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Mar 20, 2013 11:06 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Parents Support Gina Kraus At Packed East Hampton School Board Meeting

Mar 26, 2013 12:52 PM

Parents passionately defended the record of John Marshall Elementary School Principal Gina Kraus at a packed East Hampton School Board meeting last Tuesday in hopes of swaying the board and Superintendent Richard Burns to reconsider granting her tenure.

Nearly 100 people attended the meeting in the East Hampton High School Library, and about 20 people spoke out on behalf of Ms. Kraus, who was in the audience.

Many of the speakers became emotional, their voices breaking, as they defended the principal. Parents mobilized earlier this month after they said they learned Mr. Burns had decided to not recommend Ms. Kraus for tenure. Mr. Burns has not confirmed whether or not he made a negative recommendation.

Mr. Burns offered his own comments on the matter, but did not mention Ms. Kraus by name in them.

“I am aware that changes throughout our system are challenging to dedicated, talented and hard-working people within their comfort zone,” Mr. Burns said, reading from a prepared statement. “It is our mission to enable our educators to know more about what they are doing, rather than just doing what they know. We, in East Hampton, will improve our performance.”

He also commented on the district’s need to improve communications with the community. “We need to let you know, earlier and more often, what we are doing, what steps we are taking, on behalf of our students, parents and taxpayers,” he said. “I am working on ways to communicate better.”

Still, confusion, shock, hurt and sometimes anger colored the tone of speakers’s comments. Many offered glowing praise of Ms. Kraus, using words like “fantastic,” “extremely intelligent” a “dynamite person” and an “inspiration” to describe her leadership style. Applause punctuated the end of each speaker’s comments.

Kim Jones, a parent of two sons in the elementary school, said she herself is a “product” of the East Hampton School District. Although she said she has not known Ms. Kraus for a very long time, the principal has left an impression on her.

“I can see that she cares because,” her voice broke, “on the day my sons went to Special Olympics bowling, she was there.” she said. “She was cheering on every student that was in there. And that’s what we need.”

She also said there’s “too much of a turnover” at the district, and recent changes in staff haven’t gone unnoticed by students.

“If my fourth- and third-graders are talking about who’s not going to be there next year, instead of saying ‘how was that math test?’ something’s wrong,” said Ms. Jones.

Another parent, Pat Matos, spoke to Ms. Kraus’s lasting impression on students. She said she’s the mother to grown men who still remember Ms. Kraus’s “heartfelt” gestures.

“Gina is part of a dying breed of teachers who have taught these children from first grade on,” she said.

Jim Brooks, who used to be a Riverhead School District teacher, said he’s “lost respect for the superintendent and there are many in the district who believe that he cannot be trusted.”

“Rich, I believe that when you look back at this decision, that you will look at it as the worst decision you have ever made in your education career, by not granting Gina Kraus tenure,” he said.

Chris Tracey, former John Marshall Elementary School Principal who worked alongside Ms. Kraus, spoke highly of his former colleague. Mr. Tracey retired in 2011, at which point Ms. Kraus, who was then assistant principal, took over. Ms. Kraus has more than 20 years of teaching experience, with most of them in East Hampton at the elementary level. She also has more than 10 years of experience training teachers with the Northeast Foundation for Children.

“When I first heard the news of the superintendent’s decision of denying tenure to Gina, I got a sickening knot in my stomach and since, it has weighed heavily on my heart, as I feel an injustice is being done to a school I love, and an administrator who I came to love and respect like a sister,” Mr. Tracey said.

Mr. Tracey continued to commend Ms. Kraus’s work. “Gina is one of the most student-centered administrators, adults, period, that I have worked with,” he said. “She has a tremendous knowledge of curriculum and as said before, developmentally appropriate instruction.”

The School Board told the audience they will know at the board’s April 2 meeting what the final decision on Ms. Kraus’s status is.

After the meeting, Ms. Kraus, who was being hugged and greeted by well-wishers, would only say, “I’m just very grateful for all the support.”

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Like most of the school jobs out here, Mr. Burnss probably want to hire a family member, as in all the districts out here ITS NOT WHAT YOU KNOW BUT WHO YOU KNOW!! espically in SAG HARBOR DISTRICT!! GOOD LUCK MS. KRAUS !
By J. Totta (92), Sag Harbor on Mar 20, 13 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thats Correct hire a freind or family member thats how this board hasbeen doing things! Trust is broken! As far as communicating with the community and tax payers YOU DARN RIGHT YOU BETTER NO MORE BACK ROOM POLITICS!!! You have a person here who has student and parent support WHATS THE MATTER MR. BURNS YOU CAN NOT SEE THIS!! I BETTER STOP!
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 20, 13 2:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
There's more to a decision than that! Seriously. Rich is an extremely fair and trustworthy person. He cannot be held hostage to information that is not up for public debate. For other Superintendents and administrators to not acknowledge that he cannot disclose anything publicly yet tell him his decision is the worst he's ever made is irresponsible and ignorant.
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 20, 13 4:08 PM
And, Kraus certainly does deserve accolades for her 20 years of teaching dedication and service, there's no doubt. And for that she should be highly commended. But according to this article, less than 100 showed up, many of whom were administrators, staff - from a school of over 600 students which would constitute at least upwards of 1000 parents - to support her tenure is underwhelming to say the least!
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 20, 13 4:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
I have been to many board meetings and if you don't think more than a 100 people attending isn't impressive, then I would like to know which Board Meetings you have attended, because there are usually 10 people in the audience. The only other one that gets a strong turn out is the budget one.
By julie1234 (5), East Hampton on Mar 20, 13 9:29 PM
Perhaps it would have been MORE impressive if MORE parents who currently have children in the school and have experienced her first-hand as the current administrator were on hand to support her.
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 21, 13 7:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Did You Take Roll Call On Everyone There!
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 21, 13 8:55 PM
What if she is a great teacher but a mediocre administrator?
By harbor (332), East Hampton on Mar 20, 13 10:04 PM
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 20, 13 11:36 PM
Nope. Have kids in the school. No family or friends in administration. Grew up here, went to JMMES.
Frankly, I actually think this School Board is one of the better ones. There aren't any currently on the Board trying to get a family member a job as in the past School Board members.

