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Letter: Island Trees School Board Public Meeting

I am emailing this to the editor of The Levittown Tribune so I am not misquoted by the editor as was stated at the Board meeting on April 30, where Superintendent Charles Murphy and the Island Trees Board President Ken Rochon said the reporter has been misquoting them in the paper.

 

At the meeting, the board opened the floor to public comment. The first taxpayer got up to the microphone to ask about minutes from the prior meetings, and was told there weren’t any taken. When asking why, the board replied that unless there had been a motion, then no minutes were taken.  When asked again, the lawyer from the School District told him, if you want the minutes, you’ll have to submit a request for the Freedom of Information Act and he [the lawyer] will go over it and will determine if he will send it to you.  

 

Board President Rochon said there were no minutes. Under the Sunshine Law, when elected officials have a meeting and have a quorum, minutes must be taken of the matters discussed.  I’ve personally been to hundreds of meetings and there has always been someone recording the minutes.  It seems this Board does not want to have a record of what’s been discussed available to the public.  

 

The same taxpayer then raised a question about the petition for one of the current board members regarding the whiting out of the one board member’s name and replacing the name with another after the petitions had been signed.  He was told to show the copy of the petition in question to the Superintendent’s secretary.

 

The next taxpayer asked a question about the identity of the developer doing the Farmedge property project, which the Superintendent refused to answer. Another taxpayer asked the President Rochon about the petition. That’s when the Board member whose name was typed over the whited out name on the petition and another female board member started shouting at the taxpayer. 

 

As I was going toward the back of the gym to leave, I witnessed the two Board members turn and charge toward the taxpayer who questioned the petitions.  

 

I was approximately 2 feet from the taxpayer when I saw the Board member touch the taxpayer and was face to face with him, shouting at him. I told her, “hey stop”  Security was behind her and escorted her out.

 

I’m 69 years old and this behavior frightened me. 

 

At the April 30th Island Trees school board meeting, I filled out and submitted a request to address the Board of Education regarding the draining of the fuel tanks at Gallow School.  My request was never brought up because a shouting match about the petition had ensued and the Board President yelled they were going into Executive Session.  I asked if they were coming back after Executive Session, to which the board responded no.

 

On May 1, I came across no. 17 Board of Education Acceptance of Revised Policy #5300, section XIV, Public Conduct on School Property – Second Reading. When you read Policy #5300 Section E, it states as follows:

 

No. 6 - Harassment which includes a sufficiently severe action or a persistent, pervasive pattern of actions or statements directed at an identifiable individual or group which are intended to be, or which a reasonable person would perceive as ridiculing or demeaning.  Harassment is also the creation of a hostile environment. (See Policy 0115, Student Harassment and Bullying Prevention & Intervention for more complete definition)

 

No. 7 - Intimidation which includes engaging in actions or statements that put an individual in fear of bodily harm and, No. 8 - Bullying which may be hostile activity which harms or induces fear through threat of further aggression and/or creates terror.

 

How do parents of the children in the audience explain the board members’ despicable behavior.

 

I have no idea what’s going on, but someone’s red flag went off when the question about the whiting out of the name on the petition was brought up.  I’m going to look into this and if need be, I’ll contact the Legal Department of the Board of Elections in Mineola since the petition is a legal document.

 

Dominic Ciaramella

 

Concerned Levittown Taxpayer