A retired teacher should not serve on the Orchard Park Central School Board, one of the board candidates said during a candidate’s forum Tuesday night.
Board President Natalie Schaffer said she objected to the candidacy of Anthony Agnello, a retired teacher and coach who worked for the district for 36 years. She said it would be a conflict of interest for him to serve on the board because his wife is a teacher. Agnello called the statement deceitful, and said Schaffer has an ulterior motive.
New York State allows spouses of school district employees to serve on a school board.
Schaffer, a lawyer who joined the School Board in 2007, said the primary role of a board members “is to be part of the group that collectively manages the district’s affairs by establishing policy that clearly and effectively promotes the district’s priorities.”
She said one of the most important items coming up is the renegotiation of union contracts this year.
“Mr. Agnello is a recently retired Orchard Park teacher, married to a currently employed Orchard Park teacher and I believe his participation in the negotiation process is, plain and simple, a conflict of interest that may result in the board becoming unable to effectively and with integrity manage the district’s affairs,” she said.
Agnello said the integrity he brought to his profession would make statements calling his dedication to the district “non-starters.”
“She knows as a board member I have no ability to affect my wife’s salary at all,” Agnello told The Buffalo News. “She is practicing deception.”
Agnello said the board sets the financial parameters, and he would vote on a contract package the administration negotiated and brings to the board.
Schaffer said that while the state allows spouses to serve, she thinks it is an “enormous” conflict, and if Agnello were to recuse himself, he would not be involved in a “large part” of what the board will be doing.
“The State of New York has determined I am a viable candidate. I’m a reasonable candidate. There is nobody sitting on this board that has a longer history of dedicated service to this district than I have,” Agnello said.