The Beekmantown Central School District Community Coalition has released the full text of its initial appeal in the hopes words will stir more members of the community to speak out against what has become a controversial decision for the school district.
Simona Sharoni — the mother of a student in the school district and spokesperson on behalf of the community coalition — recently released to the media the full text of the appeal filed with the state Education Department, signed by Dr. David J. Anderson, Robert G. Collier, and John P. Bradley.
The text of the appeal contains the main argument of the coalition, that the positions of former Beekmantown High School principal Garth Frechette and former Cumberland Head Elementary School principal Diane Fox were swapped and the “reassignment had not been discussed at any properly convened meeting of the [board of education].” The appeal called on the state Education Department to take immediate action in mediating a discussion between the school board and the community, calling the board’s decision “highly unusual and contrary to school board policy.”
Sharoni said she felt it was important the public read what the coalition was asking of the board, which summarily was an explanation for the board’s decision. She added the coalition filed the appeal to plead with board of education to “consult with experts in the field about the recent decisions they made and their ramifications.”
“We were concerned that the board made these questionable decisions and is now unwilling to take responsibility for the public outcry and loss of confidence in them,” said Sharoni. “We filed the appeal in hope that the commissioner will appoint an outside mediator to help de-escalate the present tension between the board and the community.”
The decision to swap Frechette’s and Fox’s positions was made at the July 5 meeting of the board of education, with board members Cathy Buckley, Leonard King, Stanley Kourofsky, Richard Lavigne, Carole Race and Pauline Stone voting for the move. Board president Steve Trombley and board members Karen Armstrong and Ed Marin voted against the swap. The board was further served a petition at a July 26 meeting containing 185 signatures of district residents against reassigning Frechette and Fox.
When reached for comment, board of education president Steve Trombley said there has been no discussion among board members to reverse the principal swap.
“It is clear to us now that the board is unwilling to revisiting the swap. It is a bad decision and we will have to live with,” said Sharoni. “What we need to ensure is that future decisions will be consistent with board policy and that a rationale for them will be shared with the community.”
Sharoni added the coalition plans to be in attendance at the next meeting of the board of education, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the high school library. The meeting will begin at 6:15 p.m.
“The community mobilized to voice its disagreement with the principles swap. We need to keep people inform and involved,” said Sharoni. “This is one key way to continue to hold the board accountable and to build the capacity, skills, and confidence of people that would be willing to run for board positions in the next elections.”
Editor’s Note: The full text of the coalition’s appeal may be found on our website, www.the-burgh.com.