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Board Tables Code of Conduct Approval for Further Discussion

At beginning of the last New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board meeting, president Ernest Gentile made the following statement, “During the meeting we would normally have a report from trustee Annette Giarratani, but she has been at North Shore Hospital for some time since she suffered an aneurism.  She has had several surgeries, and seems to be doing a little better, but I implore you to keep her in your thoughts. I know this is a busy time, but just keep her in your thoughts.”

During the open portion of the meeting, Frank Cienski came to the microphone and said, “I’m a parent and a member of the Hillside Grade School PTA.  I have several questions in regards to the Code of Conduct.  I would like to oppose approving the Code of Conduct for tonight and move to the next meeting.”

President Gentile said, “We really can’t do that since we have it on the agenda.”

However, it was established, after much discussion, that the Code of Conduct would be discussed at the board work session meeting on July 26 and then voted on in the August school board meeting.

Cienski said, “Then I would like to propose some changes. I’ll breeze through a few other quick questions before I return to the Code of Conduct.  I received an email in regards to the grants from Senator Craig Johnson and I wanted to know what is their status.  Are we not receiving them at all?”

Superintendent Katulak said, “They are currently at the Dormitory Authority waiting for the passage of the budget.  Like everything, our UPK program is up in the air and we received that information from Rafe Lieber in the senator’s office.  In the event that the grant does not come through, the board is in total agreement the items that would be included in the grant would be given top priority as we go forward with the capital project.  So either way those items will get done.”

Cienski asked, “Would that mean that the survey shows something that we should be concerned about?”

Katulak said, “No, the building conditions survey just looks at things that are starting to deteriorate and things we should be looking at.  For instance, when we see fascia board starting to rot, we will repair that so there will not be any water seepage or cause any mold.  But, there are no safety issues for Hillside Grade.”

Cienski then spoke to Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Frank.  He said, “You were deeply missed because you didn’t come around to do the budget presentation, particularly at Hillside Grade School.  Mr. Katulak did a good job for a summary, but there was no discussion and no interaction on the budget. I would much prefer that you give the presentation and then deal with the questions that have to be discussed and not breeze out in 20 minutes. The last four years you have done that and I have been very appreciative that you did. Mr. Katulak left after just 15 minutes and I had a lot of questions.  Not that I didn’t approve the budget, but I think we had a budget above and beyond and I wanted to know how we could save so much.  I just want to know when you will start the budget process again, so I can learn more about it?”

Superintendent Katulak said, “We start the budget process again in January and the exact dates will be listed on the district website.”

Cienski said, “I have made notations of what I wanted to change in the Code of Conduct.  Basically, it is in regards to the section entitled, “Reporting Violations.”  In the first sentence it states, “All students are expected to promptly report violations of the Code of Conduct to a teacher, building principal” and he wanted inserted in that, before teacher is named the word ‘parent.’  He wanted to also add the word parent to the paragraph that states that, ‘the principal or his/her designee must notify the parent, the appropriate local law enforcement agency of those code violations that constitute a crime.”

Cienski also wanted the language changed in the last page that refers to the implementation of an educational program be established to ensure the effective implementation of the Code of Conduct.

Cienski, was on the Code of Conduct committee and he said that the committee, “Agreed to disagree.”

Trustee Rudd said, “I don’t mind taking a little more time to further discuss this Code of Conduct.”

The next person to speak on this subject was Michelle Chambers who made the following statement:

“I am very glad that you came up with this new Code of Conduct.  A code of conduct which fits your idea of protecting our children and making parents and children feel secure and that you will do what is right in every situation.

“I do also understand that you expect us to respect these codes and what you have decided is best.

“While I’m sure that you truly believe your decisions and newfound codes are in the best interest of our children, I can assure you I do not know of any parent that will not go to the ends of the earth to protect their child, if they feel their child has been unjustly wronged.

“I can also assure you that a parent protecting their child will trump any Code of Conduct every time.

“So, in regards to the recent activity in our schools, I just want to add my personal codicil to these codes.

“I am the parent and only I know what is in the best interest of my children.  I am the one who make the decisions because that is my job.  So be it the grammar school, or high school, if I feel there is a situation where the police should be contacted and/or notified, I will do so without hesitation and will let the law be my Code of Conduct.”

The board then approved the appointment of and resignation of many teachers and then trustee Rudd questioned the use of the Manor Oaks gym by the Holy Sprit CYO on Thursday until December and then Special Olympic Basketball has the use of that facility from January to June. Holy Spirit CYO has the use of the gym on Monday nights from January to June.

One resident wanted to know the status of the bathrooms at Manor Oaks and the blacktop at Manor Oaks.  

President Gentile said, again, “One way or another we will see to it that those items are addressed.”

A last minute question was addressed by Frank Cienski about giving a retention agreement to the law firm of Lamb & Barnosky when the contracts are not negotiated every year, but it was explained that other contracts do come up and the law firm must be on hand to oversee them.”

The board then voted to adjourn.