"It looks racist," Iesha Brown, a Lakeview resident told the Malverne school board Wednesday night regarding the district's decision to give some of the field time she says was originally alloted to the Malverne Wildcats youth football program to Our Lady of Lourdes CYO Soccer.
As a proud parent of a Wildcats All-American player and someone who dedicates much time to the league, Brown questioned how the district is distributing use of its new, artificial turf field, which was installed last fall.
"I don't understand how you can submit a permit for something that was already designed for another program," she asked at the Sept. 12 school board meeting. "If the Wildcats already had the field, how are you going to say, 'Sunday, CYO is going to be there? Last time I checked, we were supposed to have the field for X amount of games, now we're being told ... we're moving because another organization seems to be more important than the Wildcats."
Brown later told Patch that the Wildcats' permit for the turf field was approved in February, and said changing the procedure now, after events have been scheduled, is "not ethical. "What would be the point of a permit if you are not honoring the process of submission and approval?" she asked, and questioned why CYO couldn't use the district's other fields.
Wildcats President and Board of Education Trustee Michael Taylor did not speak up on the issue during the meeting, and when contacted by Patch, he declined the opportunity to comment.
According to OLL CYO President Liz Westlake, the district told her they mistakenly issued a permit to the Malverne Wildcats for the turf field, and her organizaton had been trying since August to arrange a meeting with the district and Taylor to discuss field use due to all of the conflicts. She said the meeting was finally held on Sept. 11, at Coach Taylor's request, however, he did not show up. At that time, Westlake said the district gave CYO the fields for Sundays after 1 p.m. while the Wildcats were given Sunday mornings and any Saturdays that the high school sports teams do not need the field.
But on Thursday, Westlake says she was contacted by the district and told that the issue is being revisited and that CYO was no longer permitted to use the turf on Sundays.
"We are in the process of working out a schedule for the programs, CYO and the Wildcats, to share the turf on weekends," Spiro Colaitis, assistant superintendent of operations for the Malverne School District told Patch Friday morning. "This is a classic case of too many groups chasing too few resources. At the end of the day, everyone will not be happy, but they will all get a piece of the pie."
By Friday at noon, Westlake found out that OLL will have the field on Saturdays while the Wildcats are keeping it for Sundays.
On a related note, the district is currently updating its facilities use policy, which could further impact community sports groups. Both the Wildcats and OLL have been vetted and meet the current residency requirements, which state that an organization's membership must be comprised of a minimum of 50 percent district residents, according to Colaitis. The latest version of the drafted policy presented Wednesday maintains the 50 percent requirement, but Trustee Gina Genti said she thinks this figure "is too low."
Westlake said OLL CYO's roster is comprised of about 66 percent district residents. Taylor would not provide statistics for his Wildcats.
Sonia Avery Williams, a Lakeview parent who recently pulled her son off the Wildcats team, alleged at the meeting that "a huge percentage of kids from Queens, specifically Rosedale," were on his team.