Winter 2012 Newsletter 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About SCREA

Executive Board

Membership and 2012 Dues

Recent Updates

 

What Do Teachers Make?

 

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,
"What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in
life was to become a teacher?"
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You were a teacher,
Jim. Be honest. What did you make?"

Jim, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
"You want to know what I make? (He paused for a second, then
began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ student feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make
them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to
know what I make?"

I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't
everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they
need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because
we live in the United States of America.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they
were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

Jim paused and then continued.
"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me
knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay
no attention because they are ignorant....
You want to know what I make?
I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
What do you make Mr. CEO?"


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters to the Editor

March 22, 2012

Rebuttal to lynch mob behavior

Sheryl Moodt’s recent letter to the
editor was laughable in her description
of the community members asking
questions at South County School
Board meetings. She goes on about
“lynch mob” behavior and “Jerry
Springer ways.” How scary! I’ll be
sure to leave the lights on when I go
to bed tonight.
I believe that cronyism and nepotism
in our schools started with the
election to our BOE of her husband
Carl Moodt and his running mates,
Greg Miglino and Joe Cipp. This trio
voted to fire the then-superintendent
of schools (a person with a Ph.D. in
education). The board eventually
gave the superintendent position to
Joe Cipp (ex-football coach) whose
present salary is $272,000 a year.
Then Greg Miglino got a $61,200
“part time” position as the school’s
Building Services Administrator in
spite of the fact that Miglino was already
employed as head of the South
Country Ambulance Co. making
$97,000 a year. This act was so outrageous
that the creation of this job
and the appointment of Miglino to the
post has now been ruled illegal by the
courts.
The BOE is now considering cutting
teacher aide positions while wasteful
spending on high administration salaries
run rampant and our school taxes
go up over 3 percent a year. No wonder
our district’s schools have one of
the lowest ratings on Long Island.
The terms of three board members
are coming to an end. Board
members Lisa Grossman and Rob
Powell deserve our support for reelection
for having resisted many of
these shenanigans. Sadly, I can’t say
the same for incumbent Kevin Kirk.
We need new leadership to get our
schools back on course.
Larry Tierney
Brookhaven

Likes Advance coverage

It’s a good thing The Advance had
such excellent coverage of the school
board meeting held on March 7. Otherwise,
the only account would be the
tale told by Sheryl Moodt in her letter
of last week. From her rendering,
one would believe that both chairs and
fists were flying that evening by district
residents in “their Jerry Springer
ways!” Those who were present know
better, and thanks to The Advance’s
factual coverage, so do its readers.
One of the more outrageous events
at the past few board meetings was the
outburst by Vice-President of the BOE
Kevin Kirk. His hostility and verbal
attacks towards a woman who calmly
presented a petition on behalf of 119 district
residents was an embarrassment and totally
inappropriate for the holder of this
important post.
Leslie O’Connor
Bellport

Another rebuttal
Perhaps Mrs. Moodt should have mentioned that her family
has been “triple-dipping” in the South Country School
District. Her husband served on the school board and was
given a job in “district security” upon leaving this position.
In addition, her son and daughter were both awarded teaching
positions in the same district.
David K. Winslow
Brookhaven

March 15, 2012

Personal observations from a South Country
community member

Our district has internal problems
that it is in the process of working
through. There is a small band of community
members who, in my opinion,
have overshadowed the district issues
with their own agenda in attempting to
bring negative focus to the district in a
way that is hateful and vicious.
At meetings, they sit and orchestrate
“questions” that put our district
in the worst possible light they can manipulate.
They speak and circle around
their points, using up the four minutes
allowed, and finally get to a “gotcha”
moment. They pass around papers to
each other and across the table to a
school board member who is aligned
with them. They move about, crouch
down and pat speakers who have left
the podium. They yell, jeer and have
outbursts that bring in security to remove
them from the meeting. They
threaten to defeat the budget. They
seem to move about in a comfortable
manner because nobody calls them on
their “Jerry Springer” ways. Their collective
behavior reminds me of a lynch
mob. There is a portion of this community
that really wants this tornado to
peter out. Hopefully it will self destruct
and allow the business that the district
needs to attend to and move forward
with, get on with it!
A final note: Lisa Grossman, the
school board member who printed an
open letter in the Advance recently,
wrote then about a great book on leadership
she tried to emulate and gave it
to all board members. I think she needs
to reread her book.
Sheryl Moodt
Bellport

