Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

Judge’s Airport Decision Expected Friday

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Takeoff and landing activity at the East Hampton Town Airport on May 22nd, 2015

The East Hampton Town Board has postponed enacting airport restrictions until Judge Joanna Seybert makes her decision on a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, which she said she would do this Friday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

 Many residents from Manhattan to Montauk are awaiting the Friday decision of U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, who said she would rule on a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed by members of the aviation industry against the Town of East Hampton.

The town board has so far held off implementing three historic airport restrictions it adopted in April out of respect for the judicial process, but, both times that the judge has postponed her decision, the town board has released statements saying it “remains confident that it will prevail in the litigation.”

Just days after the town board adopted two curfews and a restriction on the number of permitted operations by noisy aircraft at the East Hampton Airport during the summer, a group of helicopter operators and their allies filed two suits and a request for a temporary restraining order against the town. One of the suits claimed the town didn’t have the authority to enact the three restrictions, while another said that the new rules would cause irreparable injury to the airport, the large helicopter charter companies and local aviators.

On the other hand, hundreds of residents from as far away as the North Fork have for years been complaining about the constant noise from low-flying aircraft in and out of the East Hampton Airport at all times of day and night.  Despite attempts to change routes or the promises of the aviation industry to comply with routes and minimum altitudes, some of these residents say that traffic this year is only getting worse.

Kathleen Cunningham, chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition, said this week: “The weekends have been terrible,” this year. “The other day I must have counted 20 flights overhead in as many minutes,” she said.

Jemille Charlton, the East Hampton Airport manager, said this week that so far this season, “It’s been pretty much status quo.” The levels of route- and altitude compliance he said have been relatively high so far this year, but added that the number of complaints is  “still very high.”

“We’re very eager, desperate I might say, for these restrictions to deliver some relief,” Ms. Cunningham said.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley preemptively introduced a law on Tuesday that would limit the number of landings at the village’s helipad on Meadow Lane, ahead of Judge Seybert’s decision on Friday.

“The reasoning behind that is that we have had a 44-percent increase as compared to 2014,” Mayor Epley said on Wednesday. “If the East Hampton restrictions are held up in court, then we’ll have a substantial increase, more than 44 percent,” he said.

While the number of complaints hasn’t increased astronomically, Mayor Epley is more concerned about the safety at the heliport.

“Our helipad is located at the end of Meadow Lane—it’s a dead-end, two-lane road,” he explained. “It’s unmanned and cell phones don’t work there. He added that the village, like others on the East End, is supported by volunteer medical services and that increased services would create more of a burden on the area.

Mayor Epley opened and closed the public hearing on the new law last night without a vote on the law, and said he is waiting to hear Judge Seybert’s decision before asking the village board to adopt the new rules. If the judge sides with the town, Mr. Epley said it was likely he would call a special meeting to vote on the law ahead of the regularly scheduled July 9 meeting.

The East Hampton Town Board will post any decisions about the airport to the website htoplanning.com .

Wildlife Activists Discuss Alternatives to Sterilization

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Wild deer in the woods in Amagansett, N.Y. on June 23rd, 2015

A wild deer in the woods in Amagansett. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

The people of East Hampton are divided and conflicted about what to do with white-tailed deer. While many say that reducing the herd could lead to a decrease in the instances of Lyme disease and would slash the number of car accidents, the general consensus at a forum hosted by the East Hampton Group for Wildlife on Thursday was that the deer problem has been exaggerated and should be reevaluated.

Larry Penny, East Hampton Town’s former natural resources director, kicked off the evening by going through a slideshow of various wooded areas on the East End.

“The deer don’t actually eat the understory to the degree they say they do,” Mr. Penny explained, while pointing out particularly lush huckleberry and blueberry plants in a forest in East Hampton. “Trying to find somewhere without a lot of understory if really tough,” he said, “Nobody’s eating it around here right now,” he added.

Randy Parsons, a former East Hampton Town Board member, gave a brief presentation on 4-poster programs, which he described as “Frontline for deer.” The feeding stations, he explained, transfer permetherin onto the deer as they eat, killing the ticks that try to feed on them.

