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Audio and press reports from special Hudson school board meeting Monday

Nov 30, 2010 2:41 am
WGXC's Joan Geitz and Alan Skerrett attended the special Hudson board meeting Monday, and made an mp3 recording you can listen to by clicking here. Or copy and paste the following url into your computer's media player:

Press reports from meeting:
From WTEN:
"If two principals can't get along, how are students supposed to get along? That's the question many parents and staff members asked Monday night at an emergency school board meeting for the Hudson City School District. Last week, high school co-principals Thomas Gavin and Steven Spicer got into an argument during a school board meeting. Most staff and parents and administration want to put last week's fight in the past and shift the focus back to the students, where it belongs. 'At some point, it needs to become confidential. That's what we tell our students: keep your personal issues out of the building,' said a teacher at the high school. Steven Spicer sat quietly during the emergency meeting. He was able to keep his position as principal, while Gavin now will work in a district office. Superintendent John Howe briefly touched on the topic, but told the crowd he'd deal with 'personnel issues' behind closed doors. The public comment portion of the meeting focused on another huge concern -- the 13 fights in the high school this year. 'The parents in this school district, need to get off their rump and take a little responsibility and try helping and guiding their children,' said Robert Rockler, the high school safety officer. Possible ways to combat fighting and bullying in the schools were outlined, including peer mediation, instituting a re-entry plan for suspended students, the use of behavior contracts and improving and building community and parental support. Superintendent Howe started off the meeting saying if talk could solve all these problems, there wouldn't be any. He's hoping to implement some of the suggestions that everyone talked about and have an update at the next meeting, scheduled for December 13."

From Unmuffled:
"Packed house at JLE five minutes before meeting set to begin. Four of seven board members present."

From Carole Osterink in The Gossips of Rivertown:
"How many ways can our small city be divided? There's 'old Hudson' and the newcomers. There's the south side and the north side. There's black and white. There are the perceived 'rich' and the poor and working class. But tonight at the special meeting of the Board of Education, two new ways to divide us emerged. On the one hand, there are those who think Steven Spicer is a gentle and humane leader and should be the principal of the high school; on the other, those who think Tom Gavin is fair and well-respected and should be the principal of the high school. And then there are those who believe, like Bill Hallenbeck who is one, that the fact that HCSD is the only school district in Columbia County with 'safety officers' (retired law enforcement officers who seem to be a combination of truant officer, EMT, and riot police) is something to be proud of, and those who think, as Alan Skerrett does, that 'if we're the only school district in Columbia County with safety officers, there's something wrong.' Which side are you on?"

Andrew Amelinckx in Register-Star reports:
"As of Monday, Spicer remains the high school’s principal for instruction, while Antonio Abitabile, the Junior High assistant principal, is acting associate principal, with Gavin working in the District Office, according to Howe. Gavin’s duties, said Howe, are commiserate with his tenure area and experience, that is, 'in the discipline area.' Howe went on to say that they were 'evaluating his status daily.' On several occasions during Monday’s meeting partisan feelings concerning the co-principals rose to the surface, with one Hudson High School student presenting the board with a petition to bring Gavin back to the high school.... At one point during the meeting Board president Emil Meister cut board member Peter Meyer off. Meyer had been speaking about implementing a district task force to look at school violence. Meister told Meyer that the discussion was over and quipped about keeping a microphone out of Meyer’s hands. This was addressed by several people, including Kelly Frank who told the board she wasn’t surprised by the way the high school students acted based on the board members’ behavior. Another action by three board members also drew the public’s ire. After returning from executive session the board quickly voted to end the meeting. Meyer asked that they reconvene so they could discuss the creation of the task force, but Meister, Mary Daly and Elizabeth Fout instead left the building. Meyer then asked the remaining members to reconvene the meeting. Peter Merante and Peter Rice voted yes, but Jeff Otty voted no. All four members would have had to vote in the affirmative to reconvene. Instead the members stayed, as did Howe, to answer questions. 'They walked out on the community,' commented Kelly [Frank] of the three board members who left."

Read John Howe's message to students at unmuffled.
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