Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
Now that we have a clearer version of events leading to Board of Education Vice President Terence Hale’s resignation, I am being pressed to withdraw my petition to the State Department of Education—supposedly to save the district the cost of responding. I will explain why I will not.
Mr. Hale implicated me in those emails. He either implied or stated that I and others are liars. He stated many other things improper for a school board member.
Mr. Hale claims he apologized to the board. However, his apology email was to me alone and did not specifically address his egregious transgressions. It diminished his culpability, saying the emails were “private” and “between adults.” He completely negated even that apology when resigning, saying the charges were frivolous and he was resigning solely to save the district money. Although he admitted privately to inappropriate language, in public he accused me of taking political advantage. Had he openly admitted his wrongdoing, or even read aloud the private apology, I’d be more inclined to let it pass.
But his resignation is disingenuous. He aims solely to avoid being exposed in the community or humiliated by review and possible removal by the State Department of Education. I believe his friends on the board told him to fall on his sword so blame would attach only to him. Yet he has made public his intent to run again next year. So what is the point of his resignation now but to quash my complaint?
He also solicited others to provide statements supporting him and attacking me. These actions say to the community: “If any of you hold us accountable this is what we will do to you.” Christine Napolitano told me by phone that she objected to Hale’s emails.
Curiously, she now supports him. By portraying the charges as frivolous and engaging in a post-petition campaign to chill dissent, they force me to stand fast.
I first raised my objections privately, to the board. Mr. Hale had the chance to resign and chose not to. The board had a chance to reprimand him and chose not to.
I also want it known that at the June workshop Mr. Hale and a supporter made veiled threats against my family. Mr. Hale suggested said that people like me will “get it in the neck.” His supporter—a district employee who works where one of my children attends school—suggested I should not want my children “bogged down with this baggage.” Not one trustee spoke out against his comments. No one who publicly attacked me was cautioned to be civil, a caution Mr. Hale has taken to extremes previously. I may seek separate legal relief to hold the board collectively and individually responsible for the travesty that was that June meeting; it was the epitome of an out-of-control, unprofessional board. The district and board also ignored a letter from my legal counsel requesting action on the veiled threats against my children.
Collectively Mr. Hale and his supporters believe they are unaccountable. They feel they can attack me, insult residents, and threaten my children with impunity. So, I will not withdraw my petition and further legal action may be necessary. I also do this for the people of the district, who should not have to fear that holding public officials accountable will lead to social ostracism or more serious damages. I am confident that the more light that is shed on this board, the more people will understand why I won’t back down. I will persevere.
Mineola Board of Education