Readers Write: EWSD continues to show lack of openness on N. Side Fence

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At its monthly meeting on Sept. 9, the East Williston School District continued to demonstrate a lack of openness with residents about its lawsuit against the Village of East Williston related to the installation of a fence at North Side School.

Although the School District gave a lengthy Powerpoint presentation on the timeline and status of the fence, it omitted critical facts and information!

It was only after residents strongly objected and peppered the school board with questions and comments did it acknowledge these facts and subsequently stated that the documentation would be added to the district presentation and posted on-line.

Specifically, their presentation failed to include the following:

  • The state Education Department sent a letter dated May 7, 2019, to the district stating that SED’s approval of the school’s building project “is separate and distinct from any local zoning approval” with specific reference to the fence and that “the district is advised to resolve any potential local zoning issues…directly with the Village of East Williston.”
  • Instead of complying with the SED letter, the school district sued the Village of East Williston on June 28, 2019, demanding that the village withdraw a letter dated May 17, 2019, requesting that the school district conform to the Village Zoning code.
  • In spite of the pending lawsuit, the school district began constructing the fence in mid-August in total disregard of the SED letter and in total disregard of the Village of East Williston zoning regulations.
  • On Aug. 23 the courts issued a Temporary Restraining Order immediately halting construction.
  • The school district appealed and its request for an emergency lifting of the TRO was denied and the case is still in progress.

Also, in response to a resident’s question, we learned that the District has incurred $56,000 in legal fees so far, the need for which is clearly questionable!

Why do the residents have to bring these facts to light? The School District superintendent and school board give the impression that they are not obligated to be open and forthcoming with the community and that they are above the laws and regulations of New  York State and Village of East Williston. In doing so, they are losing the public’s trust.

Please contact the school district and insist that they drop this costly and unnecessary lawsuit and comply with the village zoning regulations.

Maureen Chappo

East Williston

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