The Massapequa School District is gearing up for a legal confrontation with New York State.
The Board revealed that they are challenging the requirements of the NYS Education Department and the NY Commissioner of Education in regards to the Annual Professional Performance Review of Teachers and Principals (APPR), and are authorizing their attorneys to commence legal action in a cooperative effort with other New York educational institutions.
The district's lawyer, Richard J. Guercio, addressed the board on the nature of the suit.
“What is happening is that the Commissioner added a requirement to the Professional Performance Review that Unions must agree to the entire APPR plan as a prerequisite for the Commissioner approving the plan,” he said. “It’s our position that, first, the law does not require that, and second, by adding that requirement, it’s interfered with the District’s ability to have the APPR approved in a timely fashion.”
Such a delay could prove costly for the students of the school districts affected by this issue, Guercio said.
“If the Commissioner does not approve the plan by the deadline, the District could lose its increases in state aid,” he said. “Therefore, in an informal act, the Commissioner has placed school districts in a very bad position. Therefore we much have a court declare that void and beyond his authority.”
The other educational institutions involved in the lawsuit were not named.
A recap of Massapequa’s Science Research Program was given by Dr. Thomas Fasano, Assistant to the Superintendent. The presentation covered preliminary work with both students and parents, equipment purchases for research, goals and initiatives, highlights and accomplishments, and the program’s upcoming goals for the 2012-2013 school year.
The school’s first ever Science Research Symposium, held the night before, was also discussed. An event to highlight the hard work and dedication both seniors, underclassmen, and even students scientific achievements, Fasano praised all those involved in making the Symposium a total success.
“When high expectations are laid out, our students will achieve,” he said. “Our students were hungry, and they took to the expectations.”
The District’s new Code of Conduct was also addressed, which incorporates aspects of the new state-mandated Dignity Act legislation to protect students from bullying and discrimination.
“We’ve had our character education program in place a dozen years ago, if not more,” said Superintendent Charles Sulc. “The focus of that programs is to deal with those kinds of things that are just coming to the attention of the public now by virtue of this legislation. So, much of what’s in the Dignity Act is something that we’ve had, and that we’re continuing to work on.”
The appointment of two new staff members at Berner Middle School were also announced; effective July 1, Deja Berry will be the school’s new Executive Assistant, and Joseph DiTroia will be the new Dean of Students.
Lastly, the termination of a number of redundant security aides was approved. Sulc was quick to point out that none of the aides let go were actively working for the District, and that there are no cuts being made to the District’s security program.
The next meeting of the Massapeuqa Board of Education is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, at 8 p.m.