The Hauppauge Board of Education is considering changing the rules on how local taxpayers can file complaints about the school district, a move that sparked some dissent among board members.
Hauppauge trustees on Tuesday discussed whether to update Board Policy No. 1400 "Public Complaints," which affects how the public interacts with school officials, administrators and Board of Education members.
The part of the "Public Complaints" code in question reads:
All matters referred to the Superintendent and/or Board shall be in writing. Concerns registered directly to the Board as a whole or to an individual Board member shall be referred as soon as is reasonably possible to the superintendent for investigation, report and/or resolution.
Board Vice President Eileen Mass proposed changing the policy so that district taxpayers would not have to submit all complaints in writing, such as parents speaking at board meetings or those seeking board members anonymously. Mass said she feared the requirement to file complaints in writing could deter people from reporting personal incidents and concerns.
Mass also proposed changing the code so that complaints made at Board of Education meetings would not have to be referred to the superintendent since Patricia Sullivan-Kriss attends the meetings herself.
Not all members of the Board of Education agreed. Board of Education president Geri Richter said she was concerned if residents spoke with an individual board member at a sporting event, in the supermarket or elsewhere, and the board member forgot to report, it could cause potential problems.
But as the debate stirred, the Board of Education halted the public part of the meeting to bring the discussion behind closed doors in executive session.
It was second straight week where the board interrupted a moment of conflict at the board meeting to retreat into executive session. On Jan. 24, board trustees called for an executive session when Robotics Club parents raised concerns about being billed for stage use and building security after an annual November Oldies Concert fundraiser.
Prior to these two meetings, the Hauppauge Board of Education had not called for an executive session in the middle of a board meeting since at least August 2010, when Patch began attending board meetings.