To The Editor:
I am writing this letter in response to the June 20 letter to the editor from Michael Conners Jr., sub-chief for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
I am disappointed by the decision of Mr. Conners, a community leader, to perpetuate misconceptions which encourage feelings of distrust based on race.
The Salmon River Central School District employs the most Native American professionals in the state of New York. Mr. Conners claim of discrimination in this situation devalues tenured Native American professionals dedicated to the education of our children. Claims of discrimination in this situation only serve to cause ill feelings within the school community as well as surrounding communities.
I am a Native American who chose the profession of education. I have been employed by the Salmon River Central School District for 13 years: five years as a teacher and eight years as an administrator.
I have been tenured three times in the Salmon River Central School District: Once as a teacher, once as an assistant principal and once as an elementary principal.
The purpose of tenure within the field of education is to allow a three-year probationary period where the educator is closely evaluated to ensure competency, work ethic, and commitment to provide the best instruction for students. The process of tenure allows our children to have the most qualified, capable and competent professionals available. I support the tenure process.
The Salmon River Central School Board of Education is an elected entity, chosen by community voters from Fort Covington, Westville, Bombay and Akwesasne. Decisions are made by the board based on majority vote. The law ensures that board members have equal voice in decision making. Mr. Conners implication that a select few members are able to determine board decisions is inaccurate.
Moreover, I would like to point out that this same board that Mr. Conners accuses of discrimination recently appointed a Native American to a vacant board seat, ensuring Native representation on the Board of Education. Given all of this information, it is very difficult to support the misguided claim of discrimination.
In summary, I am a Native American professional, living on the reservation. I received multiple tenures, most recently as elementary principal, based on my credentials and competency, not my race.
In this situation I cannot agree with Mr. Conners endorsement of a lawsuit based on discrimination and mental anguish. It would be unfounded.