LocalSYR

Teacher complaint sparks debate about road conditions around deadly accident

Parents and at least one teacher are embroiled in a debate with Holland Patent School District administration after a student died in a car accident on Tuesday.
Holland Patent (WSYR-TV) – Parents and at least one teacher are embroiled in a debate with Holland Patent School District administration after a student died in a car accident on Tuesday.

Teacher Phil Lucason laid the blame at the feet of Superintendent Kathy Davis in a post on WKTV's Facebook page.

He says the accident that led to the death of 16-year-old Anusha Yagey could have been avoided if the district had closed because of driving conditions.

“In the end a series of unfortunate events started by Kathy Davis led to the loss of a young man who was well liked by his peers, coaches, and teachers alike and loved deeply by his family who would have never knowingly put him in harms way (as her notice home implied). No one will ever know where his potential would have taken him, but we are all sad that we won't," Lucason wrote on Wednesday.

Yagey was critically injured when a car driven by his brother – 17-year-old Joseph Yagey – moved into the path of an oncoming box truck while they were on their way to school on State Route 365 in the town of Floyd.

Joseph Yagey suffered injuries that were not considered life threatening by police.

The biology teacher and cross country coach wrote that he believes an investigation into Davis should be launched.

"I am hoping that there is a full investigation into the call made by Kathy Davis. It was the worst road conditions that I have ever seen going into school in the morning.”

Lucason added that other school districts delayed opening in order to assess weather and driving conditions and went on to call into question Davis’ judgment during past storms.

“There is a history of ignoring the road conditions by Kathy Davis if she does not want to cancel or delay school such when the elementary state assessments were being held and there was icy conditions that would have warrented [sic] a delay at the minimum. Was there something so pressing that she did not want to postpone or reschedule that morning - maybe with an investigation we may find out,” Lucason wrote.

Davis issued a statement late Friday morning referencing the incident and her judgment in keeping school open.

She noted that 11 other districts in the Holland Patent area remained open and that the school’s procedure was consistent with its policies.

“We followed our same time tested procedures that we have followed over the past 30 years,” she wrote in the statement.

She also noted that her personal interaction with Anusha Yagey made the incident particularly difficult.

“My heart is heavy with grief. This tragedy has affected me in many ways. Anusha was a wonderful child who I had the great opportunity to work with over the years to ensure his transition to our country and the school district. On a personal note, this a loss that will always be in my heart and mind,” she wrote.

According to WUTR, several parents expressed outrage at the fact that the schools remained open during a Friday afternoon meeting, but the parents of fallen teenager said the questions dishonored his memory.

Statement from the Superintendent:

Media Release – Holland Patent Schools

I am writing today because there have been many questions raised regarding the school opening decision on Tuesday. On Tuesday, a terribly tragedy struck one of our district students and families. I am sharing this information with you to put those questions to rest.

Many factors are considered on school delays and closings. None of them supersede safety. The weather conditions were not inconsistent with winter conditions in upstate N.Y. Weather here is more difficult than in other districts. We sit at the foothills of the Adirondacks and we are the largest school geographically in Oneida County taking in ten townships with varying weather patterns. All weather is local. 11 surrounding schools in our component area remained opened on Tuesday, February 12, 2012. We followed our same time tested procedures that we have followed over the past 30 years.

Every year it is normal for parents and other concerned people to question how school closing decisions are made. Therefore, every year, for the past eleven years. it has been our responsibility to send this snow day letter throughout the year, it is posted on our web site, and we routinely provide copies of the letter to anyone who asks. I did so again on Tuesday, February 12, due to the number of requests we were receiving.

My heart is heavy with grief. This tragedy has affected me in many ways. Anusha was a wonderful child who I had the great opportunity to work with over the years to ensure his transition to our country and the school district. On a personal note, this a loss that will always be in my heart and mind.


Facebook post by Phil Lucason

"The sorrow and pain felt by the Holland Patent school community was second to none today. The family is well respected and liked both in and out of the school community and there are many people praying for them through the loss of Anusha. I am hoping that there is a full investigation into the call made by Kathy Davis. It was the worst road conditions that I have ever seen going into school in the morning. There were other local districts that had delays to assess the situation and give the road crews time to make the roads safer for students to get into school. It would be interesting to see if the highway department supervisors were called and all gave the green light. Also, Chris Roberts (the transportation director who she is trying to use as a human shield) influences the decision and relies on information, but does not have the final say. When she makes the call to have school it is understood that it is safe for busses to be on the roads, but many bus drivers were terrified of the conditions that they were being made to drive in and experienced dangerous conditions (we are lucky that they all made it safely). To those who say that the family should have put their child on the bus because of bad road condtions just made the exact point yourselves (it was bad and the busses should not have been put at risk either). I witnessed two busses fishtailing up the hill to the high school, cars stuck on the high school hill, and even our assistant principal with four wheel drive did not make it on his first attempt and ended off the road. There have been three bus accidents this year related to bad weather in the district - most people would pay attention to this when they are responsible for children or any other person. The only excused absences are medical and death in the family - not bad weather. If the superintendent declares that the roads are safe to open school then it is the parents expectation to make sure their child attends school on time (part of being a good parent) - bad weather has never excused a student when school is in session. There is a history of ignoring the road conditions by Kathy Davis if she does not want to cancel or delay school such when the elementary state assessments were being held and there was icy conditions that would have warrented a delay at the minimum. Was there something so pressing that she did not want to postpone or reschedule that morning - maybe with an investigation we may find out. In the end a series of unfortunate events started by Kathy Davis led to the loss of a young man who was well liked by his peers, coaches, and teachers alike and loved deeply by his family who would have never knowingly put him in harms way (as her notice home implied). No one will ever know where his potential would have taken him, but we are all sad that we won't."

Page: [[$index + 1]]