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Region 1 residents will conduct forum on school issues
BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON
KENT — A group of concerned residents has decided to hold its own forum for public discussion on Region 1 issues, feeling thwarted by the Region 1 Board of Education.
A meeting is planned Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Cornwall Library at 30 Pine St., Cornwall.
One of the organizers is Edward Epstein, a resident of Kent and a former longtime principal of Kent Center School. He wanted to get the word out early about the planned meeting.
“It is important to discuss issues and share information and it can’t be done at a Region 1 board meeting,” Epstein said.
One of the topics will be a full disclosure of the Pingpank Report, which was created in the fall of 2010, after both the principal and vice principal abruptly resigned weeks before school was to start.
The report was presented to the board in January 2011 and Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain was charged, according to the meeting minutes, to “create plans of action to address the issues cited in the Independent Report,” which was written by Jeffrey C. Pingpank. She has reported verbally about improved relationships within the Central Office, but has not submitted any written reports.
Numerous parents have tried to discuss the report at subsequent Board of Education meetings, but the education board has not taken any action on it.
“The Pingpank report needs be shared with the public,” Epstein said. The 13-page report contains a number of recommendations.
The school district is unique in that it has individual educational boards to govern each of the six elementary schools and a regional board for Housatonic Valley Regional High School. It was the first regional high school established in the state, set up in 1939. The Region 1 Board of Education is composed of a representative from each of the towns, Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon. The vote of each member is weighted by the population of students at the school.
Epstein will serve as moderator of the forum. As someone who has 44 years of connection to the school district he feels well informed about it. He was at Kent Center School for 34 years and 25 of those were as principal. He has been an interim principal in both North Canaan and Falls Village, and he’s worked as a substitute teacher in all seven schools. He hopes to see a number of residents, board of education members and school personnel at the meeting.
They chose to have the meeting in Cornwall because it is a central location. Additional meetings will be held at other locations.
“Some people view the high school as a Falls Village issue. It is much more than that,” he said. “There is concern in all the towns of the way the board and the central office personnel are operating.”