At the Scarsdale School District Board of Education meeting July 11, board members voted unanimously to reappoint Scott Silberfein as president of the board. The board further allowed Silberfein to resign after six months of service to grant the presidency position to Pamela Fuehrer, the newly reappointed vice president of the board. After resigning, Silberfein would stay a board member and a new vice president would likely be appointed, although a vice president is not necessarily required, according to Silberfein.
Both Silberfein and Fuehrer were interested in the school board’s presidential position, but rules barred the two from serving as co-presidents.
“I think Scott and I worked really well as a team this year and shared a lot of the responsibilities,” said Fuehrer, who has been on the board since 2015. “Scott is an outstanding facilitator and he ensured that input from each individual board member [was heard] and community residents … were all heard and considered by the board in our discussions.”
As the appointed temporary chairman of the board, Superintendent Thomas Hagerman began the nomination proceedings by first administering the oath of office to Karen Ceske, Ron Schulhof and Carl Finger who were elected to the board in May. Hagerman then opened the discussion of the officer positions. Hagerman later administered the oath to both Silberfein and Fuehrer.
Prior to the board meeting, Silberfein told the Inqurier, “No matter how the board chooses its officers [Thursday] night, I think that we will be in good hands.” Silberfein, entering his sixth and final year on the board, was not available for further comment at press time.
During the nomination discussion, newly elected member Ron Schulhof said the school board should enter discussions soon regarding a succession plan. Silberfein agreed that such a discussion would take place during the board retreat on Monday, July 15.
“I think experience is important to board leadership,” said Fuehrer. “I think the board is in a great place.”
Not everyone agrees, however.
In a statement emailed to the board a few weeks ago, the Scarsdale League of Women Voters expressed concern over a possible conflict of interest in renewing Silberfein’s role as board president because Silberfein’s wife Joey was elected president of the Scarsdale PT Council in May. The PT Council is the umbrella organization for the school district PTAs.
“The League Board would like to draw attention to the potential conflict of interest regarding board of education leadership and incoming PT Council leadership,” the league wrote.
“As the League studies and comments on conflict of interest issues in various aspects of local government, including the CNC and SBNC elections systems, as well as the process of the Village Board, the League Board encourages the Board of Education to publicly disclose any potential, real or perceived conflict, including this one.
“The League Board further encourages the Board of Education to self-regulate appropriately and adhere to the practice of discretionary recusal in the face of potential, real, or perceived conflicts of interest that stem from the activities of spouses and immediate family members who engage in local advocacy and have volunteer leadership roles in local organizations, boards, and councils. The League Board hopes that there is transparency and an awareness of this potential conflict, on the part of the Board of Education, as it goes through its process in the 2019-20 year.”