Penn Yan School Board disputes 'exoneration' remark

Gwen Chamberlain

Penn Yan Central School District Board of Education President Jeff Morehouse issued a statement late last week disputing a comment made during the Jan. 23 board meeting.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, David Willson stood and said he was pleased "the board of education has exonerated Chuck Roach." He continued by questioning the decision to pay an employee to stay home, calling that "a waste of taxpayer funds."

No one reacted to Willson's comment during the meeting, but when contacted about the comment later, Superintendent David Hamilton promised a statement. A brief document, released the following day said, "The Penn Yan Board of Education has not 'exonerated' Mr. Roach, as was stated by a community member during public participation at the Jan. 23 board meeting. As this is a matter relating to specific personnel, the board cannot make any further public statements regarding this issue at this time."

Aside from saying the personnel issue is not resolved, Hamilton declined to comment further.

In December, the board adopted a motion to eliminate Roach's position and terminate his employment on June 30. Roach's status at the school district has been in question since Nov. 8 when a brief memo to district staff from Superintendent David Hamilton stated, "Due to unexpected circumstances, Mr. Chuck Roach will be out of the District."

Eliminating the position was a recommendation from a 2012 study of the Penn Yan, Marcus Whitman and Dundee districts.

An attempt to reach Roach for comment was unsuccessful.

Willson, who attends most of the board's regular meetings, launched an unsuccessful bid to be elected to the board last year.

Other business on the board's agenda for Jan. 23 included:

• BUDGET — Hamilton said a budget forum will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 before the regular board meeting. The forum will give people an opportunity to meet in small groups with school officials to discuss the budgetary challenges the district faces. Hamilton said while the governor's budget was just released, and there are many negotiations to come, the prediction that Penn Yan will receive about a 1 percent increase is a good estimate. "I think we're going to move forward with our budget planning," he told the board.

• SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM: Richard Shaver presented the Special Education annual report, noting that all special education classes in the Penn Yan Elementary School have been eliminated, and all pupils are integrated in regular classrooms. He also described how the school district is working with The Arc of Yates for vocational planning, and with the Dundee and Marcus Whitman Districts to establish programs for students who have been going to BOCES programs.

• OVERNIGHT TRIPS: The board approved four overnight field trips: Varsity boys lacrosse to Lakeland Panas High School and the U.S. Military Academy March 31 to April 2; Varsity baseball to Vero Beach, Fla. April 1 - 5; Varsity softball to Myrtle Beach, S.C. March 29-April 6 and Penn Yan Academy Debate Club to New York City March 1- 3.