After the board of education meeting on Thursday night, students in the Manhasset Secondary School discussed what they should do the next day to implore the firing of Manhasset Superintendent of Schools Dr. Vincent Butera. They were not the only ones.
Teachers across the school district dressed in black the next day. Munsey Park school teachers lined up outside the school building before school started at 9 a.m. Secondary School teachers plan to have an organized sit-in on Monday.
Stacey Kelly, a Manhasset parent, started an online petition, “Dr. Butera must be terminated.” The petition has garnered 719 signatures, as of publication.
High school students decided to do a walkout protest during fifth period on Friday.
As 12:26 p.m., the start time of 5th period during shortened class periods, approached, students left the building and walked to the adjacent field. They started to chant “Hey, hey, oh, oh, Butera has got to go.”
Three seniors, Eunice Choi, Kaitlyn Clarke and Mir Zayid Alam, led and spoke to the group of students that also included Principal Dr. Dean Schlanger.
“Our motto is literally excellence through effort, and I cannot comprehend how a blue-ribbon school that preaches a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment can continually place of one man,” Eunice Choi, President of the class of 2021, said. “Prioritizing one man’s job over the safety and comfort of thousands of students while preaching values of equality seems contradictory. It’s not just a problem with the female students feeling uncomfortable because Butera is looking at them weirdly in the hallways. It’s a matter of all students, how are we teaching our children?”
As the crowd started to chant “Butera has got to go,” again, Schlanger came to the front of the group to speak.
“Clearly this has been an awful time,” Schlanger said to the group that was made up of majority seniors. “We have to continue to stay together. I applaud you for your beliefs and standing up for what you think is right. I hear you. I don’t know a lot of the details, like many of us don’t. This isn’t how we’re going to define your senior year. This morning I sent all of you, the list of events, how we’re going to finish the year we’ve been spending hours and hours making sure that you can have everything in place that you deserve before you graduate. So let’s keep that in perspective—”
“—I have two sisters,” senior Camron Wright said, interrupting Schlanger. “You’re talking about our senior year, this is serious. You’re talking about our senior year events; we’re not worried about that.”
Students cheered and some yelled, asking Schlanger, why Butera has not been fired yet.
“I hear you, we hear you,” Schlanger responded. “Manhasset makes me proud. I’m a very fortunate principal. I’ll do anything for you guys. We’re not going to let this define your senior year. There’s a lot of great things ahead. Obviously, the board of education is doing their role. We’re going to stay together. We’re going to heal through this together and be in a better place.”
Eventually, the crowd of students dispersed, but their anger and frustration at the board of education and Butera did not.
“I think [the board] is protecting him because they don’t like change,” Clarke told the Manhasset Press. “They don’t want to move forward. Maybe this has happened before and they’re afraid more things will come out. If he’s not fired and if he’s standing on stage at graduation and we have to shake his hand, I think we will all not shake his hand. We’re all going to have our parents vote for the board and vote against those board members that are trying to keep him in.”