To the Editor,
I have been standing up at the Rye City School District Board of Education meetings religiously the past few months as I am deeply concerned about how our board is handling the case of the reassigned teachers in our district.
I feel compelled to keep speaking up because of the incredible costs associated with this case, the complete lack of respect by our board for the teachers, the silent treatment our board is giving us and because I think the consequences the administration is imposing on the teachers far surpasses what would be reasonable for the allegations.
We will spend close to $400,000 this school year on replacement teachers alone. Where is this money coming from and how is it going to affect our school budget for next year? In November—after six months—one of the teachers was charged. Is our board actually willing to spend what will be at least $250,000 in legal fees on a case that is based on questionable obtained information through interviews with nine and 10 year olds?
The treatment our teachers are receiving can only be described as disrespectful. Mrs. Topol has been teaching at Osborn for 25 years with an outstanding record provided by the school and parents alike. The same applies to Mrs. Mehler, who has been teaching here for 13 years with the same outstanding record. Apart from keeping them reassigned without a mandate from the state, our board is making our teachers report to a tiny room on a daily basis. They have been assigned a task, which is far from appropriate for such highly-skilled teachers. Does this show any respect, care or dignity? Is this how we wish to treat one another in Rye? Locking up our teachers in a rubber room without any information, communication and without actively seeking a resolution is what I consider bullying for grown-ups. It becomes extreme bullying for grown-ups knowing they were told “to suck it up.”
Our administration is currently spreading a culture of fear, unease and silence. This will have a negative impact on the education of our children. We want and need our teachers, administrators and parents to remain critics of our own system to make sure our schools will keep excelling.
All leaders make mistakes, but good leaders admit and correct them. As John Wooden once said, “If you are not making mistakes, you are not doing anything.”
Boukje van den Bosch-Smits,