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Dec 042013
 

Extended Day KindergartenSuperintendent Lynn McMullin and the Orange Board of Education are beginning discussions about an extended day kindergarten pilot.

“While our current Kindergarten program at Mary L. Tracy is very strong, and students are meeting and even exceeding all of the CT State benchmarks; the BOE is nevertheless looking at options for extending the day for those families who would be interested,” McMullin said.

If you have a preschooler, your input is requested.

The survey is available at the www.oess.org webpage in the pop-up window or by typing the following address in your address bar: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ExtKsurvey.

The survey is open until Monday, Dec. 30, and all orange parents of preschoolers are encouraged to respond.

Jan 292013
 

Sally Port designs

The School Security Ad Hoc Committee went before the Orange Board of Finance on Monday night to present its safety proposal and request needed funding in order to implement the measures immediately.

The Committee, which includes members of the police and fire departments, Board of Ed, teachers, parents, technology and security specialists and others, have met as a whole at least twice and thoroughly examined the Orange school buildings and discussed what it will take to keep the children safe.

During the presentation, they assured the Finance Board that they had done their research and each of them understood concepts and terms such as “line of sight,” “shatter-guard,” and “sally-ports.” and the difference between prevention and mitigation.

They stressed there was nothing knee jerk in the proposal, which includes common sense enhancements that mitigate a potential situation, contemporary updates to multi-use security applications that take advantage of technology.

They want to implement steps that other districts already have taken in the past 6 to 10 years.

The BOE Facilities Director has worked collaboratively with the police and fire departments since 2006 and most recently Jan. 17, on its SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (critical infrastructure assessments).

Many of the recommendations, including surveillance cameras are just out of reach, but providing all of the classrooms with window blinds, continuing lock-down drills and using a sign-in system.

According to the presentation the schools already have begun several key issues to provide a safe environment, including bullying prevention, positive behavior intervention and adding a full-time school resource officer.

The “soft” estimated cost for the immediately attainable measures is $730,000.

• Assigning a trained full time school resource officer to the schools. This way an officer is an unscheduled, unannounced presence at each of the schools on a daily basis. At which school he will be at a certain time makes it impossible for someone to “Plan” an attack on a school.
The school resource officer also would work with students on issues like bullying, substance abuse, decision-making and communications media.

• They want to immediately install Rapid Call Buttons at all four schools — this is a mass notification system: 1-step push of a button to make both a pre-recorded loud speaker announcement and 911 call simultaneously.
The estimated cost for all four schools is $29,000.

• ID Badge Entry System — Install ID Card readers to open locked entryway doors on color coded lanyards. Changing exterior doors.
The estimated cost with panic button for all four schools is $150000.

• Changing classroom door locks that would auto-lock from the hallway.
Classroom doors will be locked at all times when the room is empty.
The lock sets at one building would be keyed together and teachers, administrators and rescuers can access each secure classroom.
The estimated cost is $150 per installed lock-set — totaling $97,000.

• One of the most expensive proposals, at $430,000 is a video surveillance system  that would monitor entrances, playgrounds, in offices, common areas and down the hallways, which would enable real-time monitoring, and allow authorities to review recordings should an incident occur.

• The BOE requested support for the Police department’s wireless backhaul system request which is needed for surveillance cameras at a cost of $125,000. And Support for the police departments personnel request to accommodate a full-time SRO in the schools (undetermined cost).

Orange Live will have more information as it becomes available.

Jan 162013
 

Jody Dietch (face blocked by microphone) in a file photo from an earlier BOE meeting

This is a continuation of the controversial Orange Board of Education situation that Orange Live first reported in early December.

Click these links for the Original Story, the January meeting, Amy Criscuolo’s letter, Jeanne Consiglio’s resignation, Sue Falvey’s letter.

Following is the letter Jody Dietch presented at the January 14 Orange Board of Ed meeting:

Let me start by saying that it is with great disappointment that I stand here this evening to make this statement.  I was seated as the acting chair in December because the unanimously re-elected chair was out of town.  I am not an attorney nor a parliamentarian, so the issues that were brought up regarding the validity of our November elections caught me completely unprepared.  That is why I requested any new vote be postponed until this meeting, the January board meeting, by which time we could get consultation from our board attorney to be sure we have elected our officers legally.

