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Lawrence trustee Michael Hatten seeks Nassau BOCES board seat

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With his half century of post-secondary educational experience, Lawrence Board of Education Trustee Michael Hatten has tossed his figurative hat into the ring to run for a seat on the Nassau BOCES board with the unanimous approval of his colleagues.

“I have 50 years in post-secondary education and I have applied that experience to various boards,” Hatten said. “This is a natural extension to that. If I can add to the good work BOCES has done already and with my experience and what I know in the field of education that’s what I want to do.”

BOCES — Board of Cooperative Educational Services — was established in Nassau County in 1967. Serving 56 school districts it is the largest BOCES in the state. It operates nearly three-dozen locations, ranging from large facilities such as the Joseph M. Barry Career & Technical Education Center in Westbury to several classrooms in a local school. BOCES offers roughly 100 different programs and services that change in response to school district needs.

Hatten, 74, who has been on the Lawrence board for the second time since 2016, is the president of Far Rockaway-based Global Business Institute, a vocational training school. “A lot of things are changing in New York state, there is a pendulum shift at the highest level of the Board of Regents that recognizes the value of the trades,” he said. “It was acknowledged that technical education was gutted from various institutions. In New York City there is a recognition on the part of the Department of Education that a vocational track can lead to really some terrific things in life.”

Candidates are nominated by their respective boards of education. There are three seats on the nine-member BOCES board that will expire on June 30, the official end of the school year. Current Vice President Deborah Coates and Trustee Eric Shultz hold two of the seats. The other seat is vacant because longtime Trustee Stephen Witt retired. He was also a longtime Hewlett-Woodmere board member. All terms are three years. 

“Each of our board members bring with them a unique perspective on the challenges facing local school districts and educators,” BOCES officials state on the website. “Through their experiences as board members in their home districts, as well as their professional areas of expertise, our board provides invaluable educational leadership and vision to our administration, staff and region.”

Murray Forman, president of Lawrence’s board, wholeheartedly endorsed Hatten’s nomination. “I think it would be an extraordinary feather in the district’s cap as well as a wonderful thing for the students of New York state to have somebody of Mr. Hatten’s experience, acumen and commitment to education,” Forman said.

Should he be elected, Hatten said he would look into how BOCES could advance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs across the county. He also promoted the idea of  “making inroads to counseling on the secondary level” and would like to see if it is practical to create individualized educations plans for every high school student. Typically created for students with learning challenges or physical disabilities, IEPs help to ensure that students receive the services and special instruction they need.     

“Groundbreaking things are happening all the time,” Hatten said, adding that the “future in education is public–private partnerships.” “We are functioning in an environment that’s conducive to change.”

Board nominations most be postmarked March 17. Ballots are sent March 27. On April 1 there is a meet the candidates forum. Voting is April 21. April 22 for central high school districts.