Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday Night at JLE

The Register-Star had an article today about the special meeting of the Board of Education held last night at John L. Edwards: "Crowd turns out to talk solutions to school fights." Although the article includes one unfortunate typo (thank you, Scott Baldinger, for bringing this to our attention) when it reports that Tom Gavin's duties at the District Office, where he is working while on administrative leave from his job as co-principal of the high school, "are commiserate with his tenure area and experience, that is, 'in the discipline area,'” it doesn't include some of the more memorable moments of last night's meeting. That's not surprising, since at least two people last night blamed the Register-Star--especially the headline "Fights erupt at HHS; principal suspended"--for fanning the flames. (Interestingly, in the Register-Star's online archive, that headline has been changed to: "Fights erupt at HHS; principal put on administrative leave.")

There was a lot of reading of statements at the meeting. HSCD Superintendent Jack Howe read a long statement he'd already delivered to students, faculty, and staff, the gist of which seemed to be: "Do the right thing--always!" Bill Hallenbeck, safety officer at the primary school and the intermediate school (and also Third Ward supervisor), read a statement he'd submitted to the Register-Star as a "My View" in which, among other things, he explained the duties of a safety officer. But here are some details of the meeting that may never be published anywhere but here:     
  • At the end of Hallenbeck's presentation, BOE member Peter Meyer asked if he was correct in believing that Hallenbeck was not at the high school when the incidents of violence occurred. The answer was no. Meyer followed up with: "There was a week of pretty intense fighting going on, but you didn't see any of it?" Hallenbeck indicated that he had not.
  • Bob Rochler, the safety officer assigned to the junior high and high school, began his presentation by saying: "Every school has its problems, and every school has its fights. It is the nature of the beast." Major themes of his presentation were that problems begin in the home ("If kids disrespect their parents, it won't be different at school"); having co-principals was a bad idea ("If two principals can't get along, how do you expect kids to get along?); and the Code of Conduct must be enforced ("If you cave to one person, you can kiss the Code of Conduct good-bye"). He also suggested that Hudson Police officers should spend more time in the schools ("After all, the schools are located in the City of Hudson") and that teachers should be mandated to stop fights. (Gossips query: Does this mean martial arts and riot control should be added to the curriculum at every teachers' college?)
  • During the public comment period (when only the fifteen people who had signed up to comment in advance were allowed to speak), audience member Michael Moore started out by recounting a racist incident on the school bus which targeted his biracial son. When he started saying nice things about BOE member Peter Meyer, Safety Officer Bill Hallenbeck was called upon to eject Moore from the microphone. The justification for this action were the ground rules for public comment set by BOE President Emil Meister: Only "observations of a positive nature" would be heard, and speakers were warned that the comment period was "not a soapbox, not a bully pulpit."
The next meeting of the Board of Education takes place on Monday, December 13.                    


  1. Thanks, Carole, for this report. All I can say is that our kids, our teachers, and our staff are much better than what our school board represents. I am embarrassed by what the board did the other other night -- showing an utter disrespect for the public -- and only hope that members of the public come to the next meeting, 12/13, where we will again take up the battle to get our kids a great education, the kind that they -- and taxpayers -- deserve. cheers, --pm

  2. I'd don't live in Hudson and can't make it to every meeting. I'd like to live here and eliminate the commute, it would make my life much easier, but I can't reconcile with putting my two kids into the Hudson school. The school they are in by comparison is quite good over in Ulster County. So another house in Hudson remains empty and the city suffers. The school here is a great detriment to the development of the city. I've been told 25% of the school population, those with parents who can afford it, send their kids to private school. It's a sad situation. It seems to me the only way to correct it is to remove the really problematic, violent kids and educate them at a different location where they can get more developmental help. The system of detention/suspension does not work. It's just training for the penal system.