Like many residents of Riverhead this week, we are appalled at how the school district administration and the board of education handled everything that happened with the district’s senior affairs official.
Rumors had been circulating about Assistant Superintendent Sam Schneider for more than two weeks when the school board abolished his position on Tuesday night and reassigned him to an Assistant Superintendent position – with tenure and without any explanation.
Not a day had passed without a local resident calling, texting, or Facebook messages to one of us asking if we had heard this or that about Schneider, who would have been absent from the office for such and such a reason. Over the years, there have been so many administrators and teachers assigned to their homes or random offices that I have honestly lost count. I wasn’t sure if the rumors that Schneider was working remotely were true, but I did know two things: there was no way I would get any solid information about it from a district official; and sooner or later whatever happened, if anything, would come out – well, to some extent, anyway.
When the school board informed the public of a special âexecutive session onlyâ meeting on September 28, without specifying why the meeting would be held in camera, the rumor mill really kicked in. And when, three days later, the district clerk issued notice of another special “executive session only” meeting for October 4 – to discuss contract negotiations – the rumor mill shifted into high gear. .
Add to this the message from the superintendent to the community, posted on the district website between the two special meetings, stating that personnel matters cannot be discussed publicly and that he would give the public as much information as they can. could as soon as he could.
At the Tuesday 12 meeting, the board of directors acted, without explanation, by changing Schneider’s title and responsibilities, but not his salary, and granting him tenure.
On Tuesday, the board of directors also appointed, without comment or explanation, another person as the âinterimâ sales manager for a salary of $ 125 an hour.
Aside from what triggered Schneider’s apparent demotion, the appointment of an âinterimâ sales manager raised some very logical questions that deserve to be resolved.
First, is there a âsales managerâ position in the district to start with? How can we have an âinterimâ sales manager unless there is a position with that name? As far as we know, no one was in that position until all of this – anything – happened. If there was no âsales managerâ position before, when was it created? And how is it funded? This would require some kind of amendment to the adopted budget, it seems. How much of an amendment? In other words, what is it going to cost taxpayers?
We asked these questions, very directly and repeatedly, of the new superintendent on Wednesday. We had nothing but a sleight of hand: non-compliant responses, a cross-reference to the prepared statement posted on the district’s website, and a non-response “response” from the relationship company. district public which referred us to the same prepared statement that had nothing to do with the questions we were asking. The essence of these “answers” is that they cannot discuss the “personal”.
I’m calling BULLSH * T.
Our questions – did the sales manager position exist before October 12, when was it created, how is it funded, and how much is it funded – are not questions about âpeopleâ. These are budgetary questions and directly concern the taxpayers of the municipalities, who have the right to obtain answers.
The district’s attempt to hide behind the “staff” is laughable. No matter what the district tries to tell us, and no matter what their paid spokesperson (read: lawyer) says at the district’s request at the next council meeting, “staff” is not a check. blank to hold discussions in camera.
Go read the law on open meetings. Certain matters are not the subject of public debate, including matters relating specifically to the employment of a particular person. There is no âpersonalâ exemption. The creation of a new post and certainly the financing of this new post are not covered by any exemption.
The public has the right to know how public money is spent. The public has the right to get straight answers to straightforward questions about how their money is spent. The fact that we pay large sums of money to administrators, lawyers and public relations firms to deny us the right to these answers is simply reprehensible.
And it is more than reprehensible for the people we elect as “trustees” to watch how our money is spent on the education of our children, to hide behind a wall erected by well-paid administrators, lawyers and a public relations firm. This is especially true when you consider that the chair of this board is a self-proclaimed former community ‘watchdog’ who spent many years on the other side of the podium screaming at old boards. directors for doing exactly what she was doing now that she has a seat. on the platform.
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