DRYDEN, NY – On Monday, the Dryden School District Board of Education voted 6-3 in favor of terminating music teacher Krista Easton.

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About twenty people spoke at the packed meeting, including several students. All but one spoke in favor of keeping Easton.

Following an announcement early in February that Easton would not be granted tenure following her two-year probationary contract, the community began to rally in support of the teacher and Dryden’s music program.

Easton has made a big impact on many students in the district. During this meeting and two previous board meetings, as well as on the Facebook group “Project Easton,” students expressed how Easton engendered in many a love of a music, but also taught valuable life lessons about love and respect.

On Feb. 25, Easton was escorted off school grounds and placed on leave due to a confidential personnel issue. This surprised and distressed her supporters, as her contract wasn’t set to expire until May.

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While most of those who spoke focused on what Easton brought to Dryden’s music program and the positive impact she made on her students, some expressed their anger over what they viewed as a mishandling of the situation on the part of the administration.

School board president Karin Lamotte attempted to divert any speakers whose comments had a negative bent, saying that such comments were against the rules. Those gathered did not respond well to that, as cross-talk erupted and people complained about censorship and the school board quashing comments that it didn’t want to hear.

After the public comment period, the meeting proceeded as normal, those assembled waiting patiently for the vote that would come almost an hour later.

It was almost anti-climactic: after all the passion and occasional outrage expressed by parents and students, only two school board members spoke.

Fred Bachner Jr. moved to postpone the vote, as many members of the public had requested. It was voted down 3-6.

Board member Lawrence Lyon said, “Of all the personnel matters that have come before us during my almost 7 years, I am probably best informed on this one, and I’m very comfortable with how I’ll be voting.” Lyon voted in favor.

Following the vote, the majority of those in attendance filed out of the school’s cafeteria quietly. In the halls, supporters expressed both sadness and anger. While some hugged and cried, others could heard planning strategy for the next round of school board elections.

(Featured photo courtesy of Project Easton Facebook page)

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.