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Times of Wayne County

Wayne Superintendent feeling brunt of Allowing Teacher’s Union letter to go home with students

“I approved the letter to go out to the parents, through the students, ” explained Wayne Central Superintendent of School Renee Garrett, about a now controversial decision.
“Mr. Jason Carter, president of the Wayne Teachers Union approached me asking if a letter could be sent home to parents encouraging them to write their representatives about the State Budget.”
Garrett said she read the letter, as she does with any letter being sent home with students, and felt that the letter was truthful. She indicated that she had have often allowed letters to go home from different groups, with no discrimination, so she saw nothing wrong with this one
“With the State Aid cuts, our loss in of aid will be 17.34% – the highest in Wayne County. I was actually glad to see a request to the parents to write to our legislators about the state aid cuts.”
Garrett admitted that the School Board did not see the letter first, but they were told of the letter after it had gone, because she always communicates with them.
The letter which was sent home, read:

Dear Parents,
You may have heard from Governor Cuomo that he is merely cutting spending to school districts by 2.9% in his proposed budget, which he claims districts can easily afford. However, this is grossly misleading as the actual average cut in state aid to school districts across the state is 7.3%. Furthermore the Governor’s budget not only drastically cuts aid to Wayne and its surrounding counties, but does so disproportionately as compared to school districts Downstate. The Wayne Central school district stands to lose more than 17% of its state aid funding. While various cost cutting concepts are being explored by the Wayne CSD Board of Education, the bottom line is that the proposed 17% cut in state aid will have a significant impact on the Wayne Central School District.
The Wayne Teachers’ Association is sponsoring a letter writing campaign to NY State Senator Michael Nozzolio and Assemblyman Bob Oaks to support public education and the Wayne Central School District. To show your support, please sign and complete the two enclosed letters and return to your child’s teacher by Friday, March 18th. The Wayne Teachers’ will pay to have them delivered to our state legislators. If you do not wish to use the provided letters, you are welcome to write your own letter in support of public education,.
To complete the letter, please sign your name, write your home address, and include some comments or suggestions of what our students need. (see sample below)
Disclosure: This cost of this letter writing campaign including paper, copying, and postage for mailing, was paid for entirely by the Wayne Teachers’ Association VOTE COPE political action fund and no public funds or resources were used.
Sincerely,
Jason Carter
President – Wayne Teachers’ Association

Part of Superintendent Garrett’s feeling about the appropriateness of the letter, she stated, was that the Teacher’s Union had added the disclaimer at the bottom of their letter indicating that no public funds or resources were used.
Superintendent Garrett said she received a lot of feedback about the letter going home with the students – some positive and some negative. She said that after speaking at length to one parent who was particularly upset, Garrett told the parent she would ask for a second opinion on the appropriateness of releasing the letter through the school.
Renee phoned the School District’s attorney, Wayne Vanderbyl and was told that she was incorrect in her action, should stop immediately any other letters from going out, and shred any letters that were returned or left over.
“I don’t like to make mistakes. I thought I had taken everything into consideration and I was wrong,” admitted the first year Superintendent.

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