“I do think if you treat certain areas, for example Barcelona Neck, you could substantially reduce the tick population because the deer herd there probably live there,” he said. He said that there is money in the state budget for East Hampton to buy the bait stations, but it is still trying to raise private funds to cover the cost of the maintenance and operation of the 4-poster program.

The Group for Wildlife announced the forum soon after several deer, which were supposedly sterilized in East Hampton Village through a program run by the organization, While Buffalo, which works with municipalities to control wildlife populations,  died from complications giving birth. Much of the conversation at the forum centered on the controversial sterilization program and its alternatives.

Ellen Crain, an experienced pediatrician and the wife of Bill Crain, the wildlife group’s founder, went through some of the details of deer contraception which many say is safer than sterilization because it’s reversible, temporary and does not require surgical intervention.

Ilissa Meyer with the Equine Veterinarian’s Group, and Dr. Paul Hollander, a small animal vet, said that the village’s project was concerning because there did not seem to be sufficient follow up.

Dr. Tony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo, said over the phone this week that he personally travelled to the East End after sterilized doe number 57 died while trying to give birth to two stillborn fawns.

“We always follow animals for at least a week,” Mr. DeNicola said of the typical process following the ovarectomies the organization performs. “Because if they’re going to die, you’re going to see in that week that they have problems.

The body of the first tagged deer to die following a stillbirth this year, doe number 57, was taken to the town dump before anyone thought to have the state Department of Environmental Conservation perform a necropsy.

A sterilized deer that died in similar circumstances a few weeks ago was taken to be necropsied by the DEC almost two weeks ago. Representatives from the DEC did not provide any information about the results of the necropsy by the time of this paper’s publication.

While some wildlife activists have said that the ovarectomies likely caused the birth defects and eventual deaths, professionals say that they cannot understand how this surgery would have affected deer in this way.

Dr. Paul Curtis, a wildlife specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, said this week that he had been involved in dozens and dozens of deer sterilization programs and does not see the connection between the surgery and the deaths.

Dr. Curtis did point out that Long Island soil is low in selenium, and that selenium deficiencies can lead to high numbers of stillbirths in livestock and, possibly, deer.

Ginnie Frati, the executive director of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, said over the phone this week that there is in fact a selenium deficiency here in the wild. Over the years, she said, the center has probably received about 10 calls over the years of stillbirths. In fact, she said, she saw an untagged deer running along Noyac Road a few weeks ago that appeared to be trying to give birth to a stillborn fawn.

“I personally wish they would leave the deer alone,” she added. “I think this is extreme and it’s very, very expensive.”

 

 

 

Old-Timey Medicine

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Last weekend, the East Hampton Farm Museum opened a new exhibition that takes a deeper look into the lives of Bonackers around the turn of the 20th century, specifically, the state of medicine and medical care in the town between 1898 and 1930.

“It is actually pretty cool,” Museum director Prudence Carabine said this week. “We wanted to focus on the Bonac population, and what we discovered was that there were several very fine doctors, including Dr. David Edwards, who was the son of a sea captain,” she said.

Supervisor Cantwell told a story about Dr. Edwards at a work session on Tuesday when Ms. Carabine told the board about the new show: His mother broke her arm as a girl, and when Dr. Edwards, a keen outdoorsman, drove her to the hospital, he stopped at every field along the way to check for pheasants.

Ms. Carabine said that poring through the Trustees’ Board of Health records from the early 20th century proved fascinating and has revealed many things that had been forgotten over the years.

“We’re basically telling the story of what happened as we find it, with the cases of illness on North Main Street and Cedar Street,” Ms. Carabine said. “It was a wonderful time and it was a horrible time.” One of the things she has recently learned was that a typhoid outbreak at Theodore Roosevelt’s Camp Wyckoff in Montauk spread to the civilians of East Hampton and resulted in a near-epidemic.

The exhibition, which will be on show through August, will also delve into the life of Dr. Huntington, who treated Huntington’s Chorea in East Hampton during the beginning of the century. Also, Ms. Carabine explained, that with 42 dairies in the town, many of the doctors had to double as vets.

