South Orangetown Central School District

Board Candidates Information

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The South Orangetown Central School District is providing this page as a community service to inform voters and does not endorse any candidates for Board of Education elections. Information provided below was submitted by candidates who will appear on the May 21, 2024 ballot. All candidates were invited to submit responses to a set of five questions along with a headshot. Statements are the candidates’ own and have not been verified by the District.

Board of Education Responsibilities

The communities of the South Orangetown Central School District are served by a five-member Board of Education. Each Board member is elected by a public vote and serves a three-year term without pay. There are no term limits for Board members.

As a legal arm of the government of the State of New York, our Board of Education is responsible for:

  • Affirming a shared vision for the school district
  • Establishing district goals and setting priorities
  • Overseeing the general operation of the district (including educational programs, public relations, facilities and contracts)
  • Setting educational policy
  • Adopting and maintaining current policies in written format
  • Approving and adopting the annual budget
  • Hiring and evaluating the Superintendent
  • Approving the appointment of all personnel and related collective bargaining agreements/contracts
  • Deciding on the best utilization of resources
  • Setting high standards of governance
  • Meeting all requirements of New York State law

New Board of Education members are required to participate in mandatory training courses through the New York State School Boards Association and attend Board of Education meetings and workshops, which are typically held on Thursday evenings twice monthly. Additional meetings may be added to the schedule, as needed, to carry out time-sensitive Board duties. Board members also serve on committees which may meet during the day or evening.

Candidate Information

On May 21, 2024, an election will be held for one (1) Board of Education seat. The full, three-year term for each seat is July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2027. Following are the candidates in the order they will appear on the ballot based on a random selection process administered by the District Clerk on April 22.


BOE Candidate Marissa Squitieri

How many years have you lived in the South Orangetown Central School District?  I have lived within the South Orangetown Central School District my whole life. My parents moved to Orangeburg N.Y. in 1983 where I was born, as this district was known for its Blue Ribbon Schools.

What is your post-secondary educational and employment/professional background? As a product of the South Orangetown School Central School District K-12, I was afforded the opportunity in my senior year of high school to enroll at Rockland Community College where I took college courses while still completing the requirements for high school graduation.

I then went on to Pace University where I graduated in 2005, with a B.A.A in Marketing, with a minor in Management. For the past 19 years I have been working in Corporate Retail for major retailers which include Jones Apparel, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, and Kenneth Cole Productions. For the past 6 years I have been working for Bergdorf Goodman/Neiman Marcus Group, I am currently a Director of Planning managing 5 multi-million-dollar businesses and a team of 12. As a Director of Planning, I build/create all the merchants buy plans for market, run monthly OTB’s and Negotiate Agreements with vendors, while constantly reacting to the trends of the business. I am incredibly focused and driven, which is important when working in such a fast past, high pressure environment. Having the ability to multitask, stay focused and be proactive is key.

Education is extremely important to me which is why in 2018 I partnered with the Human Resource Department to create 20 continuing education classes for our merchants and planners. Today the program has grown to 34 classes, 4 of which I teach. This program allows our employees to continue their education, stay engaged and connected with one another, which can become difficult in a remote environment.

As a life-long learner in 2022 I graduated Magna Cume Laude from American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service, and I am a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. I am currently working within my family’s Funeral Home T.C Bible Funeral Directors servicing families of all religious denominations throughout the tristate area. It is my hope that I can support every student in pursuing the path in post-secondary plans that meets their unique individual needs similar to that which I was afforded in my experience in this district.

What is your vision for public education in our community?  Our school district has a stated mission which I support to inspire, engage, and elevate.

My vision for public education in our community is to provide an exceptional learning environment that empowers every student to succeed in the classroom, in life and in the future. We should have high expectations and high achievements for all the students. We should provide all the necessary resources and assistance for our students as each student’s needs may differ in learning and they deserve the adequate resources.

What are your priorities in terms of policy and governance?  I look forward to working with the policy committee on recommending policy language that reflects the norms and values of our diverse community. It is my understanding that all policy making, planning and clarification of be implemented by the Superintendent and that all stakeholders be made aware of set policy language that we adopt as a board.

