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Clifton-Fine Students are unhappy with school board

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STAR LAKE — Clifton-Fine Central School students are protesting the board’s recent decisions, which include terminating the contracts of interim Principal Brian S. Buchanan and interim Superintendent Susan O. Shene.

“We’re not oblivious to what’s going on. We care about the decisions that are made,” senior Syrena K. Haen said. “We know most of the community’s on our side. We know most of the teachers are on our side.”

The community has been in turmoil since the failure of contract negotiations with Mrs. Shene for her to become superintendent.

Mrs. Shene has been on a leave of absence as principal, so her return to that position meant Mr. Buchanan would lose his job.

On April 8, the school board appointed Regina C. Yeo as superintendent. At a special meeting Wednesday, the school board gave Mr. Buchanan and Mrs. Shene 30-day notices terminating their contracts as interim principal and interim superintendent, respectively.

Although the school board did not specify the reason for the terminations, Mr. Buchanan was the subject of a complaint about his physical treatment of a student. A tape of the incident was reviewed by state police, who decided that Mr. Buchanan’s actions were justified.

Miss Haen said students are tired of hearing board members talk about how they care about students when they do not seek their opinion.

“Never once did they meet with us,” Miss Haen said.

About 40 high school students had a sit-in Friday morning in the lobby of the school, but most returned to class after Mrs. Shene told them that it was the improper place for a protest and that they would be disciplined if they remained.

Students in support of Mr. Buchanan wore black armbands with red stripes. Some teachers also displayed black rectangles with red stripes on their doors, Miss Haen said.

“I know faculty feel they’ve been wronged,” she said. “Mr. Buchanan’s been collateral damage for them going after Susan Shene.”

Students are organizing a protest to take place during the board’s 6 p.m. Monday meeting in the auditorium and are inviting community members to join them.

“We decided that was the most effective way to get our voice across, not that we’re listened to,” Miss Haen said.

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