ROME — At the Rome City School District Board of Education’s regular meeting on Thursday, February 28, the board faced criticism for its handling of Vice President Tanya Davis’s actions at a Jan. 25 varsity basketball game. .
Davis allegedly yelled her disagreement with decisions made by the RFA varsity basketball coaches during a home game against Baldwinsville on Tuesday, Jan. 25, as well as yelling at a player, including calling him a derogatory name, though she He has unequivocally denied having done so.
Opposition to the board’s handling of a similar incident in late June 2021, where Davis was accused of verbally harassing the RFA varsity lacrosse coach in the presence of multiple witnesses outside the Franklin Hotel in Rome, where he had just finished to wrap up the team’s annual banquet. . Following that incident, Davis opened the annual reorganization meeting a week later with a short statement of apology and was then immediately nominated for vice president and voted almost unanimously to fill that position, with the only vote against being board member Joe Mellace.
An online petition with nearly 800 signatures was referenced at the February 28 board meeting, calling for Davis to resign or be removed from the board of education (something the board has no authority to do in response to an incident like this). ). A formal investigation into the incident is being conducted by the board’s legal counsel and is still in progress, district officials said.
Rome resident Dennis Perfetti, who identified himself as a member of the Rome community who did not currently have a student in the district, said “772 signatures, Tanya, asking you to resign. You can’t keep doing this,” Perfetti appealed. “It’s hard enough to get taxpayers in this city. But do you have to worry about a board member when you’re crossing the street?
At this point in Perfetti’s comments, Nash interrupted him to say, effectively, that no comment could be made about “the incident under investigation.” In fact, the guidelines governing public comment do not prohibit comment on any subject, as long as it is done respectfully.
“I’m talking about all the incidents,” Perfetti replied. “No one knows because you’re sweeping it under the rug. Enough is enough, don’t you think?
Perfetti said: “All this stuff going up to the base. If you move and read the reviews of all the school districts. You will not move to Rome for things like this.
“We all get hot at basketball games. Let them fix it. Let the coach figure it out. You hired a trainer. You don’t like how he’s doing his job? Fire him,” Perfetti told Davis, “but you can’t insult him from the stands. It’s enough. It is time for him to resign.”
Emily DiBari, a Rome resident and mother of two boys, one a third grader at Ridge Mills Elementary School, provided members with a booklet that was a primer on the code of conduct for board members, directing your attention specifically to “Policy 10 -26.”
“My son is a third grader who loves to play basketball and was very excited to play his favorite sport at his favorite school,” shared DiBari, who referred to a recreational basketball league for grades 3 through 6, “ but the league was cancelled. for inappropriate parental behavior at games.”
He then appealed to the father in each member as he shared his task of explaining to his son why he was now unable to play basketball, not because of what he or his teammates or opponents had done, but because of what the adults had done. .
“This district has a long-standing set of expectations for conduct on school property and at school functions,” DiBari reminded the board.
DiBari clarified that Davis is accused of calling a student-athlete “the name of a genital” in front of hundreds of witnesses.
“Witnesses have seen the behavior before,” DiBari said, “but are afraid to come forward because they work in the district.”
DiBari also said RFA students have signed a petition that is being distributed asking that Davis resign or be removed because “they witnessed or have been victims of bullying.”
“It violates the code of conduct and has no place on the board,” DiBari said of the behavior Davis has been accused of, “We will not be bullied or called harassers for standing up for teachers, coaches, employees and especially students. ”
While acknowledging that he had not planned to speak that evening, Jackie Nelson, president of the Rome Chapter of the NAACP, requested the courtesy of adding a few offhand comments, which he did.
“A few weeks ago you and I had a conversation about some of the shenanigans that have been going on. You told me the community will decide… will have a say,” Nelson said, primarily to Nash. “Well, the community is here tonight, so I hope you’ll consider… the board member, his comments, the grade ranking. I really hope you’re taking this seriously tonight.”
When Nelson’s comments were met with applause from the meeting, Nash responded, “We certainly are.”