New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education veteran Frank Miranda will face a challenge to his bid for re-election this May by Jennifer DeRocchis, an active PTA mother who frequently attends board meetings.
DeRocchis, a former vice president of the Manor Oaks Parent-Teacher Association, submitted petitions to challenge Miranda, who has served seven years on the board over two stints.
Two of Miranda’s colleagues on the board — David Del Santo and James Reddan — are also up for re-election but will appear on the ballot unopposed, as will the two incumbents from the Herricks board whose terms expire next month.
Herricks trustees Brian Hassan and Nancy Feinstein, who both won open seats in 2012, are running unopposed.
Hassan, a longtime engineer with the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid, played an integral role in the district’s transition to gas heating six years ago. He also served as co-vice president of the Herricks Athletics Boosters.
Feinstein is a former co-president of the Denton School Parent Teacher Association, Herricks Council of PTAs and Herricks Middle School PTA.
New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Superintendent Robert Katulak said the district would hold a public candidate forum on May 4 at New Hyde Park Road School.
Miranda, a 23-year resident of the Village of New Hyde Park, said his job as an information technology specialist at Nassau BOCES keeps him informed of what other districts are doing and informs his own work on the board.
“Working at BOCES gives me an advantage,” he said. “Being a tech for Nassau BOCES for the last 17 years before we had remote access to all the schools. I had to visit almost every school in Nassau County for tech support. I have seen many different situations and met many people from superintendents to cleaners and all in between.”
DeRocchis, a graduate of Hillside Grade School and New Hyde Park Memorial High School, said she her son attends New Hyde Park Memorial and her daughter is at Manor Oaks.
“If I were to pick a time to serve on the board, I think it would be a good time to be while my daughter is in grammar school,” she said. “I feel like now, especially with everything that’s going on with Common Core, it’s important to have parents on the board that have children in the school district.”
Miranda’s children have graduated from New Hyde Park-Garden City Park, which only goes up to seventh grade. New Hyde Park Memorial High School includes grades seven through 12 and is part of the Sewanhaka Central High School District.
DeRocchis said her decision to challenge Miranda stemmed from her desire to serve on the board and was not personal.
“I respect all of the members of the current school board. I realize they have a really big responsibility, and I’m sure they always have the children’s best interest at heart,” she said. “I had to pick somebody. [Miranda] seems like a very nice person.”
She added, “I know he takes his position very seriously.”
DeRocchis said that, if elected, her priorities would be small class sizes and the health and safety of the students. Like many parents, she also has concerns about the Common Core testing, though she recognizes that is controlled by the state.
“I just feel this is a very difficult time for parents, students and teachers,” she said.
Miranda said his experience — he served on the board from 2004 to 2007 and rejoined it in 2012 after winning an uncontested election — would be an advantage for him on the board.
“I really feel we have a good board, a diverse board…I know the people on the board, and I see them often. I know how they think, they know how I think, and we all know our strengths,” he said. “I would have the upper hand over someone that is just coming in.”
He is also a member of the New Hyde Park Memorial High School Dad’s Club.
Del Santo, who is seeking a fourth three-year term, is one of two board members from New Hyde Park-Garden City Park to sit on the Sewanhaka Board of Education.
The Sewanhaka board comprises two representatives from each of its four feeder elementary school districts. Del Santo, an ex-policeman and auditor for the Department of Homeland Security, serves as vice president on both boards.
The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park board appointed Reddan to his seat in 2014 following the resignation of then-Vice President Patricia Rudd, who relocated to Michigan.
Reddan, a civil engineer who grew up in Garden City Park, had initially lost an election to Trustee Jennifer Kerrane in 2013.
However, he remained active with the district and joined the audit committee.