Skip to main content

Decision No. 18,302

Application of E.S. for the removal of Linda Aniello as member of the Board of Education of the Lindenhurst Union Free School District.

Decision No. 18,302

(July 17, 2023)

Guercio & Guercio, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Matthew J. Mehnert, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks the removal of Linda Aniello (“trustee Aniello”) as a member of the Board of Education of the Lindenhurst Union Free School District (“board”).[1]  The application must be denied.

Petitioner’s child attends respondent’s middle school.  During the public comment portion of a board meeting on June 15, 2022,[2] petitioner and her child spoke about several incidents of bullying and harassment that took place over the course of three months that had been perpetrated by other middle school students.  Petitioner also stated that if the board “had put as much effort into our children and schools as they did their election maybe things would be different.”  After they spoke, a second parent spoke about bullying and harassment of her child at the middle school.  A third person then commended the then-superintendent, who was retiring.

Trustee Aniello then responded to petitioner’s comments.  Trustee Aniello acknowledged that the claims of bullying and harassment were concerning; denied that the allegations had anything to do with the election; and proposed the creation of a committee to hear and address such concerns as it was clear to her and the board that things “were getting out of hand.”  Trustee Aniello also clarified that district administrators, and not the board, receive and respond to complaints arising under the Dignity for All Students Act (“Dignity Act”). 

Petitioner then responded in an “emotional []” manner.  Trustee Aniello periodically interjected, at one point banging her hand on the table in front of her.  Petitioner alleges that trustee Aniello also rolled her eyes at petitioner, which trustee Aniello denies.  This application ensued.

Petitioner argues that trustee Aniello’s comments and conduct warrant her removal as a trustee.  Trustee Aniello contends that the application must be dismissed as untimely.[3]  On the merits, trustee Aniello argues that the petitioner is upset about the outcome of her Dignity Act complaints and is “transposing” her frustration onto the board. Trustee Aniello also disputes petitioner’s characterization of their interaction.  She further argues that, even assuming petitioner’s allegations are true, they do not warrant her removal from office.

The Commissioner of Education may remove a school officer or member of a board of education from office when it is proven to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the officer or board member has engaged in a willful violation or neglect of duty under the Education Law or has willfully disobeyed a decision, order, rule, or regulation of the Board of Regents or the Commissioner (Education Law § 306 [1]; see Application of Kolbmann, 48 Ed Dept Rep 370, Decision No. 15,888; Application of Schenk, 47 id. 375, Decision No. 15,729).

In an appeal or removal application to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and establishing the facts upon which he or she seeks relief (8 NYCRR 275.10; Appeal of P.C. and K.C., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,337; Appeal of Aversa, 48 id. 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884).

Here, the actions about which petitioner complains do not rise to the level of a willful violation or neglect of duty under the Education Law; therefore, Trustee Aniello’s conduct does not warrant her removal from office.  Even assuming that Trustee Aniello rolled her eyes or banged the table in frustration at petitioner, which she denies, such incivility would not rise to the level of a neglect of duty or violation of law under Education Law § 306 (see Application of Wontrobski-Ricciardi, 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,237; Application of Lyons-Birsner and Birsner, 57 id., Decision No. 17,160; Application of the Bd. of Educ. of the Lawrence Union Free Sch. Dist., 39 id. 523, Decision No. 14,299).  Therefore, the application must be denied.

However, I am compelled to comment on the circumstances that led to this interaction.  Both petitioner and the second parent described severe harassment of their children by a common group of harassers.[4]  The parents expressed pain and frustration at the perceived inaction of the school district and the police department.  The petitioner stated that she filed several Dignity Act complaints documenting multiple profanity-laden messages sent to her daughter.  The second parent stated that her son refuses to go for a walk, ride his bike, or sit outside the house out of fear of encountering his harassers.  The second parent further stated that her “daughter ... feels panicked every time she sees a group of teens near our home on bikes, fearful they will yell vulgarities at her brother again.”

The record does not reveal the extent to which the school district investigated the Dignity Act complaints filed by petitioner or the second parent; the school district asserts that all of petitioner’s complaints “were fully investigated” and resulted in “appropriate action [] taken by the district.”[5]  Clearly, however, the parents remain dissatisfied with the outcome.

Given the severity of the allegations described by the parents, I will refer this matter to the State Education Department’s Office of Student Support Services for further outreach and assistance.




[1] While petitioner names the board as a separate respondent, she seeks no relief against the board.  As such, Ms. Aniello shall be identified as the sole respondent herein.


[2] A video recording of this meeting, uploaded by the board, is currently available at: (last accessed Jul. 6, 2023).  The relevant portion of the meeting begins at approximately 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 40 seconds.


[3] Based upon petitioner’s explanation in the petition, I have excused her delay in bringing the instant application (see 8 NYCRR 275.16).


[4] While neither parent identified the harassers, the second parent indicated that “a lot of the same” students who harassed petitioner’s child harassed her child. 


[5] The second parent acknowledged that the district had investigated her claims of bullying and harassment with “mixed results and outcomes.”