Milford Superintendent Berates County Board
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Failure over four months to alert Milford Central School about Sgt. Ros Devlin’s alleged threat to “shoot up” MCS and Oneonta schools is “totally unacceptable,” the school’s new superintendent, Mark A. Place, told the county Board of Representatives this morning.
“Each day we are held responsible for keeping safe over 400 students and 100 employees,” Place said, reading from a letter to the county board. “We do not take this responsibility lightly. To not be notified of a specific and potentially lethal threat against our school was an egregious error.”
It was four months between the alleged threat on Jan. 5 by Sheriff Richard J. Devlin’s son and the April 4 news report on www.allotsego.com that alerted the schools and the public at large, based on court documents made public by the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee.
Place encouraged the county board to review the “standard operating procedure” of alerting school superintendents of threats and, “if no such procedures exist, we request that they be created.”
Questioned after his remarks, Place, who succeeded the retiring Peter Livshin at the start of this school year, pointed out that Ros Devlin is an MCS graduate and familiar to the staff there; if he had rung the buzzer at the school’s entrance, staff would likely have buzzed the deputy in without a second thought.
Later in today’s meeting, Place’s comments, as well as an April 24 letter to school superintendents from county board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, and three of her allies on the board – Republicans Ed Frazier of Unadilla, Craig Gelbsman of Oneonta, and Meg Kennedy of Mount Vision – was debated by the county reps.
County Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington Flats, pointed out that, normally, the sheriff’s department would have alerted the schools to any threat. Given that the sheriff’s department and its personnel were the topic of this investigation, that didn’t happen.
“I was furious the schools were not notified,” said county Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, who has three of Oneonta’s schools in his district. “I am still furious they were not notified.”
County Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, acknowledged “we all will admit a ball was dropped.” But he pointed out that what happened since the allegations surfaced – the county board’s Public Safety Committee trying to investigate the sheriff’s department – is unprecedented.
“This is all new to us,” agreed Gelbsman, who serves on the Public Safety Committee.