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Oct 22, 2019 1:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecock Nation Nears Completion Of Renewed Agreements With Southampton and Tuckahoe Schools

Tuckahoe Common School District is renewing its contract with New York State to get state funding for the continued education of Shinnecock students. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Oct 22, 2019 3:32 PM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is in the middle of finalizing two new tuition contracts with the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts that would allow Shinnecock students to stay enrolled in those schools.

The contracts are between the school districts and the New York State Education Department to allow the state to reimburse the districts for the costs of tuition for enrolled Shinnecock students, based on yearly individual tuition rates and the number of students. The tribe, although it does not sign the agreements, plays a large role in what stipulations are included in the contracts and what school districts they want to enroll their children in.

Both contracts expired this year, and officials have been negotiating new agreements in recent months. Superintendents of both districts and tribal officials said that new contracts will likely be completed and signed in the next few weeks.

The Nation has had a contract with Southampton for decades, renewed every five or 10 years, and nearly all Shinnecock students attended school in that district. Last year, approximately 130 school-age children were enrolled in Southampton.

The existing five-year contract, which expired on June 30 and has carried over since then, budgeted a total of $26 million over the life of the contract. The Native American tuition rate for Southampton averaged $25,502 per student and $58,640 for a student with a disability for the 2017-18 school year.

But the Nation also began a contract with Tuckahoe five years ago. Over those five years, only a few Shinnecock students were enrolled in the district — but this year, that number grew to 20.

“I feel like the parents, they didn’t know that Tuckahoe was an option,” said Tribal Trustee Germain Smith, who has been the Trustee most involved in the contract negotiations. “I made it available to anyone, any parent who wanted to visit Tuckahoe. We set up tours, and they visited, and it was completely the parents’ choice. And they decided that they wanted to pull their kids from Southampton and go to Tuckahoe.”

Tuckahoe Superintendent Len Skuggevik said that 20 students is the limit under the existing contract. Despite reaching the cap and seeing a significant increase from past years, he said the district was able to “absorb them, no problem.”

“We thought it would be smaller numbers to start, to be honest. But 20 students showed up — so we’re working with those 20 students. And their parents and the Nation have been great so far,” Mr. Skuggevik said. “It’s been a very open, very friendly relationship. Glad they’re here.”

The estimated tuition rate per Shinnecock student is about $26,000 for this school year at Tuckahoe, according to the superintendent, and the State Education Department finalizes that number after the school year ends.

Earlier this year, tribal officials and parents claimed that Southampton was not fulfilling certain requirements of the current contract, including having staff liaisons solely to assist Shinnecock students, as well as having tribal representation in the district’s hiring process of new employees.

They said they were considering sending all of their children to a different school district but have since decided to stay primarily at Southampton. Negotiations are underway to ensure that the conditions in the existing agreement are met.

“What we’re looking to do is just hold them more accountable to what has already been in the contract for several years, probably decades, actually,” Mr. Smith said.

“I’m really excited that we are close to having a contract. In the meantime, we’re servicing our Shinnecock students the best way we can,” Southampton Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Dyno said. “Through the new contract, we’re hoping to bring the school district and the Shinnecock community closer together.”

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Its unfortunate that the tribal officials reconsidered sending the students elsewhere.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Oct 22, 19 3:01 PM
They didn’t. Just noise.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 23, 19 5:59 AM
What is the actual cost per student in tuckahoe and southampton?
How is the tribe insisting to be part of the hiring process, they are not paying???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 22, 19 5:37 PM