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SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- The South Glens Falls Board of Education apologized to residents on Monday for how it handled a superintendent search that ended with the candidate turning down the job.

The board will continue the search after Michael Piccirillo declined the position on Tuesday, a day after the board appointed him to the position.

"We apologize for not having a superintendent," said board member Fred Valastro.

People who attended Monday's monthly board meeting blasted the board for how it handled the search.

The board voted 6-2 to hire Piccirillo. The two board members who voted no, Larry Chapman and Timothy Dalaba, said last week they supported Piccirillo, but they had issues with the contract.

One resident, Francis Cocozza, a father of four, said the school board should have resolved issues with the contract prior to the July 12 vote to appoint Piccirillo.

If board members were going to vote no, the board should have gone into executive session, he said.

"The most important vote in this district in 18 years was blown," said Cocozza, who was one of several people who criticized the board.

He also took a shot at Chapman and Dalaba for not attending Monday's meeting.

"It's very telling that the gentlemen are not here tonight," Cocozza said.

Jeff Riggi, school board president, said everybody on the board has to agree on the candidate. He said he had an inkling following the July 12 meeting that Piccirillo was going to turn down the position. He said he, Piccirillo and his family went out to dinner following the meeting, but it was the next day that he learned of Piccirillo's bombshell decision.

"I have been miserable since last Tuesday," Riggi told reporters after Monday's meeting.

Riggi said be believes the comments of Chapman and Dalaba that appeared in The Post-Star the day after the July 12 meeting swayed Piccirillo to reject the job offer. He said those comments involved specific details of Piccirillo's contract.

The board went into executive session on Monday to discuss the next step for finding a superintendent, but it came after newly-elected board member Thomas Kurtz argued the public deserved an explanation.

"I think we owe it to the public to tell them what is going to happen," Kurtz said.

The board had originally planned to enter into executive session before inviting residents to speak.

Riggi said the discussion was going to involve potential candidates for the job.

James Dexter, the BOCES district superintendent who was present on Monday, said the search process can be discussed in the open, but discussing candidates must be done behind closed doors.

The board's options include going back to the more than 30 candidates who applied for the position or beginning a new search and keeping an interim superintendent.

"One of the options is to go back to the pool," Riggi said. "Of the 30-somewhat that applied, there are some dynamic candidates."

Piccirillo was one of two candidates for the job. The other was Leslie Goldring Ford, who was the superintendent of the Onteora Central School District in Ulster County. Riggi said Ford was let go from her job last week.

The board began in October to seek a new superintendent after it let James McCarthy leave when his contract ended in June. McCarthy spent 19 years at the district but did not receive a contract extension.

Jean Tedesco, the assistant superintendent, has been the interim superintendent.

On Monday, the board was also criticized for the bad perception of the school district.

Audience members said the public does not trust the board.

"The perception in the area is that we are a laughingstock," Cocozza said.

Cocozza said the board's past relationship with the administration has turned away people from applying for the superintendent job.

Riggi said the relationship among board members was improving over the last two years.

"I think we were actually starting to gel over the last two years. It kind of blew up in four face," he said. "We need time to heal. We need time to work this out."

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