In addition to the doctor’s bags, snake bite kits and medical supplies on display, the museum is also making a map of the area, which will show what diseases which families contracted between the years of 1898 and 1915.

“It’s so illustrative,” Ms. Carabine said.

The East Hampton Farm Museum is located in the old Barnes-Lester farmhouse on the corner of Cedar and North Main Streets in East Hampton. It is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon, the farm will host a brunch (hard-boiled, free-range eggs, pastries, fruit, tea and coffee) to raise money for the museum. The brunch costs $15 per person and is free for children.

East End Motorists: Make Way For Turtles

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A painted turtle buried her clutch of eggs in a backyard in Montauk last week. 

Over the next few weeks, motorists on the East End should keep an eye out for wandering turtles, which will be moving around their territories during their peak nesting season, this month.

Melanie Meade, at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) explained this week that the painted, box and snapping turtles who live in and around local ponds are moving away from the water at this time of the year to nest and lay their eggs. Once they have laid their eggs, she said, they may return to lay more, or else they will leave the eggs to hatch on their own.

Usually in April, or whenever the air temperature gets warm, local turtles wake up from hibernation and feast on pond insects and plants before getting to work looking for a mate. Once they do, the female turtles travel great turtle distances to lay a clutch of around 20 eggs. Snapping turtles, the official turtle of the great State of New York, will travel up to 100 feet to find the perfect nesting spot, and so the eggs can be found a surprising distance from waterways.

Many turtles, specifically box turtles which have larger territories than many of their reptilian relatives, are killed by cars each year as they move around their stomping grounds.

“If people want to help, use great caution,” Ms. Meade said. “Carry them across the road in the direction where they’re already going,” she said, because otherwise the slow but stubborn terrapins will just make the treacherous trek again.

There are turtles all over the East End of Long Island, Ms. Meade said, but often hang out near wooded areas close to fields. Box turtles are often seen crossing the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike because of the many temporary seasonal ponds along the road, which is adjacent to the Long Pond Green Belt.

“If you have seen them there in the past, they’ll be there again,” she added.

Uber Taxis Out Of East Hampton Town

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A line of Uber cars parked in Montauk early one summer morning this year.

By Mara Certic

Uber, the ride-sharing mobile app service, suspended all operations in East Hampton Town last week, following a meeting with East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell and code enforcement officials.

The meeting, which resulted in the company halting their East Hampton service, was called after over 20 Uber drivers were charged with unclassified misdemeanors for operating as taxis without the required town license over Memorial Day weekend.

Taxi law was changed in East Hampton over a year ago, Mr. Cantwell explained in a phone interview this week, to require operators not only to be licensed, but also to have a physical address within the town.

More than two dozen summonses were issued to Uber drivers a few weeks ago, who Mr. Cantwell said informed the town that the company had told them to go to Montauk and operate, and that Uber would pay all the fines they incurred.

“Clearly an effort was made to confront the town over the law that was adopted over a year ago,” he said.

The town’s taxi law, Mr. Cantwell explained, is detailed and has many stipulations. The law lists the many legal duties of cab drivers, which include: keeping the vehicle clean, maintaining a written record of all trips, not idling the engine for more than five minutes, and thoroughly searching for lost and misplaced items at the end of each fare. The legislation also requires the business name and telephone number to be lettered on the side of the vehicle, and states that the fares must be conspicuously posted in the cab and a copy of them must be given to the town clerk.

“We’re trying to insure through the licensing that the vehicles are safe and that there are some consumer protection elements in the law,” Mr. Cantwell explained.

Shortly after the company agreed to suspend all of their services within the town (which in a map they delineated as including a small portion of Shelter Island and all of Gardiner’s Island), the mobile app service sent out an e-mail blast to all of its riders, informing them that Supervisor Cantwell had banned Uber with “new rules [that] would require every single Uber driver-partner to have an office in East Hampton to continue to hold their license, which is impossible for our partners.”

“The purpose of this law is not singling out Uber in any way,” Supervisor Cantwell said this week. “They just don’t want to comply with the code,” he added.