As has been the past practice of the Orange Board of Education, we held our board elections in November, as stated in our By Laws, policy 9120.  The issue noted at the December meeting of having newly elected board members able to vote for the Board of Education officers was always resolved by either adjusting the November meeting date or, as was done in 2011, holding a special meeting just for the purpose of electing officers.

Additionally the November election was properly noticed and all were present. Therefore, the meeting was, “valid regardless of it being a Monday or Tuesday” based on the opinion of Attorney Kevin Reynolds.  No Board of Ed members had any issue with the date of the November meeting.

The December election was improper for a few reasons. First the point of order was out of order since a point of order is to be done at the time of the alleged infraction. Second, a 2/3 vote of all members is the way our By Laws read, not members present. Therefore, there was not a 2/3 majority to override the chair’s rulings.

Subsequent to the December meeting, four of us on the Board of Education requested the written opinion of the board attorney to which we were denied access.  On the night of the December meeting, Keith Marquis, the

Decision maker Keith Marquis

unconfirmed acting chair, sent an email to Superintendent Lynn McMullin copying the entire Board stating, in part, “With 2/3rds majority of the Board finding the November election improper and being desirous of holding the election in accordance with Bylaw Section 9121 in December, there is no need to contact Attorney Mills on the issue……The Orange Board of Education will not pay for legal opinions unless authorized. You are not authorized to seek legal counsel on this issue.”

Once again, Amy, Sue and I are asking for Lynn McMullin to be directed to seek a formal written opinion from Attorney Mills, the Board’s legal counsel.  There is clearly legal precedent that upholds the November meeting, and with conflicting By Laws, we need the board attorney to guide us on how to reconcile By Laws in conflict.

Why is this important? For many reasons. One, we are supposed to be an example to the community. The message that is being sent to our community is that if you don’t like the results of an election, just hold another election. Second, without a written legal opinion confirming the validity of our elections, and directing us as to which set of By Laws we should be operating under in regards to the election of officers, there is no clear chair of the Board. This is jeopardizing any business the chair conducts, such as signing a negotiated contract, which could possibly make it null and void if it is found that the person acting as chair was not in fact legally elected.

Board Policy 9325 states, and I quote: “The conduct of meetings shall, to the fullest possible extent, enable members of the Board (1) to consider problems to be solved, weigh evidence related thereto, and make decisions intended to solve the problems….”

I urge you to put the politics aside and do what is right for the integrity of this Board and I urge the public to demand the same

Submitted by

Jody Dietch, Board of Education member

Jan 162013
 

File photo with Supt. Lynn McMullin, Then Chairman Jeanne Consiglio, then vice chair Keith Marquis, board member Jody Dietch and board member Sue Falvey, who has since resigned.

First, former Orange Board of Education Chairman Jeanne Consiglio resigned from the board and on Monday member Susan Falvey also resigned.

This all began at a contentious December BOE meeting when board member (former vice chairman Keith Marquis, who was not reelected in the November board officers election) claimed that the November election was not legal and in spite of protests from several board members went forward in running another election after securing his place as Chairman in the absence of Consiglio, who was on vacation.

Falvey read this letter at Monday’s board meeting:

I ask everyone to think about this question: Were the board members who overturned our original vote in November thinking about our children or thinking about some vendetta or selfish,  political feelings? Think about it…

As of right now,  we don’t know who the legal chair is. We are unsure if the last month of board business, including teacher contract is legal. This can affect our teachers and our children. We have requested the legal opinion of our lawyer but Keith Marquis who is acting Chair has denied our request. Why?

We have seeked the opinions of other BOE lawyers and chairs from surrounding towns, all specializing in policy and Roberts Rules. They all agree that the December vote probably is not legal. Maybe after this meeting and hopefully some emails and calls to the board office from you, orange citizens, Keith Marquis who is acting chair, will grant the request to seek our lawyer’s advice.

