Tag Archive | "Suffolk County"

Janet Grossman

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The new president of the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor talks about the future and why this not-for-profit needs community support.

By Stephen J. Kotz

 You were recently named the president of the newly created Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor, Inc. Why was the organization formed and how long have you been involved?

The Sag Harbor Youth Center and YARD (Youth Advocacy Resource Development) were merged beginning last summer and officially became the Youth Resource Center at the start of the year. County LegislatorJay Schneiderman really pushed for it. The two were competing for limited funding, and ever since the Youth Center had moved to the Old Whalers’ Church, not that many young people were using it.

I’m a retired teacher of English as a second language. I worked in the Sag Harbor School District for 24 years and retired seven and a half years ago. I’ve been involved with YARD since it was started, 15 years ago.

What is the new Youth Resource Center’s mission?

We want to have a place for the young people, the youth, of Sag Harbor to go after school where they can meet friends, play games, and socialize so they don’t have to go home to an empty house when their parents are working. We serve, in the community room at Pierson, 40 to 8 kids a day, mainly middle school kids.

We have games, we have refreshments and activities. Sometimes we have a workshop for kids, a babysitting workshop for instance. We try to offer resources so if they have a problem they can come in. We try to have trips for young people during school vacations and we have safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. We want to keep the kids entertained and engaged so they are not getting into trouble in town.

We also have a youth advisory board with 10 or 12 teens on it, so they can tell us what they want.

Now that the programs have been merged, do you see any advantages in funding?

We get some funding from the two villages, Sag Harbor and North Haven, a little funding from the school district, some from the county and some from the state, but we don’t know what we are going to get. A lot of people don’t know our beach program is not connected to the school, so we have to get our own insurance for that and liability insurance is $10,000 alone.

The reality is we are struggling, absolutely struggling.

What are your biggest needs at this point?

One of the most pressing things we need, even more than funding, is volunteers to join the YRC committee, which meets monthly. We know parents have a hard time getting out, but we need active members. They can be senior citizens.

I would like to be able to have more school trips. Over winter break, we took the kids to the bowling alley in Riverhead. This break they may go ice skating at Buckskill, but only about 10 have signed up, so we’ll need parents to drive them because we can’t afford a bus for only 10 kids. We have had trouble getting chaperones.

We also need people willing to work with fundraising. We used to have two or three fundraisers a year, but we only had one this year because there was not enough involvement.

We had a nice fundraiser at B Smith’s in November, but there were two other fundraisers that same night so we only came out with about $6,000 profit after a tremendous effort. We really need people to work on fundraising.

People can call me at 725-5132 if they’d like to help out.

Given the constraints you are facing, what will you focus on this year?

The main thing the kids love is the safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to run the program through this summer. After that, I don’t know. If we can just get through this summer, I’ll be really happy.

 

Gilbride Signs Letter of Intent to Attend Richmond

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Family, coaches and friends of Pierson High School senior Kasey Gilbride gathered on Thursday  in the Pierson athetic office to celebrate as she signed a Letter of Intent to attend the University of Richmond on a field hockey scholarship.

Family, coaches and friends of Pierson High School senior Kasey Gilbride gathered on Thursday in the Pierson athletic office to celebrate as she signed a Letter of Intent to attend the University of Richmond on a field hockey scholarship.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

Kasey Gilbride, Pierson High School’s star senior field hockey player, signed a National Letter of Intent last week to play Division I field hockey at the University of Richmond.

Gilbride, who is currently a member of the varsity girls basketball team heading for the postseason, will receive a partial athletic scholarship and will report to campus to begin training in late June, almost immediately after high school graduation. She also plans to close out her high school playing career at shortstop on the Pierson softball team this spring.

“Kasey’s gritty playing style will immediately drive up the level of competition within our culture,” Richmond head coach Gina Lucido said this week while announcing her incoming class of freshman players. “Her athleticism powerfully exerts itself through consistent technical play and continual second effort Kasey has an ability to make game changing momentum shifts through her dynamic gifts and tough mentality. I am eager to see the influence of Kasey‘s winning ways and skill make a mark at the next level.”

Gilbride this week said the size of Richmond and the support of the community reminded her of Pierson and Sag Harbor, which was key in her decision to join the Spiders program. She also clicked with Lucido immediately.