The e-mail blast from Uber maintained that without their services, the people of East Hampton “will be unable to get reliable, safe rides in any part of East Hampton out to Montauk, effective immediately.”

With 230 legally licensed taxi operators within the Town of East Hampton, Supervisor Cantwell said that he had “no idea” what Uber’s implication was about the other taxis in East Hampton but said, “We are attempting to enforce our law, regardless of who the operator or owner is.”

According to their website, Uber still operates within the town of Southampton, where the taxi law does not require operators to have local addresses. Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said that the main difference between the laws in the two towns is the local office requirement.

Uber operators, she said, would still have to be licensed by the Town of Southampton to operate legally there. A representative from Uber did not respond to a request for comment by this paper’s publication.

Jen Garvey, chief of staff for Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, said on Wednesday morning that she was unaware of a similar problem in Southampton Town, adding, “It’s a different situation in East Hampton.”

Supervisor Cantwell said that while this is an East Hampton issue, “Montauk is the center of the problem.”

In the five years that Tom Maira has worked for Montauk’s Moko Taxi, he’s driven over 80,000 miles in 6,000 hours, he said. While Uber has been driving in East Hampton since 2012, he said that he didn’t really notice many of their cars until this year. “Even last summer they were out here, but there were maybe like ten of them. It was more out-of-town taxis that were a problem then,” he said.

At the end of his Friday night shift over Memorial Day weekend this year, Mr. Maira said he drove through town. At 5:30 a.m.on Saturday morning, he counted at least 30 Uber cars parked in town with drivers asleep inside.

“They want to talk about safe and reliable rides, how about cleanliness?” Mr. Maira said, mentioning that a quick Google search brings up plenty of articles about the questionable behavior of Uber drivers worldwide.

“And maybe they are safe and reliable, but I don’t think they have cameras and who knows if their employees are screened,” he said, adding that those trying to work for Moko go through vigorous background checks and are often given feedback.

“It’s ridiculous that Uber tried to play the victim. You have 40 billion dollars – register your cabs, and run your business responsibly and legally,” he said.

“If other people are going to come out here, live out here, pay rent and be part of Montauk that’s fine, I don’t mind,” said Mr. Maira. “But I don’t like when people come from out of town, especially when they’re illegal, just to make money and then leave at the end of the weekend. It’s like a robbery.”

 

Uber Operations Suspended in East Hampton Town

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Uber agreed to suspend operations in East Hampton Town immediately. The town said it will not tolerate noncompliance with the law, or drivers taking up valuable parking spaces in the business districts. 

Uber, the ride-sharing mobile app service, has agreed to suspend all operations in East Hampton Town following a meeting today with East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell and code enforcement officials, according to a press release.

The meeting was called after over 20 Uber drivers were charged with unclassified misdemeanors for operating as taxis without the required town license. Over the holiday weekend, those believed to be Uber drivers were observed sleeping in their cars and disobeying traffic laws.

“Our local law recognizes that the transportation of persons by motor vehicles available for hire in the Town of East Hampton is a vital service which must be licensed and regulated in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of individuals using such services and the community as a whole,” said Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, who acts as the town board’s liaison for taxi issues.

“Even in Uber’s absence from the market, there are more than 220 licensed taxis and vehicles for hire and other public transportation options available in the Town of East Hampton ready to provide services to those in need of a ride,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

“We applaud Uber for taking the responsible step of suspending their operations until such time that they comply with the Town’s licensing requirements,” said Supervisor Cantwell. “The Town will not tolerate any vehicles not complying with our regulations, nor will we allow drivers to be sleeping in vehicles for hire, obstructing traffic and taking up limited parking spaces in hamlet centers that should be available for residents and visitors,” he added.

Federal Court Delays Airport Decision Again

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Takeoff and landing activity at the East Hampton Town Airport on May 22nd, 2015

Helicopters landing at East Hampton Airport over Memorial Day Weekend. Photo by Michael Heller.

The federal court last Wednesday, June 3, issued an order extending the deadline to rule on a temporary restraining order that would block the enforcement of three airport restrictions adopted by East Hampton Town in April, according to a release issued by town.