An accusation was made at the December meeting that the November election was manipulated. YET, the new vote in December WAS NOT? When the currently seated chair received only 3 of 10 votes for vice chair in November yet received 6 of 9 votes in December? What does that tell us?…

Our November vote was all about the children in Orange. So why was it so imperative to overturn the vote AND in December in front of Race Brook students? One student captured it perfectly by saying, “politics.”

I am unsure if those board members who brought this up even apologized to the RBS community. I say “those” because this action of “Point of Order” was calculated amongst those board members. I find it difficult to  participate in a political entity which allows its members, some of whom happen to be attorneys, to use an insignificant loophole to cast a revote AND without discussing it with the entire board.

Why didn’t these same legal minds recognize this technicality during the evening of the first November vote? This revote resulted in a grave consequence AND also taking us away from our main goal which is and always should be the educational objectives of our children.  Also, the timely nature of the revote happened to coincide with the absence of one member, a scenario that was needed to overturn the original vote. If there wasn’t any deceit involved, then the votes would not have changed in December.

What benefit does this serve our children? This only serves the board members who deliberately blindsided the town, RBS community, and the rest of the board!

Based on the above points I have made, where in my opinion, those board members main objective was power and partisan politics versus the educational objectives of our children, I am again asking for support from our town members to seek opinion from our BOE lawyer on this issue. Please email our board office.

I hope Keith will then report those findings so we can resolve this issue. We want to end this immediately so we can continue the focus on the educational needs of our children and schools here in Orange.

I was elected As a public servant. I thought I could use my expertise as an educator and parent,  but after a year of this  political nonsense, I realized that it is more about power and winning than about our children. I cannot be a part of a group that puts their needs before the needs of our children. I apologize for resigning before my term is up, however this scenario is unacceptable to me.

To Lynn McMullin who is a steadfast administrator, Thank you for all you do. To Jody and Amy, Thanks for keeping your priorities in check. Best of luck to all.

Jan 152013
 

File photo of Consiglio as Chairman of the Board of Ed

Dated Dec. 13, 2012 after she returned from vacation and learned that she was no longer the Board of Education Chairman, Jeanne Consiglio sent this letter of resignation to Town Clerk Pat O’Sullivan.

Resignation from Orange Board of Education

Dear Patrick,

This letter will serve to notify you of my resignation, effective December 13, 2012, from the Orange Board of Education.

I choose not to serve on a Board of Education which has political affiliation as a priority rather than the education of children.

Best Regards,

Jeanne Consiglio

 

NOTE: Consiglio told Orange Live that she loved being part of something that she cared about doing to help the children and the town.

Jan 152013
 

In December, Orange Live reported on a “Disturbance in the Force” at the Orange Board of Education Meeting, describing the events as “embarrassing” when former vice chairman Keith Marquis took over the public session portion of the meeting and called for a new vote for board officers which, in the absence of Chairman Jeanne Consiglio ultimately led to him being elected as Chairman.

He claimed the November officers’ vote was held illegally, and insisted that his procedure for the new election was legal, yet, in spite of protests from other board members asking for the vote to be tabled until the January meeting, Marquis, as chairman, said no, and stressed that no legal advice was necessary. He instructed Supt. Lynn McMullin not to pursue legal advice on the matter.

What Orange Live readers have said is that all of this sounded hinky. If the November board election was illegal then why not seek legal advice to see if Marquis’ claim was true? If the December election was Legal, but not accepted by the entire board and surrounded by so many questions, then why not seek legal advice? Unless the new chairman is afraid his actions will be reversed.

When she returned from vacation in December, Jeanne Consiglio formally resigned from the board, which she had dedicated many years to and, as chairman, had turned around so it was a “kinder, more civil board” than it had been in a long time.

On Monday night, Jan. 14, board member Susan Falvey, who had been quite vocal during the December meeting, resigned her seat as well.

Board members Falvey, Jody Dietch (Who had been elected vice chairman in November – but lost the officers’ seat in the questionable December election) and Amy Criscuolo each read letters to the board regarding the election situation.