“I love the family feeling of the program,” Gilbride said. “The coach tells the girls all the time that they are worthy of all their success. She actually has ‘worthy’ on the back of the girls’ warm-up tops.”

Gilbride, who was the first-ever athlete from Pierson to earn All-Region honors in field hockey, led the Lady Whalers to the program’s first New York State championship in the fall. And while her game and athletic ability dazzled most onlookers during her career, Gilbride believes she has a lot of room for improvement.

“Technically speaking, the game moves faster due to the turf and just the better skill level of the players, so I have to react faster,” said Gilbride, who is currently playing indoor hockey with her Strong Island team, which recently qualified for indoor nationals, which will be held, believe it or not, in Richmond.

 

Winterfest: Live on the Vine Brings Six Weekends of Wine and Music to the North Fork

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Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

By Tessa Raebeck

Blues, soul, rock, jazz and country music are awakening the vineyards of the North Fork this winter as Winterfest: Live on the Vine combines over 100 musical performances with the natural beauty and exceptional wines of the East End.

Started as Jazz on the Vine in 2006, the annual six-week music festival returns this year as Live on the Vine, with a wider range of musicians, including many Grammy recipients and Grammy-nominated artists, performing at local hotels, restaurants, vineyard tasting rooms and other venues. Designed to stimulate local businesses – and entertain local residents – during the off-season, the festival offers countless specials on accommodations, restaurants and transportation for ticket holders, including ‘Winterfest Getaway’ package deals. Hopper Passes, new this year, allow festivalgoers to see multiple performances in a single day, weekend or throughout the entire festival, without paying separate entrance fees at each show.

Winterfest: Live on the Vine kicked off January 17 at the Suffolk Theater with a sold-out performance by blues-rock icon Johnny Winter. The music continues with multiple performances each day over six weekends, ending Saturday, March 22.

This Friday on Valentine’s Day, the Alexander Clough Trio, a jazz ensemble from Brooklyn, will play a free show at Bistro 72, a restaurant and lounge at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead from 7 to 10 p.m. Also in Riverhead at the Suffolk Theater, Myq Kaplan of Comedy Central’s show “Last Comic Standing” will present a stand-up routine, “Valentine’s Candlelight Comedy,” with dancing to follow.

Throughout the day on Saturday, February 15, 10 North Fork vineyards are hosting shows, with a performance by Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks at the Hotel Indigo Ballroom in Riverhead closing out the day. Another 10 concerts are scheduled for Sunday.

General Admission tickets for Winterfest: Live on the Vine cost $20 and include a glass of wine. Hopper passes do not include wine and are $30 for the day, $50 for the weekend or $200 for the entire six-week festival. For more information, visit liwinterfest.com.

Bridgehampton Lives to Fight Another Day

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Bridgehampton will play at Greenport in a Suffolk County Class D semifinal on Wednesday, February 12 at 6 p.m.

Bridgehampton will play at Greenport in a Suffolk County Class D semifinal on Wednesday, February 12 at 6 p.m.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

The Suffolk County Class D playoffs were scheduled to begin last night, February 12, with a veritable frenzy of competition compared to years past as four teams including Greenport, Smithtown Christian, Shelter Island and Bridgehampton kicked off the 2014 boys basketball postseason.

The top-seeded Porters were scheduled to host Bridgehampton last night in a game that occurred too late for this edition. The Killer Bees successfully petitioned Section XI, the county’s governing body of athletics, for a berth despite finishing the regular-season with a sub-.500 record against League VIII competition.

Coverage from last night’s game is available at sagharboronline.com. The winner will have advanced to play either Smithtown Christian or Shelter Island for the Class D Championships at Longwood High School at noon on Saturday.

In recent years, only two Class D schools have faced off for the county championship. But parity ruled the ranks this season, with Greenport, Smithtown Christian and Shelter Island all finishing with 8-8 records in league play. Bridgehampton finished 7-9, but was 5-3 against Class D schools, which was the determining factor in Section XI’s decision to let the Bees compete.

“Right now, we’re all the same, and anyone can beat anyone on any given night,” head coach Carl Johnson said on Monday after the Section XI brackets were announced. “Whoever is playing and executing the best is going to win the game.”

Bridgehampton had a chance to stamp its own ticket to the postseason last week, but suffered a 68-64 loss to Greenport at home on Thursday, February 6. The Bees led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but Greenport’s Angel Colon emerged from halftime on fire, scoring 10 straight points to trim Bridgehampton’s lead to 40-37 in a matter of minutes.