PS: What is the relevance of a tax bill in this? Will my taxes go down if Kraus gets tenure?
PSS: I before e, except after c:)
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 21, 13 6:41 PM
I respect your opinion! You are allowed one as I am By the way one board member has already had two of their friends hired in district. No your taxes will not go down but go to a board meeting and ask a question to the person we tax payers pay maybe since you no him as Rich he will answer you. Mr Burns does not communicate with the tax payers very well. When an average of 10 people go to meetings then 100 show up for a reason that is ten times the regular amount. That is saying something! In my ...more
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 21, 13 8:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Burns has stated on many occasions that it is time to end the revolving door of principal's at our school. 3 principal's in 3 years at the Middle School, now it will be 3 principal in 3 years at JMMES. He needs to let the people of the community know ahead of time if he plans on putting one of our current administrators in the position or if he will be bringing someone from the outside in to run our school. We should have the opportunity to make our voices heard prior to a final decision. Transparency ...more
By julie1234 (5), East Hampton on Mar 21, 13 9:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why didn't anyone say anything about Chris Tracey coming in for what is essentially 5 months and then exits in retirement? That was the time to speak up. Perhaps a candidates long term goals should be considered prior to putting them in the position. Transparency is one thing, but reasons behind a decision to grant someone tenure or any position is not for public debate. Public input for consideration only, perhaps, as in the support shown for Mrs. Kraus. Slighted comments directed at Superintendent ...more
Apr 23, 13 9:57 AM appended by BeachyKeen
15, not 5.
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 22, 13 9:57 AM
If someone's "friend" has the qualifications needed for the job, why shouldn't they be considered and or hired? Everyone in that school is somebody's friend or relative sans a few newer and younger teachers. Are the teachers that are not locals' performance any better or less than those whom are insiders? No. Take Mr. Malsky for instance, he is not from "here" and he is an exceptional example of an excellent administrator and is phenomenal with the kids. Why are so many threatened by these outsiders ...more
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 22, 13 10:08 AM
2 members liked this comment
All Sounds good! You must be on the board! Was the applicants taken into consideration numerically or by who you no! My application has been in that school for 5 years now,renewed every six months, for at least 15 different positions. My qualifications exceed many that have been hired as a matter fact some of the jobs that were filled " many by FREINDS of the BOARD" I have two times the time doing the same job! As far as where anyone comes from WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 22, 13 10:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
In all fairness, Burns has not yet been Superintendent for more than a year having served first as interim Supe upon Gualtieri's resignation. It seems he can hardly be held responsible for your situation.
By ebbandflow (2), east hampton on Mar 23, 13 5:31 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 23, 13 8:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who says it is a teaching job! I never had to pass an English test to get a job ! Have you?
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 23, 13 8:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
Cx: it was 15 months (1 1/2 years) not 5
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 23, 13 8:20 AM
I seem overly excitable! That's not always a good attribute at a school! Notice my overuse of exclamation points!
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 23, 13 8:45 AM
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 23, 13 6:37 AM
Well, frankly, considering the huge grudge your holding and chip you seem to have on your shoulder.. attitude towards the school and its administrators in general I hope that you remain on that unhired waiting list indefinitely for WHATEVER position it is you are seeking for the sake of all kids that go there as well as whomever you might be working with.
Good luck!
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 23, 13 8:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks for the luck. By the way I do work for the EHUFSD already. How does a grudge or chip on someones shoulder have anything to do with children or co workers? Are you saying I bring this around Co workers and people around me?I respect your opinion why do you want to character assasssinate me?You Are One Sided!
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 24, 13 6:34 AM
Have you referred to your posts on this story? Are you not the same person who has complained over and over and over again? Yes, I am saying precisely that.
Now, I am REALLY frightened! Good thing we have a few days off... time for you to cool off from all of this before you head back to the hallways, the closet, or to whichever department of our district you are employed. From the look of this last comment, calmly stated with no cap lock on, and only one exclamation point you are on your ...more
By BeachyKeen (10), East Hampton on Mar 24, 13 11:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
BeachyKeen Went to my anger management class now all better. The School board and Superintendent are still crappy in my opinion. Smiley face. They have done more mismanagement and favortiisam Than Bernie Madoff in my opinion. The public should have at least there Concerns heard. Smiley Face. Sorry maybe you do not care how your tax dollars are wasted but I do. Smiley face.
By watchdog785 (37), southampton on Mar 26, 13 8:43 PM
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