A group of aviators who oppose the laws filed for a temporary restraining order shortly after the town board adopted three airport restrictions. On May 18, Judge Joanna Seybert requested three weeks to review the case, but last Wednesday, she extended that deadline to Friday, June 26, “citing the complexity of the issues involved,” the release states.

On Tuesday, June 9, Congressman Lee Zeldin successfully added an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations Bill to prohibit the FAA from instituting civil action against the town of East Hampton.

“Congressman Zeldin supports local control,” Supervisor Cantwell said in a release, “and I want to thank him by sending a clear message to the FAA: Stand down.” Supervisor Cantwell called on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to follow suit and support the amendment in the U.S. Senate.

Residents Cry Foul Over Dead, Pregnant Sterilized Deer; Scientists Say It’s “Normal”

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Photo courtesy Facebook.

Photo courtesy Facebook.

By Mara Certic

Last week, a Facebook post recounting the graphic story of a sterilized doe who died after trying to give birth to two stillborn fawns was shared over 400 times by East End residents, many of whom feared the sterilization procedure caused the birth defect and eventual death.

Scientists from White Buffalo, the non-profit organization hired to conduct the ovarectomies this winter, said there is no medical reason why the sterilization would affect a doe in this way, and that, although a horrific sight to see, a breech birth of stillborn twins is a “normal” event in the wild.

“I’ve been working on deer for 25 years, working closely with them. I’ve seen them have mummified fetuses that kill them, I’ve seen mutated deer. These are normal outlier events that happen in nature,” explained Dr. Anthony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo. “It just so happens that when it’s in suburbia, people see it and it doesn’t seem like the wild.”

On Sunday, May 24, wildlife rescue workers were called to the aid of a distressed doe in the backyard of a house on Newtown Lane in East Hampton Village. The deer had large number 57s attached to her ears, marking her as one of the does sterilized in the village program last winter.

When Jane Gill and Dell Cullum, both volunteers at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, arrived at the scene, the pregnant doe was trying to give birth to a fawn that was clearly dead, its head hanging out of the birth canal and covered in flies.

“I’ll never have that visual out of my mind,” Ms. Gill said last week.  She, Mr. Cullum and his wife tried to calm the deer by gently stroking her and speaking softly while they got in touch with a veterinarian to ask how to proceed. Vets reached by phone could not or would not come to the scene, and eventually, Mr. Cullum took it upon himself to try to remove the stillborn fawn to try to relieve some of the doe’s pain.

He pulled out the two baby deer, both about two feet long and fully formed with spotted fur, and both, badly mutated, he said. The doe died about 15 minutes after the two fawns were removed.

“I threw them back into the weeds because of how disgustingly mutated they were. There were features in the deer that were not normal, on both of them,” Mr. Cullum said. “Both of them had an appearance in their mouths that was not normal or a part of decomposition, and there was a feature of the second deer that was a complete mutation,” he said, but would not go into further detail.

“I’ve seen deer abort and I’ve seen deer have babies. When they abort they’re usually small. In many cases, the aborted fetus could be just bigger than a chipmunk. These weren’t physically correct and they were stillborn,” Mr. Cullum said.

“I’ve spoken to several vets around the country, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I’ve gotten all sorts of different stories,” said Mr. Cullum, who has worked with animals for years, as a wildlife photographer and as a live-trapper. “I don’t have a degree in this and I don’t pretend to, I just feel that my instinct in having much experience with wildlife is that this just wasn’t one of those normal things.”

Vickie DeNicola, from White Buffalo, the company that performed the sterilizations, said that she and the vets cannot think of any situation where the ovarectomy performed on the deer could have resulted in these mutated, stillborn babies.

A requirement of a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit for the program states that there must be a licensed veterinarian on the team sterilizing the deer.

“When we do a surgery, we’re removing the ovaries, we’re not removing the uterus,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Newman, a veterinarian who works with White Buffalo. “We do this all the time for dogs and cats and have great results. When we do this with deer, a lot of them are already pregnant,” he explained.

If the fetus is very small, he explained, it will be resorbed or expelled from the deer and the pregnancy will be terminated. According to Dr. DeNicola, studies show that past the 150-day mark, fetuses can be viable, the placenta will begin to produce progesterone and the pregnancy will be completed to term.