Questions legal fees
In addition to the other problems
facing the South Country school board,
it now appears that we also have a
budget problem. Since cuts have to be
made, I suggest we consider cutting
the $650,000 budget proposed for legal
costs.
Presently, we have a law firm that
is paid a flat $49,500 to provide legal
advice to the board and attend board
meetings, and an additional $33,550
for negotiations. Since the combined
services cost the district $83,050, why
have we paid over $550,000 in legal
costs for 2011 and budgeted over
$650,000 for 2012?
The explanation is that for any and
all other legal services provided by the
law firm, including litigation or advice
on litigation, they get paid an additional
$245 an hour. This seems to me to be
a system that encourages unnecessary
litigation and undue expense to the
district. Perhaps it is time for the district
to consider a method of payment
which does not encourage such excessive
and unnecessary litigation.
Regina Seltzer
Bellport

No community without unity
Is turning a blind eye to the occasional
bit of academic dishonesty a
small price to pay for a vital athletic
program or to preserve the legacy of
a great man — especially if that dishonesty
does not rise to the level of an
actual crime? Or should fairness and
honesty be unwavering standards for
people in public positions?
The last South Country school board
meeting was marked by a greatly increased
level of civility, and a palpable
feeling that former deep divisions within
the community could be healed. If
the chief remaining cause of friction in
the community is based on differences
of opinion on this issue, I am sure this
healing is within reach. Differences
may not be resolved, but well-meaning
people should be able to openly debate
this issue without rancor.
Lawrence T. Hoff
East Patchogue

Response to SC trustee charges
I have lived and worked in this community for over
40 years. During that time I have tried to establish a
reputation of professionalism, both as a teacher and a
board member.
I cannot begin to tell you how shocked and appalled I
am at a recent Newsday article whereby board members
Lisa Grossman, Jeannette Mistler, and Rob Powell
asked for my resignation for failing to reveal the initial
allegations about grade changing to the entire board. I
completely deny this. The entire board learned of the
charges on the very same day I did.
This scurrilous attack on my character is mean-spirited,
irresponsible and unethical. These people brought none
of their concerns to me personally. Nor did they even
send me their so-called “resignation letter.” Instead,
they formed a kangaroo court and secretly went to the
press with their damning and false charges. And,
indoing so, broke the board’s ethics policy.
This shameless attempt to malign me
speaks volumes about their character, or
lack thereof.
Kevin Kirk, vice president
South Country Board of Education
 

A Bellport High School alum appeals
Dear Mr. Kirk and the Board of
Education:
Although many of us have long graduated
and moved away from where we grew up,
we have remained interested in what is
happening back home. Some of us have
returned home and are raising children
of our own, who will be following in our
footsteps. We collectively want one thing:
for the integrity and quality of our public
school system to remain intact, if not
improve.
We know of the transgressions of the
Building Services Administrator. We know
that seeking an appeal on his behalf would
waste precious taxpayer resources, drain
morale and diminish our community’s faith
in the idea that the people they vote into
positions of power will do what is right,
even if it is difficult.
We believe that you can take this
opportunity to put an end to the shameful
degradation of our education system and
reinstate the pride that we all felt in the
quality of our schools. We hope that we
can rely on all of you because we know
that not only can you weigh the odds, but
you are also strong enough to push them
in our favor.
 

Sincerely,
Meghan Mullaney, BHS 1999, Neurophysiologist, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Sean Pilger, BHS 1998, Organic Farmer, Brookhaven
Adam Roe, BHS 1992, Producer, New York, N.Y.
Kai Bartlette, BHS 1998, Police Officer, Queens, N.Y.
Matthew Gelfer, BHS 2001, Public School Music Teacher, Brookhaven
Brian Wasser, BHS 2001, Medical Student, Brookhaven
Natalie Thompson, BHS 1999, Multimedia Art Director, TIME magazine,    New York,N.Y.
Kristen Drury, BHS 2001, Public School Chemistry Teacher,
resident of Bellport
Maureen Gundlach, BHS 2001, Choreographer, former Mechanical
Engineer, New York, N.Y.
Christian Budiarjo, BHS 2001, Engineer, Bellport
Carrie Desmond Paulsen, BHS 1989, Public School Teacher in Bayport,
resident of Bellport
This letter was forwarded by Meghan Mullaney

