Who to believe?

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I’m writing this letter as a resident and taxpayer of the Remsenburg/Speonk School District who has the right to express his personal opinion, not as a School Board member or with the endorsement of the Board of Education.

It’s sad to see that the Citizens Advocating Responsible Expansion (CARE) group, which could stand for Citizens Against Rules and Ethics, have been distributing and disseminating so much misinformation and dividing our community.

It started with the first informational meeting hosted by the school district. After guidelines were set for the meeting, which allowed for all people to equally voice their opinion, Louis Mancuso, after already speaking, got up again and stated: “I don’t care about the rules; I’m going to speak again.” As the leader of CARE, he set the tone for the unethical tactics of this group.

Following that meeting, Gerard Frey was observed at the Remsenburg Post Office distributing an unsigned letter packed with misinformation, as well as a comment calling the school superintendent and the School Board president dishonest.

Next, a letter was distributed by this group by mail, which included a list of residents on the bottom of the sheet. After personally speaking with some of those residents, they indicated that they never gave anyone permission to publish their names. This same letter was enclosed in FedEx envelopes and placed on the windshields of vehicles of those in attendance at the second informational meeting at the school. I don’t think FedEx intended their envelopes for this use.

There seems to be a conflict of interest with several members of the board of the Remsenburg Academy, a non-partisan, non-political organization. With five of the 13 members of the Remsenburg Academy board listed on the CARE letter, it seems that they have used their influence to have the Academy sponsor an upcoming anti-school expansion meeting and announced their meeting many weeks prior to gaining permission from the board of the Academy.

In all fairness, one of those five members indicated that he did not give the group permission to list his name on the CARE letter. He also stated, while it was after the fact, that the group in favor of the expansion could use the building if they desired. Note: It would, however, be impossible at the time of this invitation to organize and promote such a meeting prior to the vote.

So who should you believe? A group of people who feel they are above the law, have misinformed the public and want to put our children in modular buildings, or the Board of Education, administrators, teachers, staff and building planning committee representatives who have worked for three years, with the help of the Town of Southampton’s planning division, to provide a “green building” addressing what the children need now and the expected needs of the future. We have placed our trust in the school district all along and, with the children and staff, they have delivered the highest level of excellence in education and a federally recognized “Blue Ribbon School.” Please continue that trust.

All the children, especially those with special needs, deserve our support, for none of them have any say in this matter. When you pull that lever on December 12, think of the children, our future leaders, not of just yourself.

JERRY COLLINSRemsenburgJerry Collins is the president of the Remsenburg/Speonk School Board—Ed.

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