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Story - Education

Feb 17, 2010 10:44 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe parent drops board overhaul effort

Feb 17, 2010 10:44 AM

The man who has been spearheading a petition drive seeking a referendum on transforming the Tuckahoe Common School into a union free school district said Friday that he has decided not to appeal the Tuckahoe School Board’s refusal to act on the petition’s request.

Kevin Luss submitted the petition seeking a referendum—which, if approved, would mean the dissolution of the current school board and the creation of a new one, possibly with more members—to the district late last month. He originally said he would appeal to the State Department of Education, but on Friday he said the level of acrimony and anger at the district’s board meeting last Monday night was a sign that the Tuckahoe community cannot handle a transformation now.

“I don’t think it’s a healthy time right now,” Mr. Luss said Friday. “I wasn’t ready for the anger and some of the personal things at the meeting. I don’t want to be at the center of that. There’s a lot of toxicity associated with this now, and I’m not looking to be that person.”

Mr. Luss, whose children attend the Tuckahoe School, said that any of the other 32 people who signed the petition can pick up the ball and appeal to the state, which can act on the petition even if the local board declines to. The appeal would have to be filed within 30 days of last Monday’s meeting, during which only one of the three School Board members was willing to vote on the referendum proposal.

A common school district typically changes to a union free district when it joins with another district or wants to expand to include high school grades. The switch allows a district to dissolve its school board and reconstitute it, with between three and nine board members elected in a special vote.

Two of the Tuckahoe School Board members, Chairperson Sharon Grindle and Susan Riccardi, have been the targets of criticism from parents for much of their tenure on the board, particularly since the pair refused to offer Superintendent Linda Rozzi a new contract last summer, leading to Ms. Rozzi’s resignation in December. Ms. Riccardi is up for reelection in May, but the district plans to hire a new superintendent by the end of April, and dissatisfied residents have been pushing to overhaul the board before then.

The third member, Robert Grisnik, who has been on the Tuckahoe School Board for 27 years, said the decision on whether to push for the referendum is up to the community, but he thinks the issue should go to a ballot.

“The community needs to make a decision on which direction they would like to go,” he said Friday. “If they want change, it’s their choice, and as a board member I will do whatever is necessary to honor that. That’s why I voted to schedule a vote. I think the board should have let the whole community have its say.”

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Grisnik is right. it should go to a ballot. Let the Board focus on what they need to do in the best interest of the school community and stop shifting the focus to defending their every move. However, please BOARD when you make decisions that affect the whole community please discuss openly why you are making these decisions (Ie: not renewing contracts, etc...). We the taxpayers and parents are entitled to know. We elected you and deserve this from you. This whole controversy could have been avoided ...more
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 10 9:22 AM
I request that one of the 33 petitioners put together factual information to present to the community taxpayers as to the differences between the UFSD and CSD. Additonal Board Members sounds like a wonderful attribute, but what are the rest of the details of such a move, and how will it affect the taxes, the running of the school, the teaching of the children, the curriculum, etc? It appears as though many people want change. It is important to educate everyone in the community as to the change ...more
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Feb 13, 10 12:06 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Observant (14), southampton on Feb 13, 10 2:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
We're not drinking your Kool-aid. Sorry.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Feb 13, 10 3:18 PM

"However, please BOARD when you make decisions that affect the whole community please discuss openly why you are making these decisions (Ie: not renewing contracts, etc...). We the taxpayers and parents are entitled to know."

Infoseeker: We all know the genesis of this controversy - the resignation of Mrs. Rozzi. The extreme behaviour in Board meetings as some members of the Board were verbally attacked on this issue. Ms Grindle has repeatedly said she would like to oblige but was ...more
By Observant (14), southampton on Feb 13, 10 2:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you for your explaination. I think many folks in the district who are opposed to what has happened, feel as though their hands have been tied and not known who could answer any questions. I can understand if there are more serious allegations that the Board has tried to protect Mrs. Rozzi,by not sharing. I for one, would not know who the school's legal counsel is that represents us. Where would someone find that out? I also thnk some of the mistrust comes because the Board is being in full ...more
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 10 3:22 PM
i meant, I think some of the mistrust comes because the Board IS NOT in full agreement with eachtoher.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 10 3:27 PM
Still, everyone talking about something OTHER than the CSD vs. UFSD-
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Feb 13, 10 4:18 PM

The name of the school's lawyer is available from the Administration's office or the Superintendent and I'm certain Counsel will tell you that such information about the legal agreement concerned is strictly confidential and subject to legal penalties for the school if violated.

Any Board member who fails to admit this legal proscription is flat out lying, which is not surprising.
By Observant (14), southampton on Feb 13, 10 4:32 PM
This little fiefdom is imploding. This school should be melded in with several others on the east end with a common, and less expensive, administration. Tax payers are paying $28+ per student annually. What a joke.
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Feb 13, 10 5:35 PM
For those that need a reminder of how we got here, please follow this link for an article in the Southampton Press from 2007

http://74.205.125.148/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Search&Key=SPE/2007/06/21/3/Ar00300.xml&CollName=SPE_APA3&DOCID=103959&PageLabelPrint=A3&Skin=SouthamptonA&AppName=2&sPublication=SPE&sScopeID=All&sSorting=Score%2cdesc&sQuery=grimaldi&rEntityType=ARTICLE&HedLine_hl=&Byline=&Body=&sSearchInAll=false&dc:creator=&PageLabel=&dc:publisher=&ViewMode=HTML
Like ...more
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Feb 22, 10 3:41 PM