Board of Ed response to publication of its letter to TB supporting Shapiro

Monday, June 9, 2014
~ from Jeffrey Mester, President, Chappaqua Board of Education

The letter we wrote to the Town Board speaks for itself.  The letter, by its tone, was obviously meant to be private, but the School Board has no objection to the message in the letter being made public.  While sending a letter to a public board has no expectation of privacy, we did expect discretion.

Our intention in writing privately to the Town Board was so that it could not be used to inflame incivility.  We certainly did not want it to be used for anyone’s or any publication’s political gain.  In fact, we turned down a request by the Town Supervisor to write a separate public letter as well as turned down an informal request by this publication to provide either a copy of the email or to make a separate statement.

In summary, we wanted the Town Board to appreciate that:

1) There needs to be more civility in communication between members of our community. As neighbors and fellow community members,  we should be able to disagree without making personal attacks.

2) Our support for Jill Shapiro is based on the renewed working relationship she has built with the school district in the last 6 months.  Speaking from experience, people always have time to criticize but rarely have the time to send a note of appreciation.  This is what we did as we would do for any other employee with whom we have direct working experience and who has had such a profound effect on the tenor of relations.

3) It is up to the Town Board to manage and oversee the business of the town.  That is why they were elected.  A publicly elected board should use the facts, community input, and especially their good judgment and make decisions that they believe is in the best interests of the entire community while protecting those classes of community members that need or are entitled to protection.

4) We believe giving input to any public board where there is direct relevant information is appropriate. Just as we hope community members communicate with us about relevant school matters, we as a district are members of the community that is New Castle.  How a board chooses to use that input is their business. 

Again, our only interest in writing the letter is to acknowledge the Town Board’s role in managing the town, to reiterate that we support civility in disagreement and to give our input by acknowledging the professionalism and competency Jill Shapiro has demonstrated in her dealings with our administration.

Jeffrey Mester, President
Karen Visser, Vice President
Alyson Gardner Kiesel
Victoria Tipp
Warren Messner
Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education

Related: In post-election Kittle House conversation, BoE members decide to write in support of Shapiro,, 6/9/14

TB member Jason Chapin objects to appointment process for administrator position,, 6/5/14

Op-Ed: Our TB has a duty to conduct an open search to fill the Town Administrator position,, 5/24/14

Was Jill Shapiro appointed town administrator for six months or for two years?,, 5/19/14

L to E: Transparency?  The town administrator’s contract was supposed to be for six months,, 5/19/14


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