The primary responsibility of the Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education is to promote the welfare and education of students. Meeting that responsibility requires the board to balance many interests with a primary focus on ensuring a quality education for our students.
In recent weeks, select community members have chosen to focus on a narrow issue involving the use of some inappropriate language by the superintendent of schools in a private conversation with the high school principal. It is puzzling how this incident came to light, and while some may desire to discuss personnel issues publicly, it would be inappropriate and non-productive for the board to do so at this time. The community can be assured that not only does the district have very clear policies to ensure students and employees enjoy a discrimination- and harassment-free environment; these policies have been followed.
At the most recent board meeting and at a student rally just yesterday (Wednesday), the board heard calls for resignations and terminations. The board welcomes public comments and supports the rights of our community members to speak their minds. We applaud students for their interest in the school and for vocalizing their concerns. The board also shares the values of the Lake Placid community and takes very seriously what the community has said.
Equally, the board recognizes Superintendent Richards' significant contributions to our district: integrating technology in classrooms, managing a budget with the board which resulted in few layoffs and working to expand the student population of the Lake Placid Central School with new students from other regions. The board also knows Dr. Richards is a professional and does not have a pattern of using inappropriate language. This is why the board, after careful consideration and discussion, has accepted the superintendent's apology and his assurance that he sincerely regrets the use of inappropriate language. The board has heard the calls for resignation or termination and that is not an action that we will be taking at this time.
Lake Placid Central School District, like many districts across the state, faces significant issues which impact taxpayers, students and teachers. Over the next five months, the board and district voters will be faced with determining how to continue providing a first-rate education at a reasonable cost. At the same time, state mandates remain, and the tax-cap risk of squeezing funds for programs which benefit students will be in place. Effectively balancing the need to provide a stellar education with limited resources is the most important challenge - for all of us.
The board is confident in Dr. Richards' ability to lead through these challenges and work constructively with the entire community. The board is equally confident in the community and students to continue to share constructive ideas which enhance our ability to ensure the success of our students.
On behalf of the entire board I ask that we work together to focus on the needs of our students and faculty to ensure a productive, successful future.