Here is Amy Criscuolo’s letter so the community can see for themselves how this board member feels.

I suggest you watch the meeting on OGAT when it airs. The letters were presented within the first 10 minutes of the meeting.

  • From Amy Criscuolo

Over the past 3 years that I have served as a board member on the Orange Board of Education, I can honestly say that as board members we have successfully been able to agree to disagree on certain subjects without division among members or our party affiliations.

However I would be lying if I said that what occurred at the December 3rd OBOE meeting has not damaged the relationships of the board members and caused the resignation of a devoted board member, Jeanne Consiglio.

Upon leaving the December OBOE meeting I was bewildered and disturbed by the actions, demeanors and outcome of the meeting.  How could the newly elected officers of the previous month be ousted from their positions, when there is clear precedent to allow the OBOE officer elections to be held on another day other than the one stated in the bylaws.  Furthermore there was ample notice of the meeting date and there were no objections at the time of the November meeting.  The vote was held, the results announced and again there was no objection at the time of the vote, therefore the votes were official at the November meeting and could not be challenged, especially at a subsequent meeting.

At the December meeting, when Keith called a Point of Order stating the November elections were improper, I would be remiss if I said I knew exactly what Point of Order meant.  I contacted several local parliamentarians and Dr. Leonard Young, Executive Director and Parliamentarian of the National Association of Parliamentarians and he directed me to the Robert’s Rules of Order Manual which explains that a Point of Order has to be raised promptly at the time the breech occurs.  So now I question was there abuse of parliamentary law to steal the offices of those that were legally elected?

Based on the definition of when a Point of Order is to be used, the way that Keith called the Point of Order last month was out of order and therefore shadows doubt on the validity of the outcome of the December elections.   At the December 3rd OBOE meeting I asked for a legal opinion and was denied. On December 11th, Jeanne, Jody, Sue and myself emailed Keith requesting that the board seek legal opinion on the legalities of the November and December meetings and again our request was denied. At this point, I can’t help but be concerned about the legal makeup of the OBOE officers.

I am AGAIN requesting for the third time a legal opinion for clarification of the legalities of the November and December OBOE meetings and in addition I am requesting an opinion from a Robert’s Rules of Order Parliamentarian to clarify Keith’s use of a Point of Order at the December 3rd 2012 OBOE meeting.

Keith as Chair, I am respectfully asking you to end the controversy and extend the courtesy to the members that are requesting opinions so we can move forward and work as a united board and achieve what we are here to do, serve our children and our community.

Respectfully submitted,

Amy Criscuolo

OBOE Board Member

Dec 102012
 

No one realized that there would be fireworks at the Dec. 3 Orange Board of Ed meeting at  Race Brook School

The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance and reading of the Board of Ed Mission Statement.

Vice-Chairman Jody Dietch was sitting in for the vacationing Board Chairman Jeanne Consiglio, and in the presence of a half dozen or more elementary school students, she announced the opening of the public participation portion of the meeting.

Immediately former vice chairman Keith Marquis jumped in, stating that the board elections taken in November were illegal.

He quoted by-laws explaining that the elections are to take place in December not November and that board members whose terms begin in December could not rightfully vote on such things in November

He moved for a new election, which was seconded by another board member.

Within the bylaws Dietch found a section that specified the second Monday in November was correct.

Marquis persisted that there is supposed to be an annual meeting and a regular meeting, yet the board only had a regular meeting but no annual meeting with a separate agenda.

Board member Deb Marino questioned why this concern wasn’t brought up at the last meeting.

Upon further examination of the board bylaws, Dietch said the two — the one by which the board held its election and the one to which Marquis brought attention — were contradictory to one another. At this point the children in attendance began to squirm in their seats and adults also became uncomfortable.

Dietch said the issue should be held over until the January meeting.

Marino made a motion to appeal, 2/3 of the board approved it, and then Marquis made a motion to add the election to the agenda.

•••

COWS

18 minutes into the meeting the Racebrook School sixth grade students offered a presentation on Computers On Wheels (COWS) in their classroom, each telling how he or she utilizes the equipment.

