A resolution put before the Massapequa Board of Education to set up a sensitivity training program for health and special education teachers failed to pass at Thursday's school board meeting.
But it may be given a second life at the next board meeting.
The program, which is designed to assist the teachers deal with student issues including those related to gender and sexual orientation, would be sponsored by the Bellmore-based, Long Island Crisis Center.
A letter posted on the Board Meeting's website, from Pride for Youth, an organization started by Long Island Crisis Center requests $100 payment for a workshop titled, "Making Schools Safer for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth."
Massapequa Assistant to the Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Thomas Fasano, said Long Island Crisis Center was invited to present a program to psychologists and social workers in the district two years ago.
"It was so effective, so well received, that we were asked to bring it back," he said.
But it had to be approved by the board, which rarely fails to pass motions they put on the agenda.
The failure to reach the needed three votes to pass came after the sudden departure from the meeting of Board President Maryanne Fisher.
Fisher was called away about 45 minutes into the meeting by a family meeting.
Board Vice President Tim Taylor took over the proceedings and the votes were taken with only four of the five members present.
All the other resolutions on the agenda passed with the required three votes, but Taylor voted against approving the sensitivity training while Trustee Joseph LaBella abstained. Board secretary Jane Ryan and Trustee Gary Bennett voted to approve the resolution, and members seemed somewhat stunned when the school district's counsel told them the resolution failed.
The workshop was scheduled for early December and it could still happen if the board puts the reolution back on the agenda for their Nov. 15 meeting, where Fisher's vote could pass it.
But the failure to pass it drew angry words, from former Board President Christine Lupetin Perrino, who spoke during the public question session at the end of the meeting.
"This is an embarassment," she told the Board. "You know what? The Board of Education needs some sensitivity training. You have no idea how difficult is for kids today."
Perrino finished by saying, "You should be embarrassed that you're failing our children."
Taylor shot back, " I'm not failing our children," while Perrino countered saying, "It's an embarrassment, you should be ashamed of yourself."
After the meeting Taylor explained his vote saying, "We have in place a code of conduct that covers everything," explaining that any issues involving bullying is covered by the code.
"I saw some stuff [related to the resolution] I was kind of concerned with," Taylor added, saying he would not go into specific detail.
LaBella said "I abstained because of my religious beliefs," describing himself as a Christian, not affiliated with a particular denomination. "I read the Bible and I have a relationship with God," he said.
"I didn't want to impact the vote either way, so I didn't vote for it and I didn't vote against it." Both Taylor and LaBella said they voted with their conscience.
Ryan said she voted for the resolution "because I think it's important to have all children to be treated equally and to be in a school with the support of teachers, students and all peers regardless of their race religion and sexual preference."
Bennett explained his vote in favor of the program saying, "FOr $100 why not have sensitivity training?" Regarding LGBT students, he said, "not being in that situation, I can't relate, but I can sympathise." Bennett said he believed the training can prevent hurtful comments directed at students.