Monday night massacre

Todd Morgan helped his Pop Warner assistant coach Terry Marcus get elected to the school board and Jessie Thomas followed suit and engineered the election of her PTA colleague Helen Pinkus.

Their successful elections were on the same ballot in May near the end of Debbie’s third year as principal. The two new board members were sworn in as required by education law on July 1 at the district’s re-organizational meeting. In a surprise vote Jessie Thomas was elected school board president on a 4-3 vote and Todd Morgan vice president by the same 4-3 vote.

Immediately after these votes and the swearing in of the two new board members, Helen Pinkus made a motion seconded by Todd Morgan asking ask the public to leave the room so the board could have a brief executive session.

The superintendent had a clear idea what was happening and objected but Jessie had done her homework and by a 4-3 vote with “yes” votes from board members Thomas, Morgan, Marcus and Pinkus the public was ushered out of the room and the executive session began.

The beginning of the end

Jessie started by saying Superintendent Galvin’s contract would end on October 25th and she wanted to discuss whether it should be extended. She didn’t think it should.

Superintendent Galvin reacted angrily and said he had not been informed of any concerns about his performance and the school board’s intentions not to extend his contract. Jessie said he failed to provide the report regarding honors math she had formally requested.

Todd Morgan jumped in saying he had raised concerns about the football coaching issue on numerous occasions with no action by the superintendent. Jessie requested a motion for the school board to direct the school district attorney to draft a formal letter to Superintendent Galvin thanking him for his years of service and informing him that his contract would not be extended.

The attorney, who was present at the executive session and who had obviously talked with Jessie in advance without telling Superintendent Galvin, said he would proceed as directed if the school board voted in the affirmative on a motion not to renew Galvin’s contract. The motion was made by Todd Morgan, seconded by Terry Marcus and passed on a 4-3 vote.

Another one bites the dust

Jessie then expressed concerns about Principal Fortunato’s performance and her changes in the honors math program. Helen Pinkus agreed with Jessie and a motion was proposed for the attorney to work out the legal details of denying tenure to Debbie Fortunato, giving her time to resign from the district before the school board formally voted to deny her tenure.

Superintendent Galvin was obviously shaken by the events that had transpired. “Look, I understand you are angry with me but Debbie Fortunato has done nothing but make Rosemont a better high school,” he said. “Test scores have improved. The dropout rate is down. It’s a much better school than it was when she arrived. Her evaluations are extremely positive and won’t support the action the school board in proposing.”

Three board members argued vehemently in Debbie’s favor and the “brief executive session” ended up being two hours long. In the end. Todd Morgan called the question on a 4-3 vote and the motion to deny Debbie Fortunato tenure passed by the same 4-3 vote.

The attorney said even though Debbie’s evaluations were positive and the superintendent was recommending her for tenure the final decision belonged with the school board.

Then Todd Morgan made a motion that the long standing football coach, Kevin Talbot, be informed that he would not be approved as varsity football coach for the upcoming fall season and directed the superintendent to recommend someone else for the position.  The three member minority on the school board knew they were outgunned and made no objection, and the vote passed 4-3.

The following morning Tom Galvin met with Debbie Fortunato and gave her the bad news. She would not receive tenure as Rosemont High School principal. The new board majority was already running the show and Tom could not control where they were headed.

Jessie Thomas called the school board clerk and told her to advertise for a new superintendent and a new a new high school principal.

Rumors immediately flew around the district about the “Monday night massacre” at the school board meeting. Letters drafted by the school attorney to Superintendent Galvin and Principal Fortunato were hand delivered to both administrators later that day.

The letters requested their resignations prior to a special meeting of the school board set for the following Monday. The letters made it clear if the school board did not have a letter of resignation to act on they would act to end Superintendent Galvin’s contract and deny Principal Fortunato tenure with required public votes at the special meeting.

Facing the negative consequences of such a public decision by the school board, Debbie Fortunato and Tom Galvin both resigned. Tom took a much lower paying job with the state football committee until he reached minimum retirement age and Debbie enrolled in the University at Albany, SUNY doctoral education program.

An unholy alliance click here

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