Hearing about what happened, Dr. DeNicola said that it sounds as if the fawns died because they were in a breech position. “It’s like a breeched birth in a person, you have to have medical attention,” he said. “If you look at cattle and horses, if it’s head first, vet help is usually needed.” In his opinion, Dr. Newman said it was possible that the fawns had died from complications of the breeched birth a few days before and had begun to decompose inside the doe, causing sepsis in her.

When it comes to the deformities, without photographs it is difficult for the vets to establish what happened. None of the drugs used have ever had any correlation with congenital defects, Dr. Newman said. He said that what looked like deformities could very well have been post-mortem degeneration.

“I’m a scientist,” Dr. DeNicola explained. “If there was something interesting here I’d be fascinated,” he said.

“I feel very strongly that the drugs had nothing to do with this,” Dr. Newman said.

White Buffalo has not yet published the results of its sterilization programs in any peer-reviewed journals, and Ms. DeNicola said it was waiting to obtain more data. But so far, a similar-sized sterilization program in San Jose, California, has seen a mortality rate of less than 1 percent, and has resulted in a decrease to the deer population of about 40 percent. A project in upstate New York has seen equally low mortality rates, she said.

The deer’s tags allow them to be traced, so that White Buffalo can keep track of what has happened to them. Most of the deer that do die, Ms. DeNicola said, get hit by cars.

Wendy Chamberlin, an animal activist and wildlife rescue rehabilitator, said that although she herself would rather see immunocontraception, she is still a supporter of sterilization programs instead of an organized culling of the herd.

“I think the most important thing is to figure out why this happened, how this happened, and if it had anything to do with sterilization, how to prevent it from happening again,” she said.

“But everyone wants to find a nonlethal way to help control the deer population. Sterilization isn’t the best way, but it’s one way and it’s highly recommended by the humane society,” she added.

Stephanie Boyles Griffin, of the Humane Society of the United States, said that its  stance is that any nonlethal method is better than the alternative, better than culling.

“There’s not a zero mortality rate, but there’s no situation where you’re handling a wild animal where there’s a zero mortality rate,” she explained.

“The intent is not to kill animals, knowing that in certain situations, despite our best efforts, we may have mortality,” she said.

“It is our understanding that this was not a complication directly related to the ovarectomy,” said Village Administrator Becky Molinaro, who said that the whole incident has been very upsetting. “The village continues to be supportive of the program,” she added.

Mr. Cullum remains uneasy about the whole process. “The choice to interfere with these animals with chemicals, and doing field surgeries and separating them from herds, releasing them back into the elements,” he said, “It just doesn’t ring right with me. It doesn’t seem fair to the animal.”

 

Test Refusal Rates Soar Across the East End

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By Tessa Raebeck

For the first time, the New York State Education Department has asked the Board of Cooperative Educational Services to compile data from school districts to learn what percentage of students in the state refused to take its tests in grades three through eight. Parents who opposed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to linked overarching and controversial educational reforms to the state’s budget and the amount set aside for school aid, have voiced their dissent by having their children “refuse the tests,” or not sit for the exams, which cover English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Nearly 40 percent of Sag Harbor students in grades three through eight did not sit for New York State’s standardized tests on Common Core mathematics last week, according to Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves. The numbers represented a 9- percent increase in test refusal from the English Language Arts (ELA) in the same grades earlier this month. The decrease in participation is likely attributed to the increased publicity of the refuse the test movement statewide.

Although much higher than in previous years, test refusal rates on the East End were not as high as those in western Long Island, where refusal rates reached nearly 80 percent in some districts.

Some administrators fear the substantial non-participation rates seen across the state this month—the largest in recent memory, if not ever—will affect not only teachers’ jobs, who could be rated as ineffective and fired if enough students opt out, but also the data some schools use to drive curriculum.

But teachers’ unions, involved parents and education experts from around the country say the reforms are threatening the human, interactive aspects of education so many students need. By raising the high stakes on standardized tests even higher, they say the governor is encouraging “teaching to the test,” which they fear replaces creative projects and interactive lessons with redundant workbooks and monotonous drills, substituting “tricks” for ideas.

