CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- While Monday's announcement of Chappaqua Schools Superintendent Lyn McKay's resignation was praised by local critics, the news of her ouster was not enough to assuage them in their calls for more shake ups in the school district to more changes amid a sex-abuse case involving former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel.
Parent Will Wedge held a press conference on Monday afternoon at the entrance of the Greeley campus to lay out a series of demands given on behalf of a group called Chappaqua FACTS (Families Advocating for Children and Transparency in Schools).
“Despite accepting no responsibility today for the many failures of her leadership, students, teachers and parents alike should see McKay's resignation as the necessary first step in a process that will lead to a thorough independent investigation of our district and a restructuring of its administration and the board of education," Wedge said in prepared remarks before a group of reporters.
Chappaqua FACTS is calling for the resignation of school board President Alyson Gardner over what Wedge called her “tone-deaf mishandling of the crisis,” as well as her “documented contempt” for residents in emails that we leaked to the media.
The group also wants the school board to appoint an outside official as interim schools superintendent instead of allowing Eric Byrne, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, to fill as the post temporarily.
“Byrne should be disqualified because of his close association to McKay and possible responsibility for the administration's failures of leadership," Wedge said.
Other recommendations include holding an independent investigation with outside counsel to be hired by the school board but directly managed by an outside group of town residents; settling all seven of the civil lawsuits against the district from student sex-abuse accusers; suspending Greeley Principal Robert Rhodes until the investigation determines how he handled the situation; and either offering counseling to current and former students, or paying for outside therapy if offers to use the former are declined.
“FACTS believes, above all else, that our community must heal, and that the right way to do that is to openly and transparently figure out what went wrong," Wedge said.
Wedge started his press conference on the lawn in front of the Ed Center, which is the district's administrative building. However, New Castle Police were called and asked for him to leave. Wedge then moved the press conference to a sidewalk on the other side of the entranceway.
Police were also called on Wedge when he interrupted board member Jeffrey Mester during remarks at an Oct. 18 board meeting. The board went into recess after Wedge interrupted and reconvened the meeting with a police presence.
Wedge, stating that Monday marked the third time in which police were called on the district's behalf, claimed that the district was trying to censor him.
Greeley parent Sandy Nohavicka, whose son was in the theater program during Schraufnagel's last school year at the helm, was on hand for Wedge's press conference.
Asked about McKay's resignation, she said, “I'm not surprised."
Nohavicka also said that she hopes McKay does not get a “nice chunk of change for this," referring to severance terms.
Wedge, meanwhile, called for McKay's pension to be reduced and expressed concern over the possible size of any exit compensation.
Criminal charges are pending against Schraufnagel, who worked at Greeley from 2003 to 2015, along with the civil suits against him and the district. Previous coverage of Schraufnagel can be found here.
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