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Letter to the Editor: In Response to John McGrath

Mineola Board of Education President Christine Napolitano submitted the following letter.

John McGrath at the March 29 Mineola Board of Education meeting.

Some have suggested that as board president I should have stopped the obvious campaigning; I apologize. In the interest of decorum (I am also running for re-election) and important meeting time, I chose to drop rather than challenge the campaign talk. Certain comments made recently by Mr. McGrath, however, must be addressed directly.

Mr. McGrath’s choice to announce his run for the school board as he sat on the dais of the board of education was questionable. The content of the announcement might have included the words “children” and “education.”  Instead, we heard something that amounted to a veteran board member running to settle a score with a new candidate. How disappointing to know that seems to be the real reason behind Mr. McGrath’s candidacy, particularly in light of the many challenges we face in education today.

With regard to Mr. McGrath’s insistence that he was not against consolidation, I find his statements are, at best, an attempt to spin history. It is well documented that the district with the advisement of the Community Committee for Consolidation, made up primarily of 30 community parents and residents.  Over countless hours, many ideas were proposed, investigated, and researched.

Three emerged as solid plans, and in the spirit of compromise, based on solid logic and reason. That’s the difference. Mr. McGrath had an “idea” of . He presented that “idea” to the media with no prior discussion with our community, let alone the Herricks and Mineola Boards of Education or their superintendents. His “idea” was just that, a personal thought. Last year, when I asked him at a public meeting of the board of education to articulate a solid plan, ” Well, the community is still waiting.

One of Mr. McGrath’s statements was particularly bothersome. He claimed that local employers have told him “ graduates require an ‘inordinate’ amount of training.” Training for what, exactly?

McGrath’s comment is anecdotal, irresponsible, and insulting. Ninety-two percent of our students from the attended college immediately upon . A number of our students receive vocational training through excellent programs at BOCES. Mineola Union Free School District college acceptances last year included Harvard, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, John Hopkins, Holy Cross, Columbia, Boston College and Penn State. I challenge Mr. McGrath to provide evidence of such a claim.

It reminded me of a time when Mr. McGrath’s argument for merging with Herricks was that Herricks would get the benefit of our commercial base, while we would get the benefit of the “prestige” of the Herricks school district. Puzzling that a board of education veteran of so many years would speak so poorly of our own students. I am very proud of our students and proud to be a part of the Mineola School District.

Though remarks through the media are certainly one way to campaign, I remind residents that which is a unique opportunity for residents to see and hear all the candidates’ positions.

Christine Napolitano is currently the President of the Mineola Board of Education. The views expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect those of the board of education, its other individual trustees, or the Mineola Union Free School District.

Andrews Rd April 20, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I was at the meeting years ago when the hampton students were urging the board to "keep Hampton open". McGrath suddenly made a motion to keep all schools open. I was shocked and annoyed. After months of studies and planning, he wanted to be a hero. I knew then, it was time for him to go. Sorry, time to go. And yes, those recent comments were insulting to the entire school community. Do tell- who are the local employers that say our students are "ill prepared". I don't believe those words were ever muttered as he states.
Sharon Demelas April 20, 2012 at 04:41 PM
So as not to go against the rules for posting comments and have my post censored, I will put my filter on. For someone who sits up at that dais looking bored and detached at any school board meeting that I have attended and I am certain at the ones I have not, I can't help but wonder why Mr. McGrath wants to serve on the Mineola School District Board of Education. I always feel as if we are taking up his time and that he has something better or more important to do at the moment. He seems more like a "bored" member than a "board" member, meandering around and leaving the room while important issues are being discussed, yawning, leaning back in his chair with his arms behind his head like he is about to get ready to put his feet up on the desk and nap. I cant help but wonder what his interest of being on the board is. I am uncertain as to what Mr. McGrath's vested interest in our district is except one that puts another line on his resume. It clearly is not to help Mineola school district soar into the future. It seems to me his only interest is to impede any progress made or to be made in the future of this district. His big contribution to the whole reconfiguration process was "Herneola" which frankly sounds more like an ailment than a solution.
Sharon Demelas April 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM
(continued) Despite his smug efforts in the past to slow down or halt progress in our district, Mineola has persevered and has produced thousands of bright and well rounded young men and women who have gone on and made a difference in the world we live in. We are always proud of their accomplishments we read or hear about. I believe our school district with all of its wonderful programming and technology is turning out students who are far beyond ready for the world than we ever were. Mr. McGrath sits among the board like a thorny rose amongst a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Nobody likes the roses in the bouquet when they start to die the quickest and begin to smell rancid. I for one like to remove the ugly dried up flowers so they doesn't ruin the rest of the bouquet. I think that after 12 years of his time serving on the board this community deserves someone who is passionate about this district, our kids and progress. Artie and Chris, you certainly have my votes. Mr. McGrath never shows any interest in any events our district holds. I personally have never seen him at any event besides a board meeting or meeting of the sort. Oh wait, I am wrong. I stand corrected, he attended the iPad demonstration given by the Jackson Avenue fifth grade last year. That's right, that's because it was 30 minutes prior to a board meeting. Gee thanks for taking an interest!
Sharon Demelas April 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
(continued)Mr. McGrath is like a dandelion amidst a beautifully green lawn and I say it's high time we take out the weed killer and destroy the weed before it does any more damage.
Rosie April 21, 2012 at 05:58 PM
As a MHS graduate, I take great offense to Mr. McGrath's comments. I received wonderful preparation there for life outside the walls of MHS. My classmates and I have all gone on to thrive and succeed in a diverse range of careers, which would not have been possible without all of the wonderful guidance we received from the excellent teachers and administrators at Mineola. While we should always be working to improve and build our schools and community, his comments are irresponsible and detrimental. I don't understand how insulting one's constituents and their children will win him any popularity. Best of luck to him after those comments.

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