It is my goal to work closely with all constituents which include School Board, Superintendent, Community, Parents, and Students to ensure that our district provides a safe, secure, and orderly environment for all students while providing educational and technological programs that address the needs of all students. With respect to governance, I will focus on building a positive relationship to ensure that our district is postured to best serve the needs of all students. The most important relationship other than our students and a trusted adult is that of the Board of Education and the Superintendent. The day-to-day operations of the district are left to the Superintendent with an understanding that the Board should have oversight.

What experiences and expertise have prepared you to serve as a Board of Education member? There is no single experience that can prepare you to be a Board of Education member. As education for our students is such a dynamic and fluid event it takes strong leadership, and a commitment to the success of all students. Our strategic plan articulates what our community values. I will work to ensure that we complete the implementation of that plan.

My education and professional experiences have allowed me to develop strong strategic thinking, problem solving, managerial and leadership skills. My expertise in planning and budgeting of million-dollar businesses has afforded me the ability to analyze, negotiate contracts, and assess trends which are pertinent when working with the Board of Education governance.


Board Candidate Dawn Kitz

How many years have you lived in the South Orangetown Central School District? I have lived in the South Orangetown Central School District since the age of five. I attended William O. Schaefer, SOMS, and TZHS. I am also the mother of two TZHS graduates (Jesse and Leah Wekerle).

What is your post-secondary educational and employment/professional background? Education is my profession and my passion, with particular expertise in supporting students with special needs and their families. I earned my B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Binghamton, and my Master’s in Special Education from Lehman College, CUNY. I also earned a certificate in Work-Based Learning. I have taught at both public and private schools. My longest professional experience has been at Rockland BOCES where I worked for 24 years, from 1998-2022. At BOCES I was the Transition Coordinator, responsible for assisting hundreds of students with special needs and their families, as they transitioned from school to work and/or post-secondary programs.

What is your vision for public education in our community? My vision for public education is based on my experience working with diverse groups of learners for over 30 years. It is one in which the needs of all learners are met, as well as being able to provide social and emotional support in a safe environment. Public education should equip students with basic foundation skills, as well as prepare them for college and careers. It also helps prepare students to be responsible citizens, and ready them for life outside the classroom. Transparency and communication are key in ensuring our schools remain inclusive and strong. It is also imperative to help children fulfill their diverse potential. Students need to feel safe, welcomed, and accepted, regardless of race, identity, culture, or level of ability. This leads to a culture of kindness, and helps prevent bullying, which can lead to unsafe situations in schools.

What are your priorities in terms of policy and governance? My priorities in making policies are to:
1. ensure educational excellence
2. maintain transparency and open communication
3. spend responsibly

It is important to use resources effectively to ensure that policies and budget support the needs of our students and educational professionals, while remaining accountable to our taxpayers and community members. This means listening and respecting the expertise of those in our school buildings (teachers, union, students, staff, counselors) in relation to policy. Collaboration with all stakeholders (teachers, staff, students, parents, taxpayers) is key. It is also important to keep our district at the high level we are at, in order to maintain property values and keep South Orangetown a district that people want to send their children to. Board members should represent the interests of all community members, and I will be transparent in doing so.

What experiences and expertise have prepared you to serve as a Board of Education member? I have been in the education field for over 30 years, focusing on Special Education. I served as the Co-Chairperson of the Rockland Transition Consortium for 15 years, offering workshops for families, as well as a yearly Resource and Transition Fair for students with an IEP or 504 Plan, and their families. I also served on the Executive Board of the Rockland BOCES Staff Association. In these roles, I have worked closely with students, families, and professionals in the education field. I have regularly attended board meetings for the last two years to familiarize myself with the work. I am also currently on the Equity Coalition in our district. My retired status has now afforded me the time and energy to commit to this community. I have deep roots in this community, as I attended SOCSD, and raised my family in the district as well. This school district helped prepare my children to be successful adults. I want this to continue for all children in our community!


BOE Candidate Jenny Liz Sanchez

How many years have you lived in the South Orangetown Central School District?  I was born and raised in the Bronx. I moved to the South Orangetown Central School District 6 years ago, just in time to enroll my then 4 year old daughter into the district. The most important factor in our decision to move here was the school district, which we believe to be one of the best in the area. I currently have two young children in the district, and I am choosing to run to serve on the board of education to further improve the district for my children and everyone’s children alike.

