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Football investigation concluding soon

Board says answers could be out in 48 to 72 hours

Photo by Jason Emerson.

— While the previous meeting was earnest, this meeting was heated and angry, with attendees jeering, clapping, interrupting and accusing board of education members of witch hunts, lies, bias, secrets, inconsistencies and illegalities.

Resident Wendy Rourke said she filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the district to get copies of the Section III letter instigating the investigation, and said she was “very disappointed” that board clerk Dale Bates responded slowly and non-specifically to her inquiries, although she conceded that he did “fulfill his obligations under the law.” She said she spoke to Rathbun, who denied sending the letter to the Skaneateles district that started the investigation.

D’Angelo said Rathbun did in fact send the letter, which the district would send to Rourke in compliance with her FOIA request, and that the “numerous, numerous” complaints were mostly by telephone and not in writing.

Maura Mulnar, whose son is on the football team, chastised the board — and other attendees who spoke — for wrongly and needlessly criticizing the team and the coaches.

“Can’t we just celebrate the boys?” she said, referring to the team’s current undefeated season.

Some speakers aimed their comments at the board of education members directly. Patty Windgren said “We’re worried [your investigation] is not going to be just and fair;” Sam Walker accused the board of changing its story to suit its own purposes.

For their part, some members of the board, typically stoic while listening to public comments, became noticeably exasperated and angry by the comments and attacks of the attendees.

When resident Ed Keller demanded to know how many school board members were aware of the investigation when it was launched, since taxpayer money is paying for the investigation, both Dreyfuss and board Vice President Kate Cogswell seemed to take offense. Cogswell responded that the entire board knew about it, but when Keller kept pressing the question, Cogswell finally retorted, “Are you trying to undermine the integrity of this board?”

Dreyfuss responded to Keller and other accusations about witch hunts and obfuscation, “You don’t have the facts. You ask us not to act on rumor and innuendo and that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re attacking the wrong people.”

After 30 minutes, the board closed the public comment period. Dreyfuss promised the attendees that when the final report on the investigation is done in the coming days, “you’ll get your answers.”

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneaelespress.com.

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