March 14th, 2012
Setting the record straight regarding NFA attendance
Recently the Times Herald Record harshly criticized the way the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education handled the attendance issues of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Boys’ Basketball Team. We are writing to set the record straight. The implications were that the school board had done little or anything about the problem, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Board of Education was working on the issue of athletes cutting classes before the series of stories began in the Times Herald Record. We were already taking steps to make sure that our basketball players were held to the same standards as all students in our District.
Since the Board started its investigation regarding this issue, a number of actions have been taken. We had a forensic audit to prove the cuts occurred. We had an independent expert check the computerized attendance programs to see how the cuts were cleared. We had our lawyers investigate to determine if we could prove who authorized the cuts to be cleared. We have had our human resources staff question the teachers, administrators and civil service employees who might have been involved or have information about the attendance of the basketball players. We have a new Varsity Basketball Coach and have accepted the retirement of the Athletic Director and the High School Executive Principal.
It should also be noted that this small handful of basketball players were well aware of the 90% attendance rule and kept just below the violation level. It is also clear that they did the majority of their cutting in the marking periods outside the basketball season. In addition, hundreds of the reported unexcused absences were cleared by the students‘ parents. As a result, and to attempt to prevent abuse, we have revised our student attendance policies and implemented a new software system for attendance records.
While not everyone will ever agree on how this situation was handled, it should be noted that the Board of Education acted upon the information that was given to them by teachers and administrators and on the advice of Counsel. The Attorney clearly stated in a public statement at the June 2011 Board of Education meeting, “The Board of Education over the past few years made inquiries into attendance issues including concerns that student athletes had excessive absences and were still allowed to participate in team sports. The Board of Education was categorically assured by administrators and coaches that Policies 5200 and 5441 were being strictly enforced - clearly that was not the case”.
The Board can only act and make decisions based on proven facts. We cannot act upon or vote on innuendo, rumor, hearsay or speculation. The critical issues in this matter have been fully exposed. Our policies have been revised and the current attendance policy is working effectively. It is time to focus positive energy towards the betterment of our schools and the success of all of our students.
Board of Education
Newburgh Enlarged City School District