Featured Story
04/30/18 9:38am
04/30/2018 9:38 AM

To the Editor:

After 50 years of being associated with education in Riverhead Town, I am breaking with the Riverhead Central Faculty Association’s endorsement for the Board of Education.

I am probably the only former member of the Riverhead Board of Education who can see our school district through four different lenses—a teacher for over thirty years, the teacher union president for five years, a community member for 50 years, and a BOE member for eight years, four as president.  I have been on the sending and receiving ends of criticism and kudos for work in each of those areas.  I am proud of the contributions I have made over the years to ensure fair and equitable education for all of the students in this school district.

As I am sure you are aware, I resigned from the BOE last year in protest of its lack of transparency and the lack of regard for New York State Education Law.  At the time I resigned, the President of the BOE, Susan Koukounas, made numerous decisions without input from fellow members.  Several of those decisions involved keeping a secret “personnel file” in the district office.  

Deals were cut behind closed doors. Her attitude was that the other six members, without being consulted, were there to rubber stamp her arrangements made directly with the superintendent.  Her response to my resignation was, “these allegations are untrue, and Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse is having difficulty not being the BOE President.”

I expressed my concerns regarding Ms. Koukounas’ leadership style to her and other members of the board in 2016, hoping for a change.  However, after two years of her presidency, if anything, the situation got worse.

I have expressed my concerns to the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, but am sorry to see that they are endorsing Ms. Koukounas for re-election.  The school district has a new superintendent and we need a new Board of Education — one that is honest with parents and taxpayers, not one that hides its decisions and disregards any concerns brought before it.

I am working with Elizabeth Silva, Amelia Lantz, and Ronald Fisher for election on May 15.  In all my years in education, I feel this is the most important decision we will make.

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse

Featured Story
04/24/18 6:01am

The Riverhead School District will soon post all of its employee contracts on the Board of Education section of its website.

A measure to assure contracts are displayed in a clear and transparent manner was approved unanimously at last week’s Board of Education meeting, after board member Laurie Downs added a walk-on resolution to the agenda.

Before I even got on the board I’ve been asking for transparency,” Ms. Downs said. “We set this goal of transparency, and since I’ve been on the board I’ve asked publicly and I’ve never gotten an answer … People put us here to represent them. They should see what these contracts are. They shouldn’t have to go searching around to SeeThroughNY. It should be right out there. It’s their town, their school district, their money.”

Ms. Downs asked that the entirety of each contract, minus personal information that could lead to an invasion of privacy, be put on the website in PDF form.

The resolution passed with a 6-0 vote last Tuesday. Board member Christopher Dorr was absent from the meeting. 

During the community comment portion prior to the board’s vote, Ms. Downs’ resolution received support from residents Greg Fisher and Joshua Berezny, both of whom are running for school board seats in the upcoming election.

“The issue of the law is this is a public document,” Mr. Fisher said. “It’s already available by law to anybody. This is really, what Ms. Downs is saying, is just procedural to put it easily available to people … I support that.”