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Wading River scout leaders being replaced amid ‘safety’ concerns; scoutmaster says no reason given for ouster

11/23/2015 9:00 AM |

Boy Scouts of America Troop 94 Wading RIver

The Boy Scout oath features three promises: a duty to God and country, to other people and to self. It’s a scout leader’s responsibility to uphold that code.

In Wading River Troop 94, just who will lead the scouts moving forward has suddenly come into question. 

Wading River Fire Department Inc., charter sponsor of the troop, has called a meeting for Tuesday evening to discuss the replacement of Troop 94 scoutmaster Raymond “Pat” Clancy and committee chairman Joel Bornstein, citing apparent concerns over the welfare of the scouts.

“As the troop sponsor, we must be certain that every child is respected and safe guarded,” Wading River fire commissioner and department member  Mike Harrigan wrote in an email to troop leaders, parents and scouts. “We must ensure that all leaders are working together and focused with the best interest of the scouts. The Boy Scouts of America has set aside strict guidelines and rules for its members to follow to always ensure the best environment and safety for each scout.”

Tuesday’s meeting will allow parents and leaders to select a new chairman and scoutmaster, Mr. Harrigan wrote.

In a message on its website, Troop 94 leadership is calling for its members to attend the meeting to support Mr. Clancy

A retired FDNY lieutenant who has been active in the troop for more than a decade and took over as scoutmaster in 2009 following the death of longtime troop leader Dr. Richard Pohl, Mr. Clancy, 60, said he learned from fire district officials that he is being dismissed at the recommendation of the Boy Scouts of America’s Suffolk County Council. He said he was given no reason for the change.

“I’m a little distraught,” he said Sunday. “This is my reputation. I feel like I’ve been slandered. And for what? I don’t know.”

When reached by telephone Saturday evening, Mr. Harrigan declined to comment on the reason for the dismissal, saying it’s an “internal matter.” He said he sent the email at the request of Mike Hammer, president of the Wading River Fire Department.

“It’s a restructuring meeting,” he said, referring a reporter to the Suffolk County Council for additional information.

Council president James Montalto offered the following emailed statement Sunday: “Adult leadership positions in the Boy Scouts of America are a privilege and require adherence to the rules and regulations of BSA National. Unit leadership is regularly changed based upon what is best needed to serve the youth of our community.”

Mr. Montalto and other council leaders did not respond to a follow-up email asking what rule or regulations had been broken.

Mr. Clancy said he believes most of the scouts and their parents want him to remain as scoutmaster. He expects them to attend Tuesday’s meeting along with other community leaders and past members of the troop.

“All the scouts are in an uproar,” he said. “All the parents are saying they’re leaving. I’m asking them to hold on to see what happens, but it looks like [the fire district] has already made the call. I’m out.”

The fire district’s email states that the meeting will be held at the firehouse and that council leaders will be present. Troop leaders have asked that the meeting be moved to Wading River Elementary School, where the troop regularly meets and more parking is available.  It was unclear where the meeting will ultimately be held and who will be allowed to attend.

Caption: Boy Scouts of America stamp 1960 (Phoebe Baker/Flickr).

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