The presentation concluded with an explanation of how they will create a Public Service Announcement using the COWS in the future.

•••

Bonding

Kevin McNabola presented the projects for which the town will need to obtain $14.5 Million bonding — 23% is the state reimbursable rate for school projects.

Here is the LINK to the Bonding Slideshow Presentation

•••

Back to the Election Question

With the Election back on the agenda, Dietch stated that after having obtained a copy of the prior month’s agenda, The November month’s meeting was listed as an annual meeting, therefore it was a legal meeting.

Deb Marino questioned The date on which it fell, and Dietch quickly answered that the calendar had been approved by the board.

Marquis said the board voted to re-do the election, and Dietch said they voted after receiving misinformation that it was an illegal meeting, so … NO, no more meetings to clarify anything. The meeting was legal, the election vote stands.

Marquis appealed her ruling and it was seconded.

Board member Sue Falvey then gave Marquis a tongue lashing stating she was upset that he decided to blindside Consiglio by bringing up the issue when the chairman was on vacation.

“I know what you’re up to, I know what you’re doing. You want the vote right now,” she said. “She needs to be here, that’s the bottom line.”

Falvey went on to say that she voted for Consiglio as chairman.

Marquis answered with, “You can still vote for her.”

Falvey snapped back, “You filled me in that you know what the numbers are going to be, how everyone will vote … you know you’re going to win, and you know she’s going to lose … she needs to be here.”

Marquis said the board has a policy against personal attacks on individuals and if it is going to be discussed it should be done in executive session or in a special meeting.

Dietch said, why not have elections in a special meeting when the whole board can be here.

Addressing Marquis, Falvey said, ” You just brought our dirty laundry out here for everyone to see.”

To which Marquis calmly retorted, “I didn’t make any mention of anything until you decided to throw it out.”

Dietch jumped in, “I do believe that the entire board should be here. I don’t believe that Jeannie knew that anyone was planning to…..”

Falvey completed the sentence, “…..Blindside her.”

Dietch continued, “… bring this issue up. We have documentation showing that it was a legal meeting and I don’t believe these elections should be held.”

“I think it’s a shame that the current climate in the town has done everything in its power to make this board political, which it never was,” Dietch said. “I think it’s a shame that the focus is being taken off of what we’re here for, which is the children of this town and not to be a political board.”

“The fact that you are trying to make it a political board — AND YOU ARE — don’t deny that … is a shame,” Dietch said to Marquis. “I’ve been on this board longer than almost everybody here and the same time as you Keith and you know darn well what I’m talking about.”

“I think it’s a shame, I don’t see why it can’t wait until the January meeting. Obviously the votes are not here to override your appeal,” Dietch said.

“I think it’s a shame what you are all doing and if you think the election was illegal there’s no reason it can’t wait till the January meeting.”

Board Member Amy Criscuolo said that the board should seek a legal opinion before proceeding.

Falvey moved to have it carried over to the January meeting, which Criscuolo seconded.

Marquis said he wanted to have some discussion.

Addressing Dietch, he said, “You said I’m making this political… you should look back at the last election and see what happened there. Historically the Chairman has been from one party and the vice chair from another  but that was thrown to the wind last month by whatever deals you made….”

Dietch answered, “There were no deals, I didn’t even know I was being nominated.”

The atmosphere did not get any nicer, people who were present compared it to the contentious boards from the late 90s early 2000s.

Each board member received three pieces of different colored paper.

Nominations were taken for Chairman: there were two — Keith Marquis and Jeannie Consiglio —result,  6-3 in favor of Marquis

For Vice Chairman: Jody Dietch and Bill Kraut  nominated— result, 6-3 in favor of Kraut.

Secretary: Deb Marino and Amy Criscuolo nominated —result,  6-3 in favor of Marino.

For those who are not Political,

The November election had an Independent (D) as Chairman, Democrat as Vice Chair and Republican as Secretary.

The New Election has a Republican as Chairman, Independent (R) as Vice Chair and Republican as Secretary.

Originally published Dec. 5

Aug 272012