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Special meeting on Thursday for Ehrenberg’s legal defense request

Latest Petition Seeking Removal of School Board Member Donna Ehrenberg Filed By Resident

New City resident Robert Kurkela filed a petition with the State Department of Education on Nov. 3 seeking the removal of Clarkstown Board of Education Trustee Donna Ehrenberg.  The board of education scheduled a special meeting for Thursday night, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Clarkstown High School North to vote on Ehrenberg’s request for the district to provide her with legal defense.

Kurkela’s petition is the filed against a member of the school board since October 23.  The first three petitions were filed by current and former school board members: Diane Hoeneveld, Robert Alan Carlucci, Joe Malgieri and Lisa Lieberman seeking to have Board President Douglas Katz and member Philip DeGaetano removed as trustees.  Katz and DeGaetano also requested resolutions from the school board in order to receive the benefits of Section 3811 of state Education Law.  A majority of board members voted last week to authorize the school district to pay for their legal representation by the law firm of Donoghue, Thomas, Auslander and Drohan, LLP of Hopewell Junction, NY. The firm charges a $210 hourly rate. 

Kurkela’s petition, which is posted on the district's website, focuses on events that took place during the Oct. 5 meeting.  It states “Donna Ehrenberg did willfully and with prior intent embarrass and cause discomfort, distress and shame for me and my family in full view of the public attending the meeting.”  It asks the state education commissioner to remove her for “willful violation and neglect of duty. 

Kurkela felt it was necessary for him to take action.

“When I left that meeting, I was mortified by the treatment I received as a member of the community,” he said.

His petition also states that Ehrenberg “chastised me on two separate occasions which are easily viewed on the video (Exhibit A) from the meeting.”

(Note: Most school board meetings, regular and special have been videotaped and streamed live through the district’s web site since the spring.  However, last week’s special meeting on Nov. 3 was not videotaped by the district. 

Kurkela’s petition cites two instances during the Oct. 5 meeting.  Ehrenberg “mentions the word “attack” as it relates to my personal involvement with the ongoing deliberation by the board over the hiring of a consultant to evaluate Special Education programming in the District.”   The second reference is “to confirm it’s me she is talking about she clearly states ‘Yes, Bob’.”

Kurkela said Katz approached him after that meeting and told him he would speak with Ehrenberg.  However, Kurkela said there was no follow-up from Katz that any discussion had taken place. 

The petitions against Katz and DeGaetano make the following claims about their actions:

  • to conduct business and make statements on behalf of the Board of Education without authorization by a majority of Board of Education trustees at a legally convened public or executive session of the Board
  • to violate the contract of the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Margaret Keller-Cogan by failing to direct the Board to complete her annual evaluation in June 2010, in accordance with her contract

Kurkela said his petition has nothing to do with those filed against the other board members.  He had 30 days from the date of the meeting to file and said, “It’s just ironic that it happened after the other petitions.” 

Culpsa November 12, 2011 at 05:38 AM
WOW! I can't believe the nonsense. Mr. Kurkela, if you can't take the heat, don't go to a forum. This is where ideas, opinions, and such are discussed. I don't see where anyone slandered you, or cursed at you. Boohoo, so you got a little humilated by Donna, and infront of your family, no less. I am sure you provoked it. Please leave your personal feelings at home with your family. By the way, If your humilation hurts so bad, maybe you should get a more supportive family. Most of all, please don't waste our taxpayer's dollars on your own personal agenda. This has absolutely nothing to do with the board. As for Keller-Cogan, she tried, but failed. Time to start the interviews.
Tony T November 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM
I went back and read the previous comments on this subject...and you act as a provocateur but accept no responsibility. You remind me of the 1960 radicals who lead the crowd stir them up to a fever pitch and then fade into the back ground when the "rubber hits the road" and let other bare the responsibility of your actions.
Truth Seeker November 26, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Tony, usually when someone suddenly goes silent it's due to attorney involvement. Perhaps it has something to do with Mr. Katz's petition? His petition was never made public > Why? What exactly was in it? Many people want an answer to this question. My common sense is telling me something big is happening that we don't yet know about. What do you think?
MrOctane89 November 26, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Goodbye can you please show us proof for your answers to JB's questions? I would really like to see where your proof is for these answers
Dzeldaz November 27, 2011 at 10:04 AM
Tony T: ClarkstownDad has an excellent point and excellent questions. Speaking of stirring up a crowd, in reading your posts, it seems they are an attempt to do exactly that, and to personally discredit people. Please present us with real information rather than with what seems to be vitriol against others. What do you have to share that would be helpful in solving the gaps in the BOE situation? So many keep asking for answers and have to work with little information that does not add up. The questions continue to be asked in hope that someone will eventually have an answer.Do you know what was so important that the public could not be at the last meeting? I haven't heard, so if you could share, that would be great.

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