Trustee’s Request For Interim Investigative Report Leads to Outbursts

School Board Members disagree about attorney’s report on confidential document


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

The Real Mary Smith January 06, 2012 at 12:52 PM
The Board Majority yet again is speaking through both sides of their mouths. They are more concerned with how this information got out, rather than the contents of the letter. Mrs. Ehrenberg should do the right thing and resign! She has broken the public's trust! Donna, shame on you!
New City Parent January 06, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Lets talk about the letter they are investigating. IF the letter is real, Donna and Phil did something wrong. The principal went to CCSD admin and reported it. I would assume the principal and the teacher went to their respected union reps and reported it as well. The CCSD admin I would imagine would have mentioned it to the Super. Now the fun part, the teacher brings the harassment complaint to Montague who is friends with the Phil. The principal brings the inappropriate behavior complaint to Pilla who is friends with Donna and Phil. And the Super needs to report it to the School Board, who's president happens to be Phil. All roads lead to Phil and Donna. And they want an investigation? They are being harassed? Are you kidding me? Now they don't want a dollar limit or time limit on how much it costs to investigate. They want to know WHO leaked it. They already know it happened. Wake up people!!!
Leah James January 06, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Phil doesn't seem to deny it happened. He just wants to know who "stole" it. That letter is alarming because it proves the way these people operate. What level of education do these people have anyway? Katz? This guy is a joke! Does anyone take him seriously as board prez? Now more of OUR $ being WASTED as the investigation drags on!!! RESIGN !!!
Leah James January 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Beofre Lenave was hired he was brought before a group of parents. At no time did Phil ever disclose that this guy was his neighbor and close friend. It wasn't until he was hired that the truth came out. He's a puppet, no more. Speaking of finances, what about the 40 thousand dollars from Febrauary that appears to haev been used to buy out MKC when we were lead to believe it was to defend the district against a suit by MKC? Someone is going to be held accountable for that!
A QUESTION..i read a few weeks ago that Guantanomo was calling berbitt the lawyer every day for a few hours keeping him on the phone..Again asi t was posted here it may or may not be accurate....BUT IF THAT IS THE CASE DO WE THE TAXPAYER PAY THIS COST?IS THERE A FULL HOURLY BREAKDOWN OF THE LAWYERS BILLS? OR IS BERBITT ON A SET YEARLY FEE ? ANYONE HAVE THE ANSWER? BECAUSE LAWYERS CHARGE FOR EVERY NANO-SECOND...
and as the Circus continues maybe we can charge admission to see the clowns at the board meetings..the guy in green can wear red !!!! and as the events continue to sink the future values of our homes it is time"TO CHALLANGE THE TAX ASSESSMENTS ON OUR HOUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!LETS SHOW THE CLOWNCLOWNVILLE HEADS WHO THEIR BOSSES ARE..ITS 'WE THE TAXPAYERS!!!
New City Parent January 06, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I think it is illegal to get approval for funds for a specific task and then use the funds for something else!!! We need to hire a law firm to look into that too!!! Can the BOE please discuss this at the next meeting? A. Did the monies approved by the BOE to higher a law firm to defend possible charges get used for those purposes? B. What exactly did that money get used for and how much of it was used? C. Was there a report to the BOE from that attorney pertaining to what public money was approved for? D. Does everyone know that Doug's insurance business does business with the attorney hired by the BOE? Answer, answer, anybody? Was that money used for what it was approved and intended for? IF NOT, CAN YOU SAY ILLEGAL USE OF FUNDS?
HowieM January 06, 2012 at 02:34 PM
This Board already has cost the district hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars that could have been spent on education. In addition, we will lose an exceptional Superintendant and may lose a fantastic principal at Woodglen. Call your State assemblyman and State Senator and insist on a State Education Department investigation. It's time Albany got involved!
HowieM January 06, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Senator David Carlucci - 623-3627 Assemblyman Zebrowski 634-9791
Leah James January 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Why on earth get rid of 3 people who have the courage to expose these people and their dirty deeds? I commend them! I'm sorry, I cannot wait until the next election. I don't care who leaked the letter, I'm fascinated by why it wasn't investigated back in March like it should have been!I do believe we have a cover up! Look at what New City Parent posted above: Now the fun part, the teacher brings the harassment complaint to Montague who is friends with the Phil. The principal brings the inappropriate behavior complaint to Pilla who is friends with Donna and Phil. And the Super needs to report it to the School Board, who's president happens to be Phil. All roads lead to Phil and Donna. And they want an investigation? They are being harassed? Are you kidding me? Now they don't want a dollar limit or time limit on how much it costs to investigate. They want to know WHO leaked it. They already know it happened. Wake up people!!!
Leah James January 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
For anyone upset about the 40 thousand wasted and what it was actually used for, you can report it THREE ways (I did all three): http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm http://www.oms.nysed.gov/oas/fraud/ http://www.reportpubliccorruption.org/ I encourage everyone to do all three methods. We need a full scale investigtion to start. What else did theydo with OUR $ ???????????????????????????
Leah James January 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Funny NCD! Accuse someone you don't even know of something that probably never happened. The supporters of these jokers should be held accountable, too, for teh damage you have caused our district and community. At the very least you are blind followers of people who could care less about the kids. The kids, remember?
