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North Stonington school board called ‘dysfunctional'

By Sasha Goldstein

Publication: theday.com

Published May 09. 2012 9:00PM   Updated May 10. 2012 12:36AM

North Stonington — A student, a parent and a teacher publicly admonished the Board of Education Wednesday for being "dysfunctional" and "embarrassing."

The comments came during the public comment portion of a meeting that included yelling among board members. At the end of the meeting, the board made a motion to go into an unscheduled executive session to talk about "Board of Education operations."

Wheeler High School senior class President Connor Yakaitis told the board it was more concerned with "petty partisan bickering, finger-pointing and yelling," than with the district and its students.

Connor spoke of disrepair in the school, including a roof that leaks during rainstorms. The constant fighting among school leaders has led to the disintegration of the "physical integrity" of the school and morale of the students.

After he finished, the crowd in the district's music room, where board meetings are held, applauded.

Jill Skidgell, the high and middle school family and consumer science teacher, said it has "been a bad year," beginning with Tropical Storm Irene and continuing with negative news about the board.

A forensic audit is under way to examine discrepancies found in the use of a district credit card held by retiring Superintendent Natalie Pukas. And in April, a polarized board unsuccessfully tried to remove Darren Robert from his post as chairman.

Connor's father, Tim Yakaitis, told the board his "jaw dropped" during the meeting.

"If my kids behaved like this, I'd put them in time out in separate corners of the room," he said, adding later, "You guys need a time out. This is dysfunctional."

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