The letter to the editor written by Steve Weber that Bill Motherway refers to can be seen on the Times of Smithtown. Click here to see the letter.
To the Editor:
I was extremely disturbed by the recent letter written by Steve Weber, a former member of the Kings Park Board of Education with whom I served for three years. I would like to address some of the specific points that Mr. Weber has raised as many are not only incorrect but seek to, again, disrupt our school district and community.
Mr. Weber’s libelous contentions about the recent response from the Commissioner of Education and the petition that was brought against Mrs. Barrett are very troubling. The facts of this matter, which are undisputable, are very clear. Our school district received a complaint from a community member containing accusations that confidential district information was being shared with people whom were not privy to hear it. The allegations included specific information relating to school district employees and, most serious, allegations that student confidentiality had been breached; a potential violation of Federal Law.
Upon the advice of our district's retained counsel, I personally attempted to contact Mrs. Barrett to discuss the complaint. Mrs. Barrett never responded to any of my requests and, instead, chose to retain a private criminal attorney to handle this matter on her behalf. Upon advice from the school district’s attorney, the Board of Education retained special counsel to investigate the basis of the allegations and make a recommendation to the Board of Education on how to handle this matter to ensure that our district was protected from any potential liability brought about by Mrs. Barrett’s alleged actions.
Special Counsel thoroughly investigated this matter and upon the conclusion of their investigation, recommended to the Board to refer this matter to the Commissioner of Education for his review, which we did. The Board of Education acted at all times on the advice of special counsel and to say this was a politically motivated move is a lie. I challenge anybody to point to one “politically motivated” action that I undertook during my six year tenure on the Board. And while the Commissioner chose to invalidate this petition based on procedural grounds, the fact remains that the merits were never considered and I still believe that Mrs. Barrett did indeed do what was alleged.
Mr. Weber actually does make one good point and that is the Board of Education should not provide a "rubber stamp" to administration. In fact, providing direction and constructive criticism to our Superintendent is one of the main responsibilities of the Board of Education. What a school board member should not do is use his position to make baseless accusations and agitate our community to promote, what I believe is, his own personal political agenda. While Mr. Weber would like you to believe his claims to have provided a "critical eye", his voting record just doesn’t back up his claim. In his three years on the Board of Education, Mr. Weber voted over 99% of the time with recommendations brought by the Superintendent of Schools including 100% of the resolutions that involved Individualized Education Plans for students with special needs.
The Board of Education has a responsibility to support and work with administration to advance the district's goals. There are times when there were disagreements, however, responsible board members work together to set direction and seek results. Having served with him for three years, I truly believe this is something Mr. Weber is incapable of doing. During his tenure
on the Board of Education, Mr. Weber consistently made statements against our District’s Superintendent, even after voting to extend her contract during his first year on the Board of Education.
Many of Mr. Weber's actions while on the Board of Education would be considered by many, questionable. While the Board of Education was engaged in budget discussions with the community last spring, Mr. Weber called a private meeting with school district employees to make commitments that proposed staff reductions would not happen. He did so without authorization from the Board of Education and did so while we were engaged in contract negotiations with the union representing these employees. His approach to public service in many cases was not only destructive to our community, but possibly illegal, and the height of political aggrandizement that he claims to be against.
I thought Mr. Weber's self-serving actions would have stopped when he chose not to seek re- election last year and hope, for the benefit of our entire community, he allows our school district and the current Board to move forward with their business. If Mr. Weber was so concerned about the direction that our district was taking, he should have ran for re-election.
As a life-long Kings Parker, an attorney, and someone who has given a great deal to our town, I have an incredible amount of respect for anyone that chooses to run for the Board of Education. It is a mostly thankless job, and the challenges are enormous. For six years, I worked hard to do what was right and if there are any doubts to the success of our schools, just look at the great things that our students go on to accomplish after receiving an education in our district. Many of our graduates even move back to Kings Park to raise their own families because they too know that great education and great experience that their children will have in our schools.
Editor's note: Bill Motherway was a member of the Kings Park Board of Education from 2006-2012. He served as president from 2010-2012