School Board Discusses Revised Bylaws, Prepares for New Year

Board members discuss the three revised bylaws. Photo by Leila Sassouni.

The Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) Board of Education held its annual meeting on July 1 to discuss the board’s revised bylaws, its reorganization and organizational matters. Within both the board’s reorganization and its organizational matters, trustees thanked long-standing board Secretary Kathleen Koslow for all of her help and addressed a new scholarship for district special-education students. 

The board’s modified bylaws address three critical topics: the creation of an alternate vice president to ensure the presence of two officers at every board meeting, move the “open time” discussion to the end of the agenda to ensure there is no interference with presentations during the introduction of the meeting and consolidate the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Financial/Business Advisory Committee to make one Board of Education Advisory Committee. This new committee will be used by residents, students, staff, administration and the board to discuss various important community concerns, financial operations and projects. 

A board election was held, and several trustees were sworn in to their positions on the board. Donna Peirez was sworn in as a reelected board member. Barbara Berkowitz was both reelected and sworn in as the board’s president. She is the 14th board president and has served the GNPS for 28 years. Donald Ashkenase was both reelected and sworn in as the board’s vice president. 

“Donald Ashkenase is now the longest-serving board trustee in the history of the Great Neck Public Schools,” Berkowitz exclaimed. 

Board member Rebecca Sassouni was both elected and sworn in to the new alternate board vice president position. 

“This is also to make sure that in the event that either the president or the vice president isn’t here at a meeting, this next person is going to be present at that meeting, to sit alongside the current president or vice president,” Berkowitz said. 

Dr. Teresa Prendergast was sworn in as superintendent of schools. Jacqueline Lizza was both appointed and sworn in as the district clerk. Carol Blach was also appointed and sworn in as the district treasurer. 

While many of the trustee members were sworn in to their positions for the 2019–20 school year, board members bode farewell to Secretary Koslow. Berkowitz graciously thanked her for her tireless help and support in the school district, as she provided assistance and intelligence to all assets of the board. 

The agenda concluded with Berkowitz acknowledging a new scholarship offer for special-education students in the school district, in memory of a faculty member who was recently killed. To remember Evan Grabelsky, a special-education teaching aide in Great Neck North High School, the board approved a scholarship that will assist one to three district children every year with job readiness and job placement, post-secondary education or training programs and/or activities or programs within the community. 

Reflecting on this past school year, Prendergast said, “I’m just very proud of all that we have accomplished as a school district. Our graduation ceremonies were just so exciting, and as a school superintendent I could not be more proud of our students and their accomplishments. I wish them much success in the years ahead and I look forward to greeting all of our students back to school in September.”

Leila Sassouni is a Great Neck North High School 2018 grad who is studying psychology at Geneseo and is passionate about writing.


  1. Why need a scholarship for special education students? If they drop out of high school, they can participate in ACCES-VR programs and receive all the job readiness and job placement, post-secondary education or training programs. I see all these disabled kids opting out of state tests in elementary and middle schools. Clearly these kids don’t have the skills to be successful for high school. They are a waste of tax dollars! Might as well drop out and start their vocational training earlier. In fact there is a 14-week culinary program for disabled people offered at Nassau BOCES paid by the state education department. There is also a 20-week culinary program offered at Viscardi center for disabled people paid by the state education department. There are so many options! Clearly disabled people are funded quite well by the state that they don’t need a scholarship!

  2. Moving “open time” discussion to the end of the agenda – sounds like the board wants to squelch public comment. Board members must be tired of looking bad by not responding to most of the open time remarks. They don’t respond to criticism: they bury it, as proved by this action.

  3. Why are public comments put at the end of the meeting? Because this board doesn’t wish to entertain them, or draw attention to the fact that they are unresponsive to any criticism or complaints.

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