Letter from the Board President:
Watkins Glen School Board President Kelly McCarthy wrote a lengthy letter to The Odessa File following the arrest of Kristina Hansen on a trespass charge as Hansen was walking on a school sidewalk on the way to a public School Board meeting on March 21. The pertinent parts of the letter are presented here as counterbalance to the Notice of Claim delivered to the school district, to Superintendent Tom Phillips and to McCarthy as the first step in a lawsuit being filed by Hansen through her attorneys. A clarification and two Editor's notes were added herein.
"Friday, March 11, was an in-service day for faculty and staff. Superintendent Phillips was scheduled to present on the State of the District at 8 am. School board members were invited at our March 2 meeting to attend if our schedules permitted. Four of us were in attendance that day to listen and then leave after the presentation.
"Before I arrived, Ms. Hansen waited to enter, because it was not a public meeting and a school key card was required to open the door, until one of our board members unlocked the door. Then Ms. Hansen pushed past to enter the building. Superintendent Phillips informed her the meeting was not public and she needed to leave. She refused to do so at his requests, refused again at School Resource Officer Waite’s request and finally the police had to be called to escort her from the building and watch until she left the grounds.The meeting was not public. Ms. Hansen caused a disruption by demanding to attend, by repeatedly asking for me although I was not yet present and then not leaving after multiple requests by multiple district personnel. (Editor's clarification: A security videotape shows Hansen never got past the entrance vestibule.)
"A letter drafted by the school attorney, was signed for by Ms. Hansen on Monday March 14, following that incident, requiring her to request permission from the Superintendent to be on the district grounds going forward.
"I received an email, also sent to the superintendent and the building principals, with an attachment addressed to me from Ms. Hansen on the March 14 stating she will not comply with the terms of the registered letter as she felt she was not disruptive though “It is true that I refused the command to leave.” Superintendent Phillips confirmed to her via email the district intends to adhere to the terms of that letter.
"Due to her version of the disruption described in her refusal, I followed up with other witnesses to her entering the building that Friday morning and could not find anyone to corroborate her version of Superintendent Phillip’s demeanor and no flailing was evident on the surveillance video. (Editor's note: The videotape shows that Phillips was in fact waving his arms in what could be construed as an aggressive manner.)
"Later on March 14, I was party to an email request to SRO Waite to save the surveillance video to back up her claim. I spoke with the superintendent and asked that he have SRO Waite provide the video to her.
"On Monday, March 21, SRO Waite called Ms. Hansen to reiterate the process for her to gain access to the board meeting scheduled for that evening and the consequences of her not following it. Her response was that the Superintendent has no standing and she would attend the meeting. The Village Police were only waiting because of her email to SRO Waite and myself of her intent, and that phone conversation. Ms. Hansen had also alerted the media in order to make that headline with accompanying photos. (Editor's note: That statement has no basis in fact.) I didn’t receive that email until after the board meeting and executive session were over late Monday evening.
"In summary, Ms. Hansen could have attended the school board meeting without issue had she followed the process outlined in the letter. She deliberately chose to create a spectacle instead."
WG School Board President