2017-07-12 / Front Page

Switch—again—by MSD Trustee LaBella halts 6th grade move in September

Board votes to rescind compromise measure after Butler is sworn in

Newly sworn in MSD Trustee Brian Butler expresses his points on 6th grade move at last week's meeting.Newly sworn in MSD Trustee Brian Butler expresses his points on 6th grade move at last week's meeting.by Michael Scro

The Massapequa School board rescinded a compromise resolution it approved last month that would have allowed the controversial 6th grade reconfiguration plan to move forward in September.

The vote, which came as a surprise to the community since Trustee Joseph LaBella had pledged to uphold it, was taken at the July 13 meeting at which Trustee Brian Butler, an opponent of the change, was sworn in. He joined LaBella and Trustee Tim Taylor to create a new majority on the board that did not want to see the change.

The compromise resolution would have allowed the change to move forward in September and put the question to a public advisory vote in January.

In explaining his decision to renege on his pledge to uphold the change this year, LaBella said: "I voted against this twice; I went along with supporting it because this is a democracy and when you're outnumbered you go with the majority; that's what I believe. There now three people who are against it," he concluded.

Continuing in their support of the plan, Trustees Gary Baldinger and Maryanne Fisher voted against the resolution.

The vote once again puts the district in turmoil.

Superintendent of Massapequa Schools Lucille Iconis strongly advised against going forward with the rescinding resolutions, listing numerous difficulties and contractual/legal issues that would have to be addressed in the time leading up to September 6, when the school year begins.

"If the expectation is to open this district on September 6 in a smooth educationally sound, safe, fiscally responsible manner, then I ask you how to do it," Iconis said, addressing the board members who voted for the rescinding.

Butler said he expects the administration to uphold its obligations pursuant to their contracts, and effectively lead the students. "Their duties are to get the schools open and make sure that everything is operational from day one," Butler said.

LaBella said he empathizes with students who will be disappointed in the board's decision, and that he thought the compromise vote on June 15 would "quell the problem.

“It hasn't, because people to continue to fight and be separated," he said.

That was evident as the resolution was raised at the meeting, a highly outraged response from reconfiguration supporters, and causing verbal outbursts and exchanges throughout the meeting. Community members both lambasted and praised the school board for their decision, as well as the administration for their planning of the reconfiguration.

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