By Jamie Wiggan
The search to fill the Sto-Rox school board continues, after one of the two candidates approved during the Aug. 20 business meeting rescinded his offer shortly afterward.
After interviewing four candidates, the board approved Antonio Bonnetty and Dorrian Glenn to fill the two remaining seats created by the resignations of three board members in late June. Glenn, Focus on Renewal’s workforce coordinator, later said he would not be taking the position because of what he understood to be political maneuvering during the selection process.
“I ended up turning it down,” he said. “I got a sense that I was gonna get involved in a lot of political nonsense.”
Selecting from the pool of four, the board put forward Bonnetty and Glenn for the first of two available positions, where the majority weighed in behind Bonnetty. Glenn was again nominated for the second available position and won by a unanimous vote.
Glenn, a 1996 Sto-Rox graduate, said he was taken aback by the preference shown to a younger candidate with new roots in the community. Sure of his lengthier resume and stronger community connections, Glenn surmised other motives were at work.
“It was like winning a participation trophy,” Glenn said. “… I’m gonna put my energy into what I’m currently doing to effect change in the community.”
Although both candidates were approved during the August business meeting, the board’s appointments are not formalized until a magistrate swears them in.
Bonnetty is expected to take his oath when the board convenes Sept. 17.
Raised by a military family, Bonnetty said he moved around frequently during his youth but most recently lived in Hawaii. After marrying a Stowe native, Bonnetty moved to the district last year and enrolled at Duquesne University’s School of Law.
Bonnetty said he wants to promote financial literacy as a tool for empowering the community and hopes to partner with his school’s legal community to expose Sto-Rox youth to professional opportunities.
“I really want to bring in that perspective, that there really are a lot of opportunities,” he said. “…Especially since our community is majority African-American.”
Although the district’s general population is 28% Black and 63% white, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, those numbers almost flip when honing on district enrollment, where 28% of students are white and 56% are Black.
This diversity is not however reflected in the district’s predominantly-white teaching and administrative staff, as residents and school officials have discussed variously during recent meetings.
Before January, when Alice Cooper succeeded Cheri Zielinski, the board was similarly unrepresentative, with eight white directors occupying a nine-seat board.
The recent departures of Kevin Farley, Grace Weber and Patrick Dorrenbacher have enabled the board to increase its diversity. Cameron Culliver, an African-American, was appointed last month, and Bonnetty’s upcoming swearing-in will bring the board to equal Black and white representation.
Board President Samantha Levitzki-Wright said she did not yet know how the board would fill the final vacancy, but said it would consider the two candidates who interviewed in August without securing nominations.