Regarding Judge Baisley decision and
South Country

The “emoluments clause” in Article 1,
section 6 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly
prohibits any member of Congress from
being appointed to any civil office created
while serving in Congress, or even a civil
office whose emoluments (salary) was
increased while serving in Congress.
The purpose of this clause is to prevent
Congress from conspiring to create offices
or to increase federal officials’ salaries
with the expectation members of Congress
would later be appointed to these posts.
Even 200 years ago, it was easy to see that
such a practice could lead to corruption.
For that reason, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton has the lowest salary of any cabinet
member, lower even than her predecessor
Condoleezza Rice. Mrs. Clinton was serving
as a senator when cabinet-level salaries
were raised by $4,700/year. Her salary was
decreased to prevent her from benefiting
from her actions as senator.
If you believe that school boards should
be held to at least the ethical standards of
Congress, please contact the South Country
School Board and ask that the board not
appeal the Judge Baisley decision. (See
http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/fcas/
fcas_docs/2012feb/51002913120103sciv.
pdf).
That decision does not even go as far
as the “emoluments clause.” It does not
prevent a school board member from
benefiting from a position created while
serving on the board. It merely holds
as improper the sort of secret and selfserving
machinations that guaranteed that
a particular school board member, who
would normally not be considered due to
comparatively low performance, would
be the immediate and sole beneficiary of
a newly created position. This standard is
so much lower than the standard set for
Congress that it seems unconscionable to
oppose it using public funds.
Lawrence T. Hoff
East Patchogue

Be careful what you ask for
In 1976, I began my affiliation with
Bellport football and Coach Joe Cipp
as the equipment manager of his
fledgling junior varsity team. The
following year I played on the JV
team, and spent two years after that
as a varsity player. I graduated from
Bellport High School in 1979, from
Hartwick College in 1983 and then
enlisted in U.S. Army, serving 22 years
and retiring as a lieutenant colonel. I
am now the presidential professor of
law at South Texas College of Law in
Houston. The last time I spoke with
Joe Cipp was in 2000 when he called
the hospital room in Williamsburg,
Virginia during my father’s last days
of life to express his support for me,
my brothers who also played for him,
and my mom. Before that, I probably
had not seen him since 1983. Until
last Saturday.
In Brooklyn to give a law school
lecture, I decided to make a pilgrimage
to my old hometown to visit my older
brother and several old friends I had
not seen for decades, including one
who made me vaguely aware of the
attacks directed at Joe recently. I
went to see him last Saturday.
As I sat in his self-designated
“gathering room,” I tried to absorb the
abundant awards and mementos that
covered his walls and cabinets. I told
him, ‘Coach, I have a vague memory
that during the first few years of your
tenure as football coach you came
under attack by the school board.
And I remember my father was on
the board, and his resolute support
for you. I keep thinking that 35 years
ago he probably sat right where I am,
encouraging you to stay the course
and to stand on your record of total
devotion to developing your players.’
He paused and responded, “Yup, I
remember that, and he did sit here
with me having discussions just like
that.”
After I drove away I couldn’t help
but be struck by three thoughts. First,
that Joe Cipp lives in the same house
after achieving so much success
reflects his devotion to his program,
community and students. Second, how that devotion has
produced positive and often life-altering development in
so many hundreds of students who have been touched by
his programs. And finally, that Joe Cipp is once again in
the crosshairs of his critics. My last thought: The South
Country School District should be very careful what they
ask for, because they just might get it.
George Corn, professor of law
South Texas College of Law
 

Regarding South Country alleged grade-changing
How much more must the residents
of the South Country School District
take? We are now over two months
into the investigation of the alleged
grade-changing scandal of a standout
football player. This is all being done at
a great deal of expense to the taxpayers,
considering the investigator is being
paid $230 per hour and her associate is
being paid $150 per hour. This scandal
is going to cost the taxpayers tens of
thousands of dollars for absolutely no
reason at all! If the administrators who
caused this scandal would show the
integrity that is expected of leaders, we
would be spared further expense and
eliminate the enormous distraction that
this is causing the students and faculty.
The article published in the New York
Post earlier this month confirms that
the grades were indeed changed based
on the leaked investigator’s report.
Yet there has been no action from
the Board of Education. They wish
to have us believe that this report is
preliminary. The majority of the BOE
continues to deflect the attention of
this report’s findings on to the unknown
person who leaked this documentation.
This should outrage everyone living in
this community. The majority of the
BOE has created an environment that
is detrimental to the education of our
children by allowing the influence
of those whose sole purpose is to
continue their reign of power. I urge all
residents of South Country to find out
for themselves how the majority of the
BOE is conducting business. Please
consider attending BOE meetings
and voice your opinions to the BOE
members.
Chris Picini
East Patchogue

