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Public statements open Salamanca School Board meeting

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Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:00 am

SALAMANCA - The regular meeting of the Salamanca City Central School District Board of Education on Tuesday night began with the reading of two statements on behalf of Charles Crist, former Seneca Elementary School principal.

He was put on administrative leave in November by Superintendent Douglas Hay and has presumably been the subject of discussion during a series of executive sessions called by the board.

Citing privacy and legal concerns, no school official has commented on specific reasons why Mr. Crist was removed.

The first statement was read by Holly Studd, occupational therapist for the school district. The letter was addressed to the board and was read on behalf of many employees at Seneca Elementary who signed it.

It stated that the staff is “devastated by (Mr. Crist’s) absence” from the school and that they “want him to return to his position” as principal.

The second statement was read by Jane St. John, a family member of Mr. Crist, who spoke for over six minutes about the current situation. She emphasized that she wanted board members to be sure they are “getting the entire story” concerning the leave and asked if the procedure was “not something that could have been done more expediently and with less cost to taxpayers.”

Board president Robert Crandall responded to the statements by stating that he does not question the integrity of Mr. Hay, the school board or the school’s attorney in the matter.

“What we are doing is following the process that is mandated to us by New York state education law,” he said.

He referred the public to individuals to contact if they believe the process was not handled appropriately, but added, “we are following a process that we are dictated and I feel very comfortable that we have done it with diligence and that we are following that in the best interest of what we are allowed to.”

Continuing with the meeting, Susan Andrews, public information specialist for the district, and Tammy Dry, technology integration technician, introduced the redesigned school district Web site. During their presentation, they showed the board and the public some of the new site’s features and answered any immediate questions that were raised by board members.

“Please give me your feedback, because this is still a work in progress,” Ms. Andrews said. “There will always be new things that are going to be added all the time.”

The Web site, which can be found at http://www.SalamancaNY.org">www.SalamancaNY.org, was launched overnight and was expected to be fully operational by Wednesday morning.

In other business:

® The International Club asked for approval of a trip to Italy in 2012 for this year’s freshmen class so they could begin fundraising. The trip would be similar to the trip that will be taken in 2011 by this year’s sophomore class. There was also a discussion concerning transportation to and from the airport for the students.

® Two new courses were approved for the 2010-11 high school curriculum, Entrepreneurship and Seneca History II. The board also passed a motion for a new textbook for the approved Entrepreneurship class.

® A $1,000 scholarship award to a graduating senior in memory of Thomas C. George was approved. The student must meet certain criteria established by the Donna George family, which includes a three-sport athlete with at least a B average in academics.

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