC fully blessed by our still standing City Manager, and last but not least: the end of Central Ave which now has a parking lot where there was green space and what looks like it will be a drive-thru Dunkin Donuts blessed by "environmentalist" Carolyn Cunningham despite residents (not just me) consistent objections about the lack parking and dangerous traffic. Oh, and really lastly this time, the Lowenstein Bridge boarded up because former Councilman Filippi's neighbor doesn't want kids cutting through his yard to use it. I expect nothing but shrewd angles and self-service from the Council and the Board of Ed. I continue to be hopeful that Mayor Sack will improve transparency and govern with a longer-term focus. This ain't Mayberry.
Eric Kamander January 29, 2014 at 05:35 PM
Charmian Neary, The board's integrity is in question, and that is a fact. I don't have to speak for the public any other member of the public. The fact that anyone is questioning their integrity is what makes this a fact. And I'm not attempting to sow any seeds. I'm responding to what I've witnessed, as someone who is - as you've stated - "more involved than the average Rye citizen" to a situation that started almost a year ago. No matter how much "you and a handful of others" suggest me and my cadre are being misleading and inaccurate, these are indeed facts.
mjb fresh January 29, 2014 at 06:11 PM
did I mention how happy I was to have moved to the West side of our great county back in 1989??
Charmian Neary January 29, 2014 at 07:36 PM
Anne, I think you know I'm aware of all these issues. I said the majority of Rye has an expectation that our institutions will be trustworthy. My point was that sowing distrust in the new council only weeks into the new year isn't fair and it isn't right, especially in light of our past 4 years. This is a school board issue, and dragging Richard Slack and Joe Sack into it to muddy the waters is fighting dirty. As for Joe's wife, Kerry, she is working on behalf of a teacher to return her to teaching. That's a good thing, right? I think if you ask around you'll find I am one of the first to speak up when I think our government is acting in the interest of a few rather than the greater public. I frequently challenge our council and our school board to do better. I get that this isn't Mayberry. I don't think it's fair to cast aspersions on our new council to score points on another front. I think Joe Sack deserves a chance.
Anne McCarthy January 29, 2014 at 07:45 PM
I couldn't agree more. Mrs. Slack has done a tremendous disservice to Mayor Sack and Ms. Law. Don't blame citizens who are appalled by her lack of disclosure. This issue starts and ends with Mrs. Slack.
Charmian Neary January 29, 2014 at 07:56 PM
As for your remarks about "facts" Eric, suppose I question your integrity. I am a member of the public, ergo "the public" questions Eric Kamander's integrity. That then becomes a "fact"? Got it. By the same token, Andrew Cuomo's integrity is called into question every day. Does that mean his "integrity is in question"? Well, by your measure yes, except for the fact that a solid 2/3rds of the state view the governor favorably. That is a very high favorable rating for a Governor in his 4th year, but it is the people who are unhappy who tend to dominate the opinion sections and the blogs, leading one to believe otherwise. So "facts" aren't the entire picture are they? I believe the same thing is in play here. The people who are unhappy with the school board have been very vocal. Those who aren't unhappy tend to focus on other things, like Playland for example. I know I hadn't been commenting about this issue until this recent conspiracy theory evolved. I also know when I try to remove my cats from the table they always dug in and attempted to drag the tablecloth down with them. I see that happening here. Angry people dragging Joe Sack into this without thinking of the consequences. That's wrong.
Charmian Neary January 29, 2014 at 08:01 PM
PS Anne -- a drive through Dunkin Donuts? For real?
Anne McCarthy January 29, 2014 at 09:06 PM
Just saying it looks like a drive-thru version of the Harrison Dunkin Donuts (with 2 apts above it). If it looks like a duck...yada, yada, yada.
Eric Kamander January 29, 2014 at 09:37 PM
Charmian Neary, What I said was "whether Rich and Laura have demonstrated the kind of integrity our community needs right now is certainly in question," and this is based on the appearance of impropriety as was clearly outlined in Ed Fox's statement, not to mention Mr. Sack's statement that Ed Fox's allegations (of which I have never seen) are untrue. You're the one who brought this idea of "the public" into it, not me, but technically yes, in your hypothetical if you question my integrity, then ipso facto my integrity is in question. I'm not questioning Mr. Sack's popularity (that point was driven home http://t.co/OggXKvFQVU ). What would be relevant is what I did to make you question my integrity? Obviously the people with something to complain about are going to be the ones who complain, but I'm not trying to make opinions or concerns appear more popular than they are. I'm not part of any "cadre." Each complaint and concern should stand on it's own merits, and that will drive it's acceptance or dismissal. I'm not perpetuating any conspiracy theory. I don't know if any quid pro quo arrangement was made. But there is definitely the appearance of impropriety from people who should know better.
Eric Kamander January 29, 2014 at 09:49 PM
Virginia Lange, I've been thinking about this and I think everyone would agree that equal impropriety is not ok. But all we know is that, to date, not all parties are being dealt with equally, and there's the potential for a quid pro quo arrangement to have been made. We don't know if it actually was. The only thing we actually know that was done wrong is that the parties involved did not communicate their potential conflicts of interest and proceed accordingly. So given that, if all the teachers were offered the same settlement, wouldn't that be satisfactory evidence that there was no quid pro quo arrangement, or would you then just chalk it up to damage control?
dita von struedel van trappyodel January 29, 2014 at 10:47 PM
Wow, only four weeks into this new administration and it has already well surpassed the French team in terms of sleaze and double dealing. I'm just back from vacation and truly shocked at all of this
Charmian Neary January 30, 2014 at 01:26 AM
Eric Kamander January 27, 2014 at 05:05 PM '"Because it is a fact the the public are thinking and wondering this, and were doing so even before this settlement was reached. " Derp.
Charmian Neary January 30, 2014 at 01:33 AM
OK Anne, I'll see your Dunkin Donuts visual and raise you a dragging cats off the table for the win.
Eric Kamander January 30, 2014 at 06:02 PM
Charmian Neary, Are we raising the bar here?
Charmian Neary January 30, 2014 at 06:35 PM
EK Oh yes. Dunkin Donuts Drive Thru was a powerful visual. I had to think fast. But I recovered.


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