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Story - Education

Mar 31, 2010 11:27 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe officials respond to residents' challenge

Mar 31, 2010 11:27 AM

The attorney for the Tuckahoe School District and School Board Chairwoman Sharon Grindle submitted two legal briefs to the New York State Education Department last week rebutting a petition signed by 39 residents calling for the district’s conversion from a common to a union free school district.

Ms. Grindle and attorney Kevin Seaman claimed in their briefs that the petition deviated from the purpose of the law that allows residents to press the state to order a public referendum on a proposal to make their district a union free one—a move that not only would allow the district to expand its grades to the high school level but would allow for the School Board to be expanded from three members to as many as nine.

Ms. Grindle and Mr. Seaman argue that residents pushing the petition are doing so simply to overthrow the sitting School Board because of a specific decision—namely, the ouster of former Superintendent Linda Rozzi—a goal that does not meet the statute’s parameters. Ms. Grindle called the petition a “coup” attempt and said she has been harassed by “disgruntled residents” who signed the petition since voting against extending Ms. Rozzi’s contract last June, leading to her resignation.

“It is clear that, essentially, the petitioners in this matter seek to elect a new [school board] in order that their preferences regarding certain determinations of the present common School Board can be, at the least, revisited, if not overturned,” Ms. Grindle’s brief reads.

In her brief, Ms. Grindle also revealed that current School Board member Susan Riccardi does not intend to seek reelection to a second term on the Tuckahoe School Board this spring. Ms. Riccardi’s term will expire in June. She could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Grindle’s submission to the state, which is on file with the Tuckahoe School’s clerk, was accompanied by articles from The Southampton Press and a comment posted on the 27east.com website by Anthony Grimaldi, the husband of former school board member Theresa Grimaldi, which blasted “chronic complainers” for challenging the board on its decision.

She also said in the brief that the board is seeking new leadership in the superintendent’s office because of “great concerns” about the way curriculum was being implemented.

The third School Board member, Robert Grisnik, said this week that he was not aware of Ms. Grindle’s rebuttal to the petition: “It was not a board decision in any way.”

MICHAEL WRIGHT

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