Foul trouble was a major factor all night as well, with both Josh Lamison and Tylik Furman, Bridgehampton’s top two players, fouling out in the fourth quarter. The Bees have a short bench and regularly play their starting five the distance when foul trouble is not a factor.

Furman finished with 25 points against Greenport, while Lamison had 19.

“We’re going to have to re-think our strategy, and try to keep the game close while they’re on the bench with foul trouble,” Johnson said on Monday.

Gavin Dibble, who also fouled out in the fourth quarter, led Greenport with 25 points while Colon finished with 16.

The Killer Bees’ role players, including Henry Kotz, Kevin Feliciano, Matt Hochstedler and Max Cheng, played hard down the stretch alongside regular starters Anaje Lamb and Jerome Walker, but the team lacked the offensive firepower to hold a three-point lead when Furman joined Lamison on the bench with 5:04 remaining. Greenport closed out the game with a 9-0 run.

The Bees finished the regular season with a 53-30 win over Knox on Friday.

Schneiderman Elected Deputy Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature

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PO and DPO

The Suffolk County Legislature’s majority caucus, which holds 12 out of 18 seats, voted unanimously to select Legislator DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville; pictured standing left) as Presiding Officer and Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk; pictured, standing right) as the next Deputy Presiding Officer at its meeting on Friday December 20.

The 12-member caucus met to decide on a replacement for former Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley of Babylon, who has left the legislature to become the regional director of Long Island State Parks. The final vote for these leadership positions took place at the Suffolk County Legislature’s Organizational Meeting on January 2, 2014.

Among the many powers and duties of the presiding officer, the officer chairs all meetings of the full legislature, preserves order and determines when to recess meetings. The presiding officer also establishes independent committees, boards and commissions and designates a chairperson to a specific committee. In the event of an absence from a legislative meeting of the presiding officer, the deputy presiding officer assumes those powers and duties.

Legislator Schneiderman will be the first member of the Independence Party to hold a leadership position at the county level.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for this great opportunity,” said Schneiderman. “I look forward to working with Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and the County Executive towards a proactive agenda and to be a strong voice for Suffolk County.”

Schneiderman said he plans to work on mental health issues, poverty, public transportation and the fiscal issues facing Suffolk County’s budget as he enters his final term on the legislature. Schneiderman also plans to move forward with environmental issues such as improving water quality and reducing the incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

 

Two-Hour Delay for Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton Schools Tuesday Due to Extreme Cold

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A woman endures the cold on a dock in Sag Harbor Village Monday evening. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

A woman endures the cold on a dock in Sag Harbor Village Monday evening. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

In anticipation of bitter cold, freezing rain and icy roads, the Sag Harbor School District has announced all schools will be operating on a two-hour delay on Tuesday, January 7. The morning Pre-K session is cancelled.

The Bridgehampton School District will also be having a two-hour delayed opening Tuesday, according to Dr. Lois Favre, superintendent for the district.

A bitter cold wind chill advisory is in effect from midnight Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The temperature Tuesday is expected to be well below freezing, with a high of 16 degrees and wind chill values as low as -8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Suffolk County residents who are without shelter during the extreme cold can contact the Temporary Housing Assistance Unit at (631) 854-9517 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. At all other times, please call the Emergency Services Unit at (631) 854-9100.

If you are in need of home heating fuel or an emergency burner repair, call the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program at (631) 853-8820 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Emergency Services Unit at (631) 854-9100 at all other times.

South Fork Gas Prices Drop

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.  announced late last week his most recent survey of gasoline prices. According to that survey, South Fork prices have declined $0.08 since the last survey late in October.

Long Island prices have increased by $0.09 cents during the same period. South Fork prices are now $0.03 cents above the state and Long Island average. South Fork gas prices were $0.20 cents higher than the Long Island average in October. That differential has decreased by $0.17 cents since October when it was $0.20 cents.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) provides for a regional survey on New York State gasoline prices. However, there is no survey solely for the South Fork. Thiele’s survey also includes prices in western Southampton along Montauk Highway.

“The average price for East Hampton and Southampton along Montauk Highway excluding Amagansett and Montauk is now $3.69,” said Thiele.  “The average price for Amagansett and Montauk is $4.09. A gallon of gas on the North Fork is now about $3.59. The LI average is $3.66 and the State average is $3.66.”

