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In reading the May 17 Port News, I must say that I am thoroughly embarrassed. What has begun as a dispute between two grown adults has deteriorated into front-page headlines and a black eye for the school district. The issues here are both complex and simple. Complex in terms of the education law and simple in terms that I have asked for a binding, independent and non-biased review by the commissioner of education, as opposed to Mr. Sussman's attempts to force a kangaroo court of judgment.

Let me be more specific: Mr. Sussman believes that he can use a loophole in the education law to publicly embarrass me by holding a mock trial whereby he would be able to preside as both judge and jury in a removal proceeding. Richard even boasted that the board will erect a statue of him in front of Schreiber if he is successful. Apparently, this is all in retribution for the disclosure of his disgusting comments about the Columbine tragedy, which he now terms as just a "joke." Mr. Sussman has proposed (in writing) that a private law firm, which currently represents him, would also serve as an "independent" counsel to the district to investigate this malarkey at the rate of $225 per hour to the taxpayers. Mr. Sussman may believe that he has three other votes on the board who will rubber-stamp his nonsense, but I have more confidence in my fellow trustees that they have had enough.

A short review of Mr. Sussman's tactics reveals many and frequent requests to restrict the ability of those with opposing points of view to freely speak their minds - whether it is our own school personnel or his ill-fated attempts to restrict public comments at board meetings. Let's also not forget his support for the banning of books, which he has not even read; and his constant threats of having anyone arrested who dares to speak up against him at a school board meeting. Having rethought the events of the past few weeks in perspective of my first two years on the board, I would tend to admit that I did not choose the best mentor in my freshman years of service. In hindsight, judging from where we have ended up now, I certainly would have voted differently on some major issues.

On behalf of myself, I certainly apologize to the community, my friends, my neighbors and my family for subjecting them to front-page headlines. Unlike Mr. Sussman, I do not believe in using the police department or the courts like a pawn in a calculated chess match of intimidation or litigation. I simply want the commissioner of education to hear my appeal as is my right (or anyone else's) in a fair and unbiased setting based upon its merits and free from any of the harassment by Mr. Sussman or any other member of the board who may disagree.

Jon Zimmerman


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