BETHLEHEM-WOODBURY — During the Region 14 Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, September 7, the board announced a special meeting and hearing to be held the following week, Monday, September 13.
Both the special meeting and the hearing will be related to termination proceedings against School Superintendent Joseph Olzacki. The 6 p.m. special meeting will likely be an executive session.
The 7 p.m. hearing will be convened and held in open session, but portions may be conducted in executive session as well. Jim Crocker, vice chairman, said the board had planned to conduct the hearing earlier this summer, but it had been difficult to settle on a date.
Earlier in the September 7 meeting, after hearing reports of how well school opening had gone, Mr. Crocker spent a few minutes talking about the mission and goals of the district. In particular, he said the district strives to maintain a high performance environment while also remaining cognizant of cost and the burden to taxpayers. He spoke briefly about the need to provide support for staff while also maintaining transparency.
His comments were followed by Privilege of the Floor, during which several residents stood to speak at the podium about various issues, including the mandate that all students wear masks.
Most speakers were opposed to a mask mandate for students, with arguments ranging from a lack of evidence that they work to protect children to the harm that children may experience from not being able to see a teacher’s face during reading instruction or to see a fellow classmate’s facial expression during social interactions.
Board member Tikva Rose asked Mr. Crocker if she could take a moment to address some of those concerns, saying that the state dictates district policy on public safety issues. “Masks are mandated; we have absolutely no choice,” she said.
Two speakers questioned seating arrangements for kindergarten students at Bethlehem Elementary School, saying their children were being asked to sit on the floor instead of in a chair before a desk. One parent offered to buy her child a desk and bring it to school if necessary.
Other parents spoke out about the investigation into Mr. Olzacki’s handling of the vaccine clinic held earlier this year and the addition of a state-mandated high school elective on minority contributions to American history.
In other action, the board approved a new contract for paraprofessionals, with a term of July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024.