Two independent candidates win seats on Three Village school board; incumbent Kerman...

Two independent candidates win seats on Three Village school board; incumbent Kerman keeps his

Board also addresses issues of racism in the district

By Mallie Kim

The Board of Education will welcome newcomers Karen Roughley and David McKinnon to the table in Three Village Central School District, alongside returning trustee Jeffrey Kerman. The school board announced and certified the results during a meeting on Tuesday night, May 16.

David McKinnon and Karen Roughley, above, along with incumbent Jeffrey Kerman, won seats on the board of education. Photo by Mallie Kim

Roughley and McKinnon are no strangers to the board room, as they often attend meetings to advocate for district issues they are passionate about. During a fraught two-week campaign, the two, who campaigned together, emphasized their status as independent candidates — that is, not endorsed or financially supported by any bargaining unit, something both candidates have said could be a conflict of interest.

“This was a good win for the community. We were community-backed,” said McKinnon, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University, adding that his win comes after several years of building confidence within the community. McKinnon ran unsuccessfully for the board twice before, and during the campaign conveyed a strong interest in improving curriculum and instituting forward-looking financial planning. “I hope this paves the way for other independent candidates to run for the board.”

McKinnon received 2,101 votes, coming in second behind Roughley, who brought in 2,222 votes.

This was the second bid for Roughley, who has been a vocal advocate for the special education community over the years, and during the campaign she highlighted the budget and bullying as top issues she would want to address. She received the most votes, at 2,222.

“I’m very proud,” she said after the meeting. “I’m very honored to be representing all the community of Three Village.”

Rounding out the trio, Kerman, a dentist, received 1,777 votes and said he was very proud to have voter support again. “I have a lot of experience, and I can help the new [members],” said Kerman, referring to the fact that he has served 17 years on the board, including two years as board president. During the campaign, he expressed gratitude for all the district did to help his two children succeed. “This is pay back and pay forward,” he said. “I’m here to help the district and keep it good.”

The community also approved the 2023‒24 district budget with 2,332 yes votes over 1,559 no votes. The vast majority of registered voters in the district skipped the election, despite the fact that the district’s budget makes up a large portion of each resident’s tax bill. A total of 3,891 voters participated, out of 36,396 qualified voters in the district.

Assistant Superintendent Jeff Carlson congratulates incumbent Jeffrey Kerman on his win. Photo Mallie Kim

Superintendent addresses racism, district OKs book up for review

Also, during the May 16 meeting, Superintendent Kevin Scanlon presented a strongly worded message against incidents of racism in the district and said the administration has brought in consultants to help address it, including one member of the Little Rock Nine, the group of black students who desegregated their school in Arkansas in 1957.

Scanlon said he would soon share with district families more details about a specific incident under investigation, and he compared racism in schools to drugs and alcohol. “If anyone in a school district tells you that they don’t have an alcohol and drug problem, they’re lying,” he said. “Every district in this country has an alcohol and drug program, and we are no exception to that rule.”

The district has curriculum and counseling staff to specifically address alcohol and drugs, and Scanlon said the same needs to happen to quash racism and bigotry. He pointed to the work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees, but said the entire community also needs to act.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “We have to address this not only in our schools, but in our homes and throughout our community every single day. That’s the only way to stop it.”

The board also heard the results of a recent instructional materials review triggered by a parent complaint.

According to Assistant Superintendent Brian Biscari, the book “All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color,” by Katie Kissinger, is used in second grade health classes districtwide. A concerned parent emailed a complaint, Biscari said, calling the material in the book “damaging and racist.”

A committee made up of an administrator, a second-grade teacher, a library media specialist and a parent convened and reviewed the book’s subject, themes and appropriateness for the age level. No committee members had objections to the book. “The content of the book was related to the science of skin color, including melanin, ancestors and family and exposure to the sun,” Biscari read from the committee’s recommendation to keep the book in the curriculum. “The themes represented in this book are appropriate topics for students in the second-grade health classes.”