Debra Goldstein January 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Per your item D: I would check into the codes and ethics of the school board. Does not sound too ethical to me.
Overtaxed January 06, 2012 at 07:09 PM
new city dad just one comment. You rail against people who are anonymous, but I dout your name is new city dad... just sayin!
Tim Real January 06, 2012 at 08:44 PM
we know sho you are. Shame on you and your family. KM KM KM
Yehbut January 06, 2012 at 09:40 PM
If not for the sneaky lame duck contract extension years ago by John Davidson, et al, KC would be gone, this board would not have been elected, and all this drama never would have happened. KC is the eye of the hurricane and she as well as this whole board need to go.
MZ January 06, 2012 at 10:33 PM
New City Patch...please don't allow postings from people who refuse to use their real names.If they are truly passionate about what is going on they won't hide behind pen names!
William Demarest (Editor) January 06, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Patch users: The comments area is not meant to be, and by the terms of use, is not a forum to launch personal attacks, whether those attacks be about a person mentioned in a Patch story or against a person leaving a comment. Please refrain from such attacks.
Truth Seeker January 07, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I salute Diane, Bob & Joe for having the courage to bring the truth to the public. I salute Robin Traum for her in depth reporting which has brought forth some dramatic facts as to how the "majority" operates or doesn't operate. It seems highly unlikely that all these allegations are not founded in fact. There is just too much. One has to wonder what else happened in the past few years on this board. I heard that lawyers were in the district this week conducting interviews pertaining to the Maher letter. Mr. Katz, we don't want a report at the end. It's obvious you are stalling. You are becoming an accessory to a violation of laws if the content of the letter turns out to be true. Do you really want that? Come on, for once stand up, be your own man and do the right thing. Speed the investigation up and give us the results prior to the next board meeting.
Jules Ehrenberg January 07, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I've tried my best to stay out of the negative blogging but the anonymous coward using the names of 2 of my children as their pen name is disgusting and harassment to my family. Please do not think you are intimidating us by doing this but I would suggest to you that if you are to continue blogging, please have the courage to say who you really are. I encourage Bill Demarest and the Clarkstown Police Department to look into the pen name Leah James and help identify who this person really is. Thank you
Susan B January 07, 2012 at 02:35 AM
New City Dad. Well Said !! They are only protecting the Queen's Job BTW the Queen does not own a castle in Clarkstown. So since there is no castle, there is no caring, SELFISHNESS is the word. MKC only cares for her Career,not our Students.
Truth Seeker January 07, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Back to the topic at hand. What exactly happened to the scheduled executive session that was supposed to happen prior to the regular session? I am very confused. Did it happen? Didn't it happen? Then they voted to go back into executive session but didn't? I cannot figure it out.
Jules Ehrenberg January 07, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I'd like to keep those that monitor the issues around bringing back Meg informed of the behind the scenes issues we have been dealing with. Today we received our 8th threatening harassment letter received at our home/work. We think the same person portraying themselves as Leah James is also sending these threatening letters. I understand and respect that there is debate whether to keep Meg or not but this has gone too far and I urge all those who might know who is doing this to please let us know and /or contact the police and not be intimidated by such reprehensible cowards. The last piece of mail we received was postmarked in California. If you know anyone who recently was in California and could possibly do this to please notify us or the police. I'm not asking for any sympathy, just think if this were happening to your family. What would you do? I have contacted an attorney and private investigator and will spare no expense to protect my family. I will keep the public aware of any future issues.
Jules Ehrenberg January 07, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Thank you.
Truth Seeker January 09, 2012 at 12:26 AM
How much has this investigation cost the taxpayers so far????????????????????
Jules Ehrenberg January 09, 2012 at 02:04 PM
We received another harassment letter today that was sent to my place of work. The information on this letter was extremely personal that very few people know about. This letter was focused on one of my daughters, who happens to be on the autistic spectrum. Only a select few knew about this information. Who ever is doing this, again, you will not intimidate us and I will continue to make the public aware of what you are doing to my family.
Jules Ehrenberg January 09, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thank you.
ADK January 09, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Mr Demarest, I, as much as anyone have appreciated this forum to exchange opinions on important issues.However recent events have moved well past honest "give and take" and entered harrassment...or worse. Using the names of Ms Ehrenberg's children as a pen name is unacceptable. It is designed to intimidate and humiliate at best...at worst, it indicates a sick "I can get to you whenever I want" mindset that may be criminal. I call upon you to turn over this individual's information to Clarkstown Police. Unlike a "source" that may be protected in the interest of the first amendment, yelling "fire" in a crowed theatre, or harassment of this type are not protected. This situation has escalated to now dangerous levels. Using Children as a "counter offensive tactic" is unacceptable. As for the sick, twisted individual behind "Leah James" MY name is Alan D. Katz of 8 Glenmere Rd in New City...914-954-8003...how about you leave Donna's children alone, come out of your bunker and come after ME?


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