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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/23/2018

Nisky school board violated own policy firing hoops coach

Nisky school board violated own policy firing hoops coach

*Nisky school board violated own policy firing hoops coach *Outsiders coming into Sch’dy to dump tra

Nisky school board violated own policy firing hoops coach

The Niskayuna school board elected — without explanation — to terminate the school’s boys varsity basketball coach [Oct. 9 Gazette].

The action came after what can objectively be described as significant public, student and player support of the coach and pleadings on his behalf. Indeed, the district superintendent and athletic director recommended reappointment.

The Niskayuna school board has adopted a set of policies presumably designed to temper its governance. The board’s “Educational philosophy” includes this: “The board is dedicated to educating students to develop desired moral, ethical and cultural values — and to cultivate an appreciation of the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.”

“The objectives of an educational program are best realized when mutual understanding, cooperation and effective communications exist among the home, community and school.”

Granted, some of this language presents as grandiose, but it is policy. The board’s action violated its own directive to “effectively communicate” with the community regarding this matter and ignored its self-proclaimed “dedication” to the cultivation of rights and responsibilities by refusing to explain its action.

The board has eight adopted “community relations goals.” Among them are: 1) To listen to comments and concerns of residents; 2) to respond publicly to widely held concerns; and 7) to encourage parental participation in schools.

Nor should we ignore the board’s “evaluation of school district staff” policy directive: “In the absence of a contractual process, the superintendent is responsible for developing an evaluation procedure — and implementing it in accordance with the commissioner’s regulations.”

In this matter, the superintendent performed her role as defined by the board. The board rejected her recommendation in contravention of its own rules.

A new coach has now been selected (Nov. 6 Gazette); let’s hope he can continue to develop the program. Best of luck with the board.

Stephen Benton


Outsiders coming into Sch’dy to dump trash?

As a Schenectady resident and runner, I am a regular user of the roads and trails in Central Park throughout the year. The city of Schenectady, its taxpayers and many community organizations have worked hard over the years to develop its beauty, improve its resources and maintain its facilities.

Most of the park’s users appreciate this. Not everyone. Park users regularly see piles of trash strewn on out-of-the-way park roadsides, truckloads of construction debris dumped over banks into streams, overflowing trash cans and discarded tires piled on the edges of perimeter parking lots.

I believe that people from outside the city who do not want to pay for private collection in their towns, or don’t use the county transfer station, which charges minimal fees, are mainly responsible. This opinion was confirmed Nov. 6 when, as I was running near the tennis courts, I observed a man take bags of trash and piles of newspaper out of a newer looking SUV and dump them next to the parking lot.

As it happens, much of the trash that this well-dressed man (a medical doctor whose name will be reported to police) dropped out of his SUV was mail with his and his spouse’s name and address on it, from a nice Niskayuna neighborhood.

This person, and others like him, is stealing from the residents of Schenectady, who pay for the maintenance of the park, the labor necessary to pick up the trash and dispose of it, and who sometimes have to look at the result of the selfishness of others who should know better.

John Parisella


AR-15 rifle unrivaled for self-protection

Why are gun-control advocates fighting to give the AR-15 such a bad name? Could it be because they are afraid that law-abiding citizens have the ability to effectively defend themselves?

Our government should want its citizens to be safe in their homes and be protected with an effective self-defense rifle. Does the Armalite Rifle 15 (AR-15) threaten the government’s ability to control your lives? Does the government not really want you to have an effective means to defend yourself?

Do you really trust the government to protect you when they are taking your freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution away? Do you really think they have your safety in mind when they pass laws that make it harder for you to protect yourself and your family?

Do you think Andrew Cuomo had your safety and best interest in mind when he rammed the Safe Act through in the middle of the night while you were sleeping? Or was he thinking about his own political ambitions and Constitution-trampling agenda?

Andrew Short


School discrimination story left out the good

The Gazette’s Oct. 31 coverage of the federal Office of Civil Rights’ [OCR] compliance review in the Schenectady City School District left part of the story untold. Negative and sensationalized stories sell better.

Referring students to special education is an effort to secure additional support, not an attempt to send our students to the dungeon, as the Gazette’s Nov. 1 cartoon distastefully implied. Decisions to provide special education services are not made solely by teachers. They are discussed with and approved by administration. Many conversations around efforts to improve student outcomes occur before a referral for special education services is made.

I am proud to represent 900-plus teachers who care deeply for and give so much of themselves to all students in the Schenectady school district. Contrary to what some believe, we are not simply white, middle-class educators who don’t understand the cultural differences of our student population. We are a compilation of educators with many years of experience, dedication and an understanding of our students’ poverty and diversity.

As such, I’m confident our teachers will continue to reflect on practices with the goal of providing equitable and effective instruction.

Juliet C. Benaquisto


The writer is president of the Schenectady Federation of Teachers.

At raise time, give poorer more money

Re the Social Security raise of 1.5 percent[Oct. 13 Gazette]: The article indicated that a $1,272 recipient gets a raise of about $19, while a person getting $2,533 gets a raise of about $38. Now, isn’t it quite obvious who needs it more?

They should give everyone the same amount, instead of a percentage.

You see the same in [union] contract negotiations: The workers on a higher scale get a bigger raise than ones making less. Another reason why the gap is getting wider between the top and bottom.

D.W. Gros


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