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Comsewogue school board won't discuss scrapping proposal to refuse state exams

Plans for the Comsewogue school board to discuss

Plans for the Comsewogue school board to discuss a proposal allowing the district to refuse to administer state exams this spring were scuttled on advice from legal counsel, Superintendent Joseph Rella said Thursday. Credit: News 12

Administrators in the Comsewogue school district will not say why they decided against considering a proposal to refuse to administer state exams in April.

A resolution on the matter was supposed to be discussed at a board meeting Thursday night but was pulled "on the advice of our legal counsel," Superintendent Joseph Rella said.

He said the board could consider it in the future but would not elaborate further on the matter.

The New York State Education Department said Thursday that the tests are mandated by law and that any school board member or trustee who refuses to administer the Common Core-themed math, science and English Language Arts exams could be removed from office by the education commissioner.

The Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District, north of Buffalo, voted in favor of such a resolution Tuesday. The department Thursday sent the board president a letter saying the district would risk losing federal money in categories that last year brought in $1.1 million for the school system in addition to some state aid.

"I expect that you and the other members of your Board will comply with the law, as it is your sworn duty to do so as members of a board of education, and administer the grade 3-8 assessments," wrote senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner.

Beth Dimino, a Comsewogue science teacher and the president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, was disappointed in the move.

"I believe strongly that the third- through eighth-grade tests are abusive to children," she said. "If there was a way to get rid of them, I'm absolutely for that."

But, she said, it would not be worth the removal of the superintendent and the trustees.

"Joe Rella and the school board are absolutely worth saving," Dimino said. "They are vital, decent, honorable people."

Dimino said it's undemocratic, unconstitutional and a reflection of the governor's "bully tactics" that the district would be discouraged from even considering the measure.

"It's deplorable that they would in any way stifle conversation at a local level," she said. "Once again, we are talking about the removal of local control."

Dimino has refused to proctor the exams. Rella has said he supports her decision.


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