Cantwell Announces Town Attorney Appointments

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While Larry Cantwell will not officially be sworn is as the new supervisor of East Hampton Town until January 2, this week he announced appointments to the town attorney’s office on behalf of the incoming town board.

Elizabeth Vail has been selected as town attorney, according to Cantwell. A graduate of St. John’s University School of Law with eight years experience as an assistant town attorney in Southampton Town and three years with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Vail’s municipal experience is something Cantwell said will enable her to manage the legal affairs of East Hampton Town and the leadership skills to “guide the town attorney’s office with integrity and independent judgment.”

Elizabeth Baldwin and Michael Sendlenski will join Vail as assistant town attorneys. Baldwin is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and a former Assistant Town Attorney in East Hampton where she served for five years. Baldwin, known as Beth, has experience in planning, zoning, and housing and land acquisitions, noted Cantwell. She has been a practicing attorney for 10 years and for the past two years served as Associate Director and Counsel to the North Shore Land Alliance.

Sendlenski is a graduate of Harvard University and Suffolk University Law School and has served as Assistant Town Attorney in Southampton since 2007.

“Michael has specific experience in drafting and enforcing quality of life, environmental and conservation law, obtaining search warrants, and prosecuting zoning and code violations in town and State Supreme Courts and has litigated and argued appeals on municipal matters in the Second Department Appellate Division,” said Cantwell in a press release issued Sunday. “He also served as Chief of Staff for the Committee on Public Safety of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

John Jilnicki, who has served as the current town attorney, is a graduate of St. Johns University School of Law and has served as East Hampton Town Attorney and Assistant Town Attorney for over 20 years.

“John has comprehensive knowledge of town government and the legal affairs of the town and has been a dedicated public servant,” said Cantwell. “He will be an integral part of the town Attorney’s Office.”

“Together these attorneys have broad experience and knowledge of municipal law and proven dedication to public service,” said Cantwell. “We look forward to a town attorney’s office that maintains the highest ethical standards and provides solid legal support to town government. In addition to broad knowledge of municipal legal affairs the individual specialized skills of this team will bring experienced legal advice to the town board in many key areas of concern including, planning and zoning, litigation, and effective enforcement of town codes.”

Cantwell will join his Democratic Party running mate Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican Fred Overton in being sworn into the East Hampton Town Board on January 2 with a reception at 9 a.m. and swearing in at 9:30 a.m. An organizational meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

Dix Hills Man Indicted on Fraud Charges; Feds Allege Scheme to Buy Shinnecock Cigarettes

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By Tessa Raebeck

A Dix Hills man was arraigned in federal court Tuesday following charges that he solicited over $5 million from friends and neighbors in what federal officials are referring to as a Ponzi scheme that took place over eight years.

Robert Rocco, 48, was charged with 14 federal counts of wire and mail fraud, after allegedly promising investors returns of as much as 18 percent annually on fabricated investments, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Prosecutors said victims believed their investments – ranging from $25,000 to $1.2 million – were being used by Rocco to fund loans to a tobacco shop on the Shinnecock Native American Reservation to finance wholesale cigarette purchases, among other ventures.

Since 2006, Rocco purported to provide said financing through his corporation, Limestone Capital Services (Limestone) in Melville, in which over two dozen individuals invested, according to prosecutors.

As president of the Dix Hills Soccer Club, Rocco allegedly used his position to solicit donations and investments from members, donors and volunteers of the club. The indictment states he controlled the club’s bank accounts and did not permit others to access the records.

In early 2010, Rocco allegedly took some $66,915 from the Dix Hills Soccer Club and deposited the checks into a Limestone bank account, subsequently distributing the funds to his investors as their purported returns.

According to the indictment, Rocco then told one victim, who is a volunteer and member of the soccer club, that the club had no funds left, prompting the victim to make two donations of $20,000 and $25,000, respectively.

In the summer of 2010, Rocco allegedly solicited donations from the victim and his family for a new company, Advent Merchant Services, LLC, (AMS) which he said was a credit card processing company. The indictment states the money Rocco received from the victim for AMS was not invested, but instead used to pay purported returns to Limestone investors.

