Online petition seeks to restore Meiss as band director

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An online petition is seeking to restore Jacob Meiss as director of the Rome Free Academy marching band for the 2019-2020 school year that would begin July 1.

The petition, which was started at www.change.org about three days ago by Joseph Gazzilli according to the website, had gathered more than 560 signers as of this morning and a message at the site indicates “Let’s get to 1,000.” The petition is to the Rome City School District, the website says.

“We the undersigned believe that the termination of Mr. Jacob Meiss’ direction of Rome Free Academy Marching Band is completely unjustifiable and demand that he is granted full restoration of director for RFA Marching Band 2019-2020, effective immediately,” the petition says.

As part of a settlement agreement approved Dec. 6 by the Board of Education in a 6-1 vote, Meiss will not apply for and will not be appointed as the marching band director either for games or competitive field band for the 2019-2020 school year; an RFA music teacher who is tenured, Meiss has been the band director for about nine years, and the band in October won a state championship in its competitive category. The agreement also included Meiss receiving a letter of reprimand and called for him to participate in professional development opportunities involving student management and interpersonal skills.

The agreement referred to school district concerns relating to conduct by Meiss involving adherence to the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), his interaction with students and other staff members, his demeanor and his professional judgment. DASA is a state Education Department law that seeks to provide students with an environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.

The settlement agreement was signed by Meiss, school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake, and Rome Teachers Association President Robert Wood. Meiss is a member of the association.

The petition in support of Meiss says “Mr. Meiss not only teaches you how to play an instrument or to spin a flag but he also teaches what it means to step up and be a leader and vital requirements to be part of a team that grows and learns from one another.

“Mr. Meiss has dedicated his life to the music department in so many ways. He has run many successful musicals, he is the director of an amazing show choir, and has led his very own marching band to State Champions in Large School 3 Division,” the petition adds. “These accomplishments show nothing more than hard work and determination.”

Board of Education President Paul Fitzpatrick, when asked this morning whether he was aware of the petition, said he was not. He commented “I suppose it is not unexpected,” and when asked why he added “because I know he’s very popular,” referring to Meiss.

Fitzpatrick otherwise had no reaction to the petition.

The school board’s next scheduled meeting is Thursday at the school district office, 409 Bell Road, with the regular open session expected to begin at 6:30 p.m. following a 5:45 p.m. closed executive session to hear an RAA (Rome Administrators Association) grievance.

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