Why the South Country School Board should not
appeal Judge Baisley’s decision

In the Baisley decision, the Court
held that the hiring of Miglino was
illegal and null and void from its inception.
New York State Education Law
prohibits any school board member
from being an employee of his/her district.
The purpose of the law is to
prevent members of the school board
from misusing their authority to benefit
themselves at the expense of the
taxpayers. This is substantive, not
procedural, law.
Here, Judge Baisley, after reviewing
all the evidence, concluded that
the board conspired with Mr. Miglino,
then president of the board, to violate
the education law and therefore, on
its face, the creation of the position
and hiring of Miglino was illegal, null
and void. In addition, to the substantive
violations of the law cited in
the decision, the Court also concluded
that there were procedural violations.
While the procedural violations may
be corrected by starting all over again,
the substantive violations of the law
can not. Moreover, while our original
lawsuit was filed against the school
board as an entity, there would be nothing
to prevent district taxpayers from
filing lawsuits against each individual
school board member and seeking
reimbursement from them for monies
unlawfully spent. Those members of
the school board who conspired with
Miglino have personal liability and are
not protected by the immunity given to
the school board as an entity.
Since there are no valid grounds for
an appeal and Judge Baisley’s decision
did not impose any costs or other obligations
on the district, common sense
dictates that Judge Baisley’s decision
should not be appealed. Clearly, an
appeal will cost the district taxpayers
thousands of dollars and the only beneficiaries
will be the attorneys. Thus,
I respectfully ask that you accept the
Baisley decision, eliminate Miglino’s
position and proceed with the important
business of running our school
district.
Regina Seltzer
Bellport
Editor’s note: Ms. Seltzer is the Bellport
attorney for the lawsuit.

Has issues with South Country
They didn’t do the right thing! The
South Country School Board failed
to, at least, suspend Building Services
Administrator Greg Miglino and
Superintendent Joseph Cipp Jr. until
further investigations are allegedly
completed, and let the South Country
community heal.
The alleged changing of school grades
will have future graduates heavily
scrutinized by colleges and universities,
questioning the credibility and the merit
of those grades. Miglino should also
be suspended, but the majority of the
school board failed to suspend him; a
state Supreme Court decision claims his
position should be eliminated and that
the board violated the open meetings
law. The decision also states that
Miglino was the least qualified from his
ranking and “…would not have been
considered for the position without the
residency requirement Miglino himself
engineered.” He did so while he was
president of the school board.
Our home values are tied into the
success or failure of our school district,
and I reiterate that our community is
torn apart, and we need to heal. One
parent stated at last week’s school board
meeting that students are fighting about
this in the hallways; it has affected our
children on so many levels. I implore
the community to compel the school
board to do the right thing. We need
to heal and our children need not be
exposed to this any longer.
Joanne M. Long Merrill
East Patchogue

Open letter to the South Country School Board
Dear Board Members:
After attending last week’s South Country School Board
meeting of Feb.15, I would like you to consider the following
four comments:
(1) I honestly believe it is a poor reflection upon the
leadership of the board not to be able to hold a public
meeting on schedule. Delaying the public portion of such
an important and visible meeting is insulting to the attending
residents and a clear indication that no one is in control of
your executive session.
(2) A portion of the public session focused on the building
and grounds budget. This is a very complex subject which
summarizes much detailed information. From the comments
and questions I heard from board members, it appeared that
this may be the first and only opportunity for the board and
community to study and discuss this topic. In my opinion,
complex topics such as this and probably other educational
related topics would better be discussed in a public session
outside of the board meeting, such as a Saturday morning
workshop, for instance.
(3) As I look at some of the budget detail distributed with
the agenda for the meeting, I notice that we are paying a
security guard more per day than a substitute schoolteacher.
The obvious question is: If your product is education, how
do you justify such a pay disparity? This detail may be
symptomatic of a larger problem and missed priorities.
(4) Finally, a state Supreme Court justice has issued
a judgment that your hiring practice for the position in
question was illegal. In my experience, public organizations
do everything in their power to avoid even the appearance
of impropriety. If you divert funds from your mission of
education to appeal this decision or retain Mr. Miglino in his
position through some subversive administrative process,
you are simply defying the obvious will of the community
you serve. You must know that this community is organized
to ensure that such a decision will haunt any board member
who supports it.
Karl Rohrmeier
Bellport

The ADVANCE welcomes letters. We reserve the right to decide
whether a letter is acceptable for publication and to edit for accuracy,
clarity, and length. Letters deemed potentially libelous or
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not exceed 250 words. You can reach us by mail, or e-mail
at ADVletters@optonline.net.
Please include your full name, address, phone number, and/
or e-mail address. If we receive many letters on a given topic, we
will print a representative sample of the opinions expressed. On
occasion, we may run additional letters online.

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