Both the overhaul and the reaction could leave many teachers and administrators out of jobs should their students not perform up to par—regardless of the socioeconomic environment they teach in. Many of the students refusing the tests are the same students who perform best on them, and schools like Sag Harbor, where students traditionally excel, could see their scores plummet as refusal rates rise.

Yet, since the governor’s budget passed at the end of March, advocates for public education—including many teachers who could lose their jobs as a result—have declared refusing the test as the only means of resistance left.

Academically but not legally, test data is considered invalid if participation is limited. The federal government calls for 95 percent participation on a state’s standardized tests, but it is unclear whether any action will be taken. New York State has made no announcement as to what will happen to districts that have high refusal rates—now nearly every district in New York—and some fear school districts that did not play ball with the governor will see their state aid slashed.

“I hear that there will be no action taken,” Ms. Graves told the Sag Harbor Board of Education on Monday, April 27. “We have not gotten any guidance documents from New York State yet, I will just keep everybody posted.”

“So at this point we don’t know if we lost the school aid or not,” explained Chris Tice, vice president of the school board.

In the Bridgehampton School District, 37 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 refused to take their respective mathematics exams and 34 percent refused to take the ELA tests, Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre reported.

“Parents are genuinely concerned about the tests,” she told the board of education at its April 22 meeting.

Southampton Middle School Principal Tim Frazier said 54 percent of his students had not sat for their mathematics exam and estimated the district wide refusal rate was 55 percent.

East Hampton had far lower refusal rates, with 9 percent of student opting out of ELA and 15 percent not taking the math exams. Last year, all but 2 percent participated.

“As a building principal, the testing gives us good data to support and help children, and to improve the teaching and learning in the building,” East Hampton Middle School Principal Charles Soriano said Wednesday, adding, “The Common Core linked testing provides another opportunity for our students to develop comfort and familiarity with the genre of times, standardized testing.”

At the Montauk School, 46 out of 208 students, or 22 percent, refused to take the mathematics exam, versus about five refusals last year. Principal Jack Perna said on Tuesday, April 28, that he has “no idea” how the test refusals will affect teacher evaluations and state aid for next year and that “the state seems to be ‘confused’ as well.”

“While the Common Core standards are good, the assessments are not,” he said, “and using them so strongly for teacher evaluation is wrong.”

The governor had voiced his desire for half of a teacher’s evaluation to rely on students’ scores—even if they do not teach the subjects that are tested—but the final percentages will be determined by the State Education Department.

East Hampton Man Charged in Burglaries

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Nicholas Gray Mug Photo

An East Hampton man, who was arrested in the Town of Babylon following an investigation into several burglaries and thefts in the Amagansett area, is facing nine felony charges. Nicholas C. Gray, 27, of East Hampton was taken into custody by Suffolk County Police officers at the Lindenhurst Motel on April 7.

He was found to be in possession of two handguns, which were reported stolen from a house that was burglarized at 175 Marine Boulevard in Amagansett, East Hampton Town Police said.

Mr. Gray was arraigned on weapons charges in Central Islip on April 8 before being sent to the Suffolk County jail in Riverside when he was unable to post $30,000 bail. On April 21, he was arraigned on a total of nine felony charges, related to the burglary of two houses on Marine Boulevard in Amagansett, the theft of two vehicles, and the possession of the stolen weapons. He was returned to county jail when he was unable to post $40,000 cash bail, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Town police also announced the separate arrest of two men in connection with the burglary of a house at 5 Seventh Avenue in East Hampton on April 16. The thieves made off with $1,500 in cash, according to police. Captain Chris Anderson of the East Hampton Town Police said their arrest was not connected to the Gray case.

Donya Davis, 20 of Accabonac Highway in East Hampton and Juan Cano, 19, of Duryea Avenue in Montauk, have been charged with one count each of burglary in the second degree and Mr. Cano was charged with possession of marijuana.

Captain Anderson said the investigations were continuing and asked that anyone with information to contact police at (631) 537-7575.