By Christine Sampson
Sag Harbor School Board member Tommy John Schiavoni, who was elected November 7 to the Southampton Town Council, said Monday he will step down from his seat on the school board in December.
“After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Sag Harbor Board of Education, with my last meeting [on] December 18,” Mr. Schiavoni, who will be sworn into his position with Southampton Town in early January, said in an email to The Sag Harbor Express.
Mr. Schiavoni, who ran as a Democrat, will be a newcomer to the Southampton Town Council. He currently works as a history, government and economics teacher in the Center Moriches School District, and is a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He is a past member of the North Haven Village Board of Trustees.
He was originally appointed to the Sag Harbor School Board in 2014 to fill a seat vacated by former board member Daniel Hartnett, who had resigned after moving out-of-district. Mr. Schiavoni was then elected to a full three-year term in May of 2015. At the time of his anticipated resignation in December, he will have served all but six months of that term.
“Only the supervisor of a town is prohibited by New York State law from serving on a school board, but for me, it’s because I’m eager to begin my work as a councilman,” he said. “There is going to be a learning curve.”
Mr. Schiavoni said he will also continue his teaching position in Center Moriches.
During the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Schiavoni served as school board vice president. He received a nomination this past July to again serve as vice president, but he politely declined.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Sag Harbor, particularly with the work we did on bond issue number one from 2013 and the field,” he said. “I think the school has been well-run, and I’m honored to have served with my fellow board members over the last three-and-a-half years.”
Sag Harbor School Board President Diana Kolhoff said in a message to The Express Monday she had only just learned that morning of Mr. Schiavoni’s intent to step down.
“I informed the board via email,” Ms. Kolhoff said.
According to Article 43, part 1, section 2113 of New York State Education Law, if a vacancy arises on a school board, it may choose to appoint a new member, and if that option is pursued it must be by a majority vote of the full board. A board may also choose to hold a special election within 90 days of the date the vacancy is established. If a special election takes place in Sag Harbor, the new trustee would serve the remaining few months of Mr. Schiavoni’s term. The board could also choose to leave the seat empty. However, if the board does not choose to appoint someone and a special election is not held, according to state education law, the superintendent of the supervisory district, which in this case is the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, “may appoint a competent person to fill the vacancy until the next annual election.” The state education commissioner could also step in and order a special election.
“We will have to discuss our options,” Ms. Kolhoff said. “No decisions have been made.”
She said the board would discuss steps forward publicly during its next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Pierson Middle-High School library.
Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the superintendent of schools had the authority to appoint someone to serve on the school board should a vacancy arise and a special election not be held. The article has been corrected.