Disorder Ensues At Locust Valley BOE Meeting

Superintendent Kenneth E. Graham presenting an investment plan at the BOE meeting.
(Photo by Natalia Ventura)

The Locust Valley Board of Education (BOE) meeting was held on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the shared Middle School and High School auditorium. After standing for the “Pledge of Allegiance,” the meeting started with the Student Representative’s Report.

The Student Government Officers announced the Intergenerational Dinner was being held on March 27 at 4 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. A March 4 blood drive in the mini theater was also announced.

BOE President Brian T. Nolan then read from a prepared statement. “Having grown up here in Locust Valley, for 42 years I’ve lived in this community. I’ve stayed here to raise my family, and I’ve taken various volunteer positions throughout Locust Valley. I think it’s clear that this community holds a special place in my heart, as it does for all of our board members. It is the people and families that make this community feel like home.”

He added, “Lately, as in many communities, we have seen division amongst ourselves. I know we respect each other, and I want to remind everyone that such respect is how we come together through difficult times. There are understandably different opinions on many topics, and of course everyone has a right to their own opinions…In order for this community to remain the special place that it always has been, we will need to work together rather than push each other away.”

Following Nolan’s statement, the floor was opened up for public comments.

The New York State Board of Regents passed a regulation that allows registered professional nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines with a non-patient specific order issued by a licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner on Feb. 14. This will become effective March 2, according to Locust Valley resident Tara Jewell.

“Legislators in New York have bills they are trying to pass,” Jewell said. “Assembly bill A3192, same as S3041, and this bill will remove parental consent requirements for students 14 [and older] to get immunizations. Bill A8378 is to mandate COVID-19 shots for school attendance.”

“I would like a detailed, transparent plan in writing prior to March 2 so we know what to expect if our children show up to school from there on,” Jewell continued. “District enrollment will depend on this, and I would also like to request to have the teachers close the windows on cold days. Kids are freezing in class, there is no need to have the windows open since COVID-19 isn’t spreading in schools and you all know it’s true.”

“Since August 2021, I have been actively fighting alongside other parents against the illegal and unlawful mandates,” Bayville resident Dawn Cluff commented. “I am not against masks or vaccines, I am against being forced to do something that I don’t think is right for me or my kids. This is about choice and the freedom to choose. This is about bodily autonomy, which is being violated by the school district each and every day they force children to wear a medical device on their face.”

She continued, “The purpose of the state isn’t to grant rights, it’s to protect them. Our most important right as humans is the right to bodily autonomy. Let’s discuss the grant you accepted, the American Rescue Plan. The grant with the terms and conditions that you must comply with existing and unknown future directives from the state. I don’t like the sound of that, especially when Governor Hochul is talking about mandating the vaccine next year,” Cluff added.

Some Locust Valley parents displayed their opinions to the board at the podium within the given three-minute period for each speaker. However, that was not without any disorder.

A Bayville resident left the premises after the board denied her request for more time at the podium. Speakers were also periodically interrupted by those seated, especially by residents with an opposing opinion. Board members repeatedly asked for a respectful environment. Even District Clerk Susan Hammerschmidt attempted to leave the auditorium due to the behavior of some in attendance.

Locust Valley student Josephine DeBono also shared her comments with the board.

“My brother is severely autistic, because of this he cannot wear a mask due to his sensory issues and he physically cannot leave it on,” DeBono said. “We were almost unable to get him vaccinated. There’s a large population of students in this school in the Life Skills program, with needs for Special Education that I feel like we’re excluding from the conversation when we talk about the risks of unmasking the entire school population. We’re not talking about the consequences of having everyone at school suddenly not wearing masks.”

DeBono continued, “If we have to quarantine again because cases go up, sure it might mean online learning for some of us. For kids like my brother, it means regressing in his abilities to talk, it means not being able to leave the house and I want to know how the board is taking the needs of special needs students into their decisions when they’re talking about taking off the masks and parental choice. Talking about your right to now wear a mask, what about my brother’s right to stay alive? I feel like that’s a conversation not being had,” DeBono concluded.

Superintendent Kenneth E. Graham recognized varsity basketball player Lindsay Hogan and her “career milestone” of accumulating 1,000 points this basketball season. He included Sophia Del Giudice, who earned All-County honors in the Shot Put event.

The district has added a Girl’s Flag Football Team to their athletic department this year. In a program sponsored by the New York Jets, Locust Valley High School is joining the NFL’s Girls Flag Football League. The high school is among eight Nassau County schools participating in this pilot program. Nike, and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), are also joining the Jets with sponsoring the program by providing funding and uniforms.

On Feb. 1, the Jets held a kick-off event at MetLife Stadium. A student from each participating high school represented their district and celebrated this expansion. Locust Valley High School junior Danielle Jauregui represented her school with her father and Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Danielle Turner.

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