What is your post-secondary educational and employment/professional background? I graduated from John Jay College in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, which provided me a foundation for critical thinking and ethical decision making. It also granted me direct access to making a positive impact in society.

I have been serving my community in law enforcement for close to 14 years in New York City. I love serving my community, and I am laser focused on making our communities a safer and better place to live for all children and families. I know first-hand how any small action, decision or gesture can lead to a significant change in our community and the mindset of our children. I have worked over a decade in a high-pressure environment, having to effectively and decisively handle emergency situations, instruct others on legal policies, and helping facilitate a better understanding of different cultures throughout my department. I plan to bring the skills, commitment and perseverance I’ve gained through my experience in law enforcement to the board of education to better our district and the lives of our children.

What is your vision for public education in our community?  My vision for public education in our community is having an environment that is focused on academic excellence and college preparedness, while at the same making sure every child is seen, heard, considered and respected. Simply put, it is my vision that every decision made by the Board should be guided by this simple question: Will this course of action lead to a better education for our children and better prepare them for their futures? As a board of education member, I pledge that I will make sure we equip all of our children with the necessary tools they need to excel in academics, in college, and in their futures. We must promote and reward good grades and leadership, and encourage all students to work collaboratively with their peers to understand various perspectives and better their experience. Finally, we must ensure that our children with special needs are provided with a robust developmental assistance program that will help them overcome their challenges. I will be a proud voice for parents, and will make sure to foster an environment where parents have a direct say in the education of their children.

What are your priorities in terms of policy and governance?  One of my top priorities in terms of policy and governance is making sure our children are getting the most effective education possible to not only propel them to success in college and their careers, but also to improve our district’s ranking and reputation. Not only is this in the best interest of the students, but it is also in the interest of the taxpayers who would see an increase in property values. Taxpayers have been very generous with our school budgets and the amount they pay for our school, it is time we deliver. In order to do so, an effective board must work collaboratively with parents and educators to find inefficiencies and make changes to address them. Together, we can make our district the best around.

Next, it is a priority of mine to ensure the district is providing a safe environment for children to learn. I will continue the efforts of the current board to make sure that we provide physical safety from outside threats via the use of school resource police officers and/or trained armed guards, but I will also spend a lot of time seeking to stamp out bullying. Bullying is a major problem in schools, and we must make sure we have policies in place that ensure all children feel safe, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

Finally, it is a priority of mine to ensure we have a robust special education program and other educational assistance. As a former employee of an early intervention program, I am keenly aware of the challenges some of our children face, and I know that our children need every tool in the toolbox to succeed. It is also the case that we are seeing some educational setbacks due to remote learning and absences during the recent pandemic. I commit to exploring all options to offer all the additional assistance needed for our children to have the best educational experience possible.

What experiences and expertise have prepared you to serve as a Board of Education member?  My personal experience growing up was being raised in poverty, being a product of the New York City public education system, and overcoming all obstacles that were before me to eventually achieve my goals. I have my dream family, my dream career and my dream hometown, and I am now in a position where I serve on our school board and can give back to our children to make sure they can persevere like I did. I have already served our communities in law enforcement for a decade, gaining invaluable real-world experience dealing with people of various cultures, backgrounds, income levels, etc. I am fully aware that it takes a village to raise our children. I am a product of a team effort, a group of people who cared. I have three brothers, two of which were part of a special education program and who are now both successful men who are likewise public servants bettering their community. As a mother to a now 9 year old daughter and 5 year old son, I see the many challenges my children face daily. I am running for the board of education because I want to be there to help facilitate this educational journey with each parent that sends their children off to school each morning hoping their children are being properly educated and carefully preserved.

I have dedicated my life to serve as a voice to and for the community and a liaison between those in need of help and those with the ability to provide help. I constantly deal with emergency situations that require quick thinking and even quicker solutions. Further, I presently manage the allocated budgets in my department, which uniquely positions me to analyze the school budget and take appropriate action when necessary. I am confident that both my personal and professional experiences have prepared me to serve on the SOCSD board of education, and I hope to have your support!