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Decision No. 18,362

Application of EUGENIA SAILER for the removal of Linda Aniello as trustee of the Board of Education of the Lindenhurst Union Free School District.

Decision No. 18,362

(December 12, 2023)

          The Law Office of Joady Benjamin Feiner, attorneys for respondent, Joady Benjamin Feiner, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks the removal of board member Linda Aniello (“trustee Aniello”) from the Board of Education of the Lindenhurst Union Free School District (“respondent”).  The application for removal must be denied. 

On March 27, 2023 a lockdown was initiated at the district’s middle school due to an altercation between two students involving a weapon.  While the parties dispute whether Trustee Aniello entered or exited the school during the lockdown, they agree that she entered the school at some point on March 27, 2023.[1] 

During a board of education meeting on April 12, 2023, petitioner and another community member questioned the propriety of trustee Aniello’s presence in the middle school on March 27, 2023.  Petitioner asserts that, during this meeting, trustee Aniello referred to a community member using an expletive.  This appeal ensued. 

Petitioner contends that trustee Aniello’s presence in the middle school during a lockdown endangered the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.  She argues that her entry into the school, in conjunction with her use of an expletive, supports her removal from office.[2]

Trustee Aniello argues that the application is untimely.  On the merits, she denies making the expletive attributed to her or engaging in any conduct that would warrant her removal from office.

The majority of petitioner’s claims must be denied as untimely.  An appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the decision or act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR 275.16; Appeal of Saxena, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,239; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 id. 457, Decision No. 15,914).  The 30-day limitation period also applies to a removal application made pursuant to Education Law § 306 (8 NYCRR 277.1; Application of P.P., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,321; Application of Kelty, 48 id. 476, Decision No. 15,921).  Petitioner asserts that she personally observed trustee Aniello at the middle school on March 27, 2023.  Therefore, she had until April 26, 2023 to commence an appeal or removal application concerning this issue.  Petitioner commenced the instant application on May 11, 2023 and provides no explanation for the delay.  As such, the application is denied as untimely with respect to any claim concerning trustee Aniello’s presence at the middle school on March 27, 2023.[3]

Turning to the merits, 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 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).

Petitioner has failed to prove that trustee Aniello referred to a community member as an expletive during the April 12, 2023 board meeting.  While petitioner’s version of events is corroborated by an email from a community member, a recording of this meeting[4] does not reveal any such comment.  Petitioner admits that the comment “cannot [be] hear[d] on the posted video” but did not submit a reply or any other evidence to corroborate her claim.

Weighing the parties’ submissions on this issue, I find the video recording to be more probative than the community member’s unsworn assertions.  Therefore, petitioner has failed to meet her burden of proof and the application must be denied (compare Appeal of Rego, 61 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,088).




[1] Petitioner asserts that she personally observed the board member exiting the school while the lockdown was ongoing.


[2] Petitioner also identifies misconduct committed by trustee Aniello several months prior to March 2023.  For the reasons described below, these allegations are also untimely and cannot be considered.


[3]  I note that, absent a designation for a particular purpose, board members are not authorized to make official visits to schools within their district (Appeal of Silano, 33 Ed Dept Rep 20, Decision No. 12,961, Matter of Silano v Sobol; Supreme Court, Albany County, Spe­cial Term (Hughes, J.); Judgment dismissed petition to review; January 10, 1994).


[4] Respondent provided a link to a video recording of this meeting in its answer.