Prosecutors said Rocco again solicited the victim for donations to a third company, Advent Equity Partners, LLC, (AEP) and provided him with fraudulent notarized sale contracts and bank statements. In addition to the $45,000 in donations meant for the Dix Hills Soccer Club, the victim and his family paid Rocco over $1.3 million for supposed investments in AMS and AEP, said the indictment. Rocco allegedly used the victim’s own funds to pay the family’s returns.

According to the indictment, Rocco recruited a second victim – who also invested his money as well as his family’s money – to help him solicit investments from a wider network of friends, family and colleagues. Prosecutors said Rocco promised investors annual rates of return of 15 to 18 percent and raised over $5 million in investments in Limestone alone between 2006 and 2013.

Using funds received from later investors, Rocco allegedly paid initial investors about 10 checks of a few hundred dollars per year between 2009 and 2013, with lesser returns than promised.

Around February 2009, Rocco told Limestone investors that some $5 million in uninsured cigarette inventory financed by the company was stolen from the Shinnecock Reservation by “a rival Indian tribe,” according to the indictment. No police report was filed.

In the late summer of 2013, after allegedly missing payments to investors, Rocco reportedly confessed to the second victim – who had helped him solicit investments – that everything he had told him about Limestone was a lie.

Rocco is charged with five counts of wire fraud and nine counts of mail fraud, all federal. He reportedly pled not guilty to all charges.

If convicted, Rocco faces substantial jail time – as much as 30 years per charge – and must forfeit all funds and property obtained directly or indirectly as a result of his alleged offenses, including his home in Dix Hills.

Suffolk County Demands Action from State Education Commissioner at Common Core Forum

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State Education Commissioner Dr. John King, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Regent Roger Tilles listen to speakers at the forum November 26.

State Education Commissioner Dr. John King, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Regent Roger Tilles listen to speakers at the forum November 26. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Tests with a sole purpose to judge teachers; educators of 40 years who must submit lesson plans to the state; children crying to their parents every night that they are “stupid”— this is the picture of New York’s public education system painted by the students, teachers, administrators, parents and even public officials who attended a forum with New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King on November 26.

Dr. King sat on stage overlooking the auditorium at Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School — filled to capacity at 1,000 — with Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Roger Tilles, a regent who represents Long Island.

During the forum, Long Islanders questioned and even heckled the state officials who appeared at times to be distressed, annoyed or un-phased.

A sign held by many read, “We Are All More Than a Score” on one side and “Parents, Teachers, Students, Principals — United” on the reverse.

One man had a poster with photos of his children and the words, “These are my special interests.”

Gary Karlson, a parent, third grade teacher and union vice president in the Riverhead school district, held a sign saying, “If you want to wage war on public education, keep my children out of it.”

When asked why he was there, Karlson said, “I don’t like feeling like a substitute teacher every day.”

Rocky Point High School students question state education officials.

Rocky Point High School students question state education officials.

Questions were submitted prior to the forum and about 30 speakers were permitted to address the commissioner directly from podiums below the state officials. All but two of the speakers were overtly critical about the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards, the testing of students, the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) teacher evaluation system, the use of a for-profit data warehousing company to store information on students and alleged corruption in the state’s decision to use educational publishing giant Pearson in implementing Common Core.

Sag Harbor’s interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso and Bridgehampton superintendent/principal Dr. Lois Favre have expressed their support of a letter drafted by Suffolk County superintendents asking the state to stop over-testing and slow down Common Core implementation.

“The relevance and developmental significance of the new curriculum for our more accomplished students is questionable,” said Jan Achilich, director of special education in the Remsenburg-Speonk School District, “and that concern is amplified tenfold for our students with cognitive and developmental challenges and our English language learners.”

Several speakers asked the commissioner why he refused to admit the flaws of the implementation, which educators across the state have said was haphazard and harmful to children because they were assessed on things they had not yet learned proficiently. Although many admitted benefits in the educational philosophy of the Common Core, critics have maintained these were eradicated by the mismanaged rollout.

Dr. King replied the state has asked the US Department of Education for permission to curb some of the testing by allowing accelerated eighth grade math students to opt out of the state test in favor of the regents exam and to allow for two percent of students to take tests at their instructional level, as opposed to the one percent currently permitted.

“Get the feds out of it!” a heckler yelled. Another said that by no longer accepting federal Race to the Top funding, “we could do what New York does well for New York.”

