Central Islip board president's ouster sought in second petition

School board president Fred Philips listens to questions School board president Fred Philips listens to questions on the upcoming school budget during a school board meeting in Central Islip on March 21, 2011. Photo Credit: John Dunn

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Central Islip's school board president is facing a petition seeking his removal -- the second in as many months -- for failure to protect students after a teacher allegedly assaulted a pupil and made a terroristic threat, according to a petition filed with the state.

School board member Kelly Valentin wrote to the state Department of Education Jan. 4 that president Fred Philips should be held liable under state law for "negligently failing to protect students from criminal acts committed by third parties."

Philips, who has been on the board since 1992, in December was named in a petition filed with the state Education Department by board member Monique McCray. That petition sought his removal, along with several other board members and administrators, for failing to thoroughly investigate the background of a prospective district security guard.

Both petitions say that Philips stymied efforts by board members to learn more about the incidents.

In an answer filed Jan. 23 to Valentin's petition, Philips denied the allegations and asked that it be dismissed. He was "not available" for comment about the petitions, district spokeswoman Barbara LaMonica said in an email.

Philips' attorney, Thomas Volz, who is representing him in both petitions, said there is "no basis" for removing him from office.

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Newsday reported in October that an unidentified Central Islip schoolteacher was placed on administrative leave after being accused of shoving a student. LaMonica said no charges were filed by Suffolk County police against the teacher.

Valentin's petition states that on Sept. 17, the teacher allegedly struck a student in a hallway at Central Islip Senior High School. The teacher said the student accidentally hit him in the groin and caused him to go "into self-defense mode" when he pushed the student into a wall, the petition states. It also states that the teacher said "The only further action would be with an AK-47."

According to Valentin's petition, the same teacher, in September 2011, allegedly told a student: "Why don't you go kill yourself?" and poked other students in the chest.

At a regularly scheduled board meeting on Nov. 12, a letter drafted by Kevin Seaman, the school district's attorney, requesting a follow-up with the police about the teacher was given to Philips, which he "adamantly refused to sign," Valentin wrote in her petition.

"As a board member, I think it's my responsibility, as well as the rest of the board's, to protect these students," Valentin said in an interview.

"They're quick to arrest our children for minor offenses. What makes a teacher so different?" Valentin asked in the interview. "As far as I'm concerned, the board president should have his voice hold weight because he's the board president."

 

 

Central Islip Union Free School District

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Superintendent: Craig Carr

General education budget: $78,311,164

(cost per student: $12,284)

Special education budget: $43,406,223

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(cost per student: $52,934)

Total enrollment: 7,195

Average class size: 25.7 students

Limited English proficient students: 1,658 (26%)

Eligible for free or reduced price lunch: 4,781 (75.6%)

Demographics: Hispanic (64%), Black (25%), White (8%),

Asian (3%)

Attendance rate: 93%

Graduation rate: 66%

Source: NY State Education Department Report Card, 2011-12 (latest data available)

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