Home Faculty meeting The mask’s mandate divides the district | Herald Community Newspapers

The mask’s mandate divides the district | Herald Community Newspapers


The divide between parents, school administrators and residents was clear in the auditorium at Locust Valley High School on Tuesday evening. At an Education Council meeting, where discussion centered on a September 10 lawsuit filed by the district against the state in response to his school mask tenure, a large group of people without a mask sat on one side of the auditorium, and a smaller group, wearing masks, sat on the other.

Board trustees, with the exception of vice-chairman Margaret Marchand and Lauren Themis, wore masks, as did the superintendent, Dr Kenneth Graham and other trustees seated nearby. Behind them, on a big screen, was the directive: “All visitors must wear a mask indoors. “

While the district complies with the state Department of Health’s mandate that masks be worn indoors by all students, faculty, staff – and visitors – it is the responsibility of President Brian Nolan to apply it during the meeting. He does not have. Reached the next day by phone, Nolan said he spoke to the district legal counsel before the meeting and was advised not to make the warrant known to the public, which he did by posting it to the ‘screen.

“I didn’t want to get into a conflict at the meeting and I didn’t want to have to adjourn the meeting,†Nolan said. “I don’t have an answer as to why Margaret wasn’t wearing a mask. We will follow up with a lawyer.

Themis appeared to be eating a snack during the meeting. When she wasn’t, she put on her mask. When Nolan was later asked if eating was appropriate at a board meeting, he said no. “The board will discuss it,” he said. “[Masks] are a burning problem.

At the meeting, Stephanie Lamb, from Bayville, referred to a letter Nolan received from Dr Betty Rosa, state education commissioner, on September 7. The night before, the board of directors had voted not to follow the mask’s tenure, and Rosa wrote that the district’s “willful violation” of the directive would result in Nolan’s impeachment. The board then voted 5-2 to follow the term, with Themis abstaining and Marchand the lone dissenter.

“There was a ‘willful violation’ vote again and the board member is still staying,†Lamb said. “What is the difference between the chairman of the board and the vice chairman of the board voting in willful violation?” “

Nolan read the letter of resignation from Trustee Dr. Joseph A. Zito. An emergency doctor, Zito said he could no longer sit on the board because his workload had become too demanding.

Zito first voted to challenge the mandate, then voted to allow it. He also supported the trial. Nonetheless, he wrote: “As a doctor working on the front line of Covid daily for 18 months, I can say with absolute certainty that the most important thing you can do for yourself and your children is to get vaccinated” , wrote Zito. “I am no longer in favor of continuing the mask warrant trial… The trial is a waste of time and resources that could be better spent on enriching the learning experience for our students.”

Zito added that while Covid was stressful for everyone, it was no excuse for “the anger and vitriol I have witnessed over the past year and that is certainly not the behavior that we want to model for our children â€. … [T]its division will cause irreparable harm to our community.

The district joined the Massapequa School District in filing a lawsuit against the state in the New York State Supreme Court and hired the Hamburger, Maxson, Yaffe & Martingale law firm to represent it. . A few parents wanted to know the cost of hiring the business.

The down payment alone would be between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000, said Amy Hartnett, a Bayville resident. “Then we’ll be billed $ 350 per billable hour for partners and $ 250 per billable hour for lawyers working on this case,†she said. “Where will the money come from? Is there a limit on how much we will spend on this trial? How much money is the district willing to reallocate from meaningful learning initiatives for satisfy one’s own pride? â€

But Kim Rizzo, also from Bayville, said the trial was important. “It’s not about masks anymore,” she said. “It is about our rights and freedoms being taken from us. We shouldn’t be fired.

Rizzo brought a document that she said contained 300 signatures from residents who supported the lawsuit, which she presented to the board. “I represent the parents for the choice,†she said. “We will stand up for every child. “

Lamb disputed some of the information in the lawsuit. “Board Chairman Nolan has stated that all classrooms in Locust Valley are air conditioned,†she said. “If this is true, there are a lot of parents, students and teachers who don’t know it. “

Nolan admitted the next day that his statement was wrong and called it an oversight. “We have submitted a corrected version of the trial,” he said. “It should have been said that we have air purifiers in every classroom.”

The lawsuit also says the desks and seats in classrooms are at least three feet apart, which Lamb says is not. The week before the school board meeting, Patrick DiClemente, principal of Locust Valley High School, said in a meeting with parents that students were not adhering to the three-foot social distancing policy in the cafeteria.

“He is seriously considering reinstating the single seat he had last year,” Lamb said of DiClemente. “It’s high school… I can’t imagine that it works better with the younger people in the district. These are the students who cannot yet receive the vaccine. “

Claiming that the mask’s warrant is not needed in schools, the lawsuit cites the region’s high vaccination rate. “Nassau County has the highest vaccination rate of any county in the state,†he says. “Currently, 89.0% of adults in Nassau County have at least one dose of vaccination. … This is the third highest vaccination rate of any country with a population of over one million.

Lamb has not questioned the statistic, but said it does not include children under 12, which makes it misleading.

Not everyone shared Lamb’s outrage over the lawsuit. Marisa Friedrich said she removed two of her children from the district because of the mask’s warrant and supported the lawsuit. “We have to defend the rights of our children and our parental rights,†she said. “We are at war – war on family and war on parental choice. A child’s right to breathe is secondary at best.


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