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Editorial: In Praise of the Great Neck School District

When the Right Thing is the Hard Thing to Do

Once again the new school year in Great Neck began with a smooth opening and the anticipation of a wonderfully productive school year. “The schools were alive with excitement and activity right from the start,” said Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz.

Yet much of the special magic of a new school year in Great Neck was quickly over-shadowed by the news of an alleged SAT cheating scam involving Great Neck students. The resulting, relentless publicity and the constant attempts to bring down our school district were totally uncalled for and completely off base.

It was the staff at Great Neck North High School who actually discovered the possibility of a “cheating ring” and it was the North High administration who brought the issue to the office of the Nassau County District Attorney. Praising the Board of Education at a recent school board meeting, North High Principal Bernie Kaplan spoke of how the board faced this issue head-on, an instance where “the right thing was the hard thing to do.”

Yet the Great Neck Public Schools did the right thing! They did it with forethought, with deliberation, and I am sure, with some sadness as to what was involved. But they did the right thing!

And then the press pounced! Some newspapers, television and radio stations saw all sorts of sensational possibilities. No matter that the accusations of cheating occurred at schools outside of the Great Neck School District. No matter that our schools were not involved in any way. Still, it was a terrific prospect for those members of the media who sought to discredit a truly outstanding school district and create a media circus that spread to other parts of our community, including the library bond referendum. What did or did not occur had nothing to do with our schools, and surely was not related in any way to any other issues in our community.

Superintendent of Schools Tom Dolan was proud to state how “openly” his school district was dealing with the allegations and with the aftermath. Dr. Dolan has always been available to speak to the press and, in this case, has released appropriate statements. However, as Ms. Berkowitz stated, quite rightly, this is an ongoing investigation and they cannot comment any further.

Ms. Berkowitz, Dr. Dolan and Mr. Kaplan all spoke of the pride they feel for their school district and how the entire district has handled the sad course of events, including the many grossly unfair and completely untrue statements about our schools.

The Great Neck Public Schools, the Board of Education, and the school district’s faculty and staff had absolutely nothing to do with this sad turn of events nor with the harsh targeting by some members of the press.

Our school district has, as ever, done the right thing.

We are not at all surprised, but we continue to be so very proud of the Great Neck Public Schools!

—-Wendy Karpel Kreitzman