along with the three assistant superintendents, remained behind as the
four members of the public were asked to leave the room. Your reporter
asked if the newly elected and absent Board members, Cattano and Raab,
were invited to the meeting. The question was ignored. When Board member
Grover was asked directly, he answered with his typical grin. It was not
clear whether Cattano and Raab knew of the meeting.
About ten minutes later, Ann Scricca, a
member of the Boardís renegade legal team, arrived at the meeting and
stormed into the closed executive session. Five minutes later, the
district clerk, Mary Bediako, came out of the Board room and told the
members of the public, now camped out on the chairs in the administration
building hallway, to move into the conference room down the hall, saying,
"I turned on the air conditioning, you can go sit in there." It
appeared that while it is impossible to hear through the walls of the
building, someone wanted the members of the public squirreled away out of
When Freeport resident and former
Principal of the Atkinson School, Jan Wilson, looked at Bediako and
explained that she was sitting in a public hallway and she wasnít
moving, Bediako went back into the Board room. Wilson continued to sit in
the hall, along with Kevin Barry and Carol Nelson.
At 10:43 p.m., the boardroom door opened.
I was unclear whether one of the attendees was going to the bathroom or
they were just getting a little fresh air. After a few moments, when
nobody came out, the members of the public got up and went into the
boardroom. Your reporter was first through the door, followed by resident
Carol Nelson. Kevin Barry and Wilson remained at the boardroom entrance.
NYS law and the Commissioner of Education
requires that "all action taken by board must be in open
session...," unless otherwise required by statute. NYS Education Law
requires that charges preferred against a teacher must be brought in
executive session. If a vote is taken in executive session, the law
mandates that the resolution and the vote must be made public within one
week from the date of the executive session. There is nothing in any
American law that mandates lawful votes by a school board to be kept
secret for any amount of time or that the resolution and vote cannot be
discussed at any time.
It was a nasty scene as the public
reentered the boardroom. The attendees were packing up their papers. Your
reporter, addressed Board member Coward, who was walking toward to door,
with her head down, "Is this adjourned?" Coward didnít look
up. Board member Grover responded, "Theyíre adjourned."
Your reporter then asked the school
districtís attorney, Ann Scricca, "Donít school board meetings
have to be adjourned in public, counsel?" Scricca ignored the
question. A chorus of the board replied, "We opened the door."
With Renken stating, " We opened the door and we saw you there."
Your reporter responded, "You opened the door and then you adjourned,
before we got back in."
Board President Ellerbe said, "Go
home. Get a life."
When your reporter asked, "Was there
any action at this meeting tonight?" Somebody answered,
"No." Not seeing who it was, your reporter asked Scricca,
"Was there any action at this meeting, counselor, or did you just
adjourn? Did you guys vote on anything?" Scricca answered, "Just
Your reporter then asked Board member and
past Board President Al Renken, "Was there any action?" Renken
The following day, a veteran staff member
with thirty-two years of service in the district was served with papers
which said in substance: Please be advised that the Freeport School
District Board of Education, meeting in executive session on June 12,
2001, has found that there is probable cause for the following charge
against you. Please see attached.
It was clear. The Board did indeed, vote.
Like most everything the mendacious Renken-Grover board has done during
their six year tenure, their last acts were also surrounded by a shroud of
suspicion and the cover of darkness.