Bill McGrath, a Shoreham Wading River trustee and president of the district’s school board, quoted Dr. King’s position on how the state is unable to slow down implementation and the importance of the new curriculum.

“If all this is true,” McGrath asked, “how can it be that you — as well as every regent but one — send his or her children to private schools? If these reforms are so vital to every student’s future, why shouldn’t the regents and the commissioner want their own children to experience them?”

Westhampton Beach school superintendent Mike Radday said it is misguided to believe a student who has always learned under the old standards should be given an exam aligned to the new standards immediately.

“It is even more misguided,” said Radday, “to then take the results of those exams and tie them to a teacher’s evaluation.”

Less than a third of students statewide met the new standards in the tests administered last spring.

Connor Sick, a senior at Rocky Point High School, asked the commissioner, “If you have anything to say about why failure is being used as a weapon to motivate these students?”

The NYS United Teachers Union has asked for a three-year moratorium on the use of students’ test scores in

Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) President Jim Kinnear returns to a supportive crowd after addressing state education officials.

Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) President Jim Kinnear returns to a supportive crowd after addressing state education officials.

teacher and principal evaluations.

Jim Kinnear, president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor, asked the commissioner if he would commit to having three teachers, two principals and one superintendent on the body that makes decisions on educational curriculum.

“Of those that are on the board that are making these decisions, including the commissioner, none have teaching experience,” Sag Harbor school board vice president Chris Tice, who also spoke at the forum, said at Monday’s school board meeting. “My impression was that very little was heard and very little constructive feedback was provided back, unfortunately.”

During the forum with Dr. King, Tice and others questioned the use of a third party data warehousing company, In Bloom, to house students’ scores and private information. Of the nine states that originally hired for-profit data companies, New York is the only one that does not offer parents the ability to opt out.

“New York has usurped my parental authority,” said Mount Sinai’s Candice Donin. “These are my children, not property of the state.”

A group of New York principals sent the state a letter of concern regarding APPR regulations, which has been signed by over 8,000 New Yorkers.

Chris Tice, vice president of the Sag Harbor Board of Education, addresses the commissioner.

Chris Tice, vice president of the Sag Harbor Board of Education, addresses the commissioner.

In addition to outlining extensive educational research showing student test scores are not a strong predictor of quality teaching, the letter says vital tax dollars are being redirected from schools to testing companies, trainers (the state recommends administrators undergo up to 17 days of training, with sessions typically costing $120 per day per person) and other vendors.

Michael Friscia, president of the Rocky Point Teachers Association, said corruptness is at the core of the new curriculum’s existence.

“Besiege our last hope — our lawmakers — to force the change necessary to save public education,” said Brian Snow of the Port Jefferson Teachers Association, calling the regents’ reforms “the privatization of education for their own profit.”

Cyndi McNamara, a mother of two children at East Quogue Elementary School, pointed to substantial teacher layoffs and program cuts across Long Island.

“We didn’t need it, we didn’t ask for it, but we’re going to pay for it,” McNamara said of the reforms. “We don’t need more testing … we simply need you to return the programs, teachers and supplies that have been taken from our schools and let our teachers teach.”

At the forum, some residents also criticized the state’s relationship with Pearson Publishing.

As the world’s largest for-profit education business and the largest educational publisher in the country, Pearson sells tests, curriculums, textbooks, training and other programs. New York State signed a five-year $32 million contract with Pearson to produce standardized tests in 2011.

That same year, Pearson reported North American education was its largest business, with sales of nearly $4.3 billion and an operating profit of about $800 million.

Following several allegations that Pearson financed lavish international trips for education commissioners whose states do business with the company, in December 2011 New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to the Manhattan offices of Pearson Education and the Pearson Foundation, the corporation’s nonprofit arm.

New York’s $32 million contract with Pearson was awarded after former state education commissioner David Steiner attended a conference in London in June 2010 underwritten by the Pearson Foundation.

The inquiry is ongoing.

“I can’t say calm down because I agree with you,” Regent Tilles told the riled up crowd at the forum. “But I can say you might be more effective if you work within the system, work with your legislators, work with the government.”

Dr. King said the department has made some adjustments and will continue to make others, adding, “Disagreeing isn’t the same as not listening.”

“I hope,” State Senator Kenneth LaValle told the commissioner, “that within a very short period of time you can reinstate the hope and faith that people have in our government system – that their input counts and that they can make a difference.”