A request for an interim report from the the distribution and circumstances of a confidential document led to Clarkstown Board Member Hoeneveld questioning fellow trustee Donna Ehrenberg.
Hoeneveld asked, “The allegations in the letter, Donna, are they true?”
That remark led to a suggestion to go into executive session. The school board typically holds an executive session prior to its public meetings but did not have one on Thursday night. Board President Doug Katz suggested the members go into executive session but Hoeneveld objected and said the issue being discussed was not a personnel matter and that her emailed request for an executive session had been denied.
“I want to know why the law firm won’t give us interim report,” she said. He has to wait until the very end. We’re paying him. We should make the demands what we want.”
Hoeneveld said she wanted an interim report on the status of the attorney’s expenses by Jan. 18 so it could be put on the district’s web site prior to the board’s meeting on the following day. She said she wanted to know what progress the attorney was making since it could be costing $20,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Katz said he expected a report either the first or second week in February.
“When any type of investigation goes on we get a report at the end,” he said.
Trustee Robert Carlucci said he had been told there would be an interim report and did not know “what had transpired between yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday).”
“Just like Diane I want an interim report by the 18th,” he said. “I want it published. I want the public to be aware of what is going on in this district.”
Carlucci said he asked for an investigation as soon as he received the document and so had the school district’s union leaders. He insisted the attorney’s fee be limited to $15,000 since the district already spent $40,000 on other legal expenses. Katz said setting a limit on the fees could only be voted on during the new business portion of the meeting, which had already been completed.
Trustee Phil DeGaetano disagreed with restricting the fee.
“I want the truth,” he said. “I’m not capping anything. I want the truth.”
Ehrenberg spoke about the letter that had been distributed through the district by email.
“I’ve never seen that letter before,” she said. But I will tell you what I’ve been through. In the last week I’ve gotten anonymous letters. So if you want to write me something I suggest you put your name to it.”
Ehrenberg said unsigned letters had been sent to her home and her husband’s office and had upset her family.
“So I welcome the full investigation to see what has gone on in this district,” she said.
The board hired Feerick Lynch MacCartney of Nyack on December 19 to conduct an investigation but did not disclose any additional details. In the morning of December 20, an email was widely circulated that included the text of a letter with DeGaetano and Ehrenberg’s names and reportedly bearing the signature of Woodglen Elementary School Principal Lisa Maher. DeGaetano said the email contained material “stolen from the district