Controversial Mount Pleasant school to accept migrant children

Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi says the JCCA Cottage School has shared in the coming weeks that it will take in up to 25 migrant children with emotional and/or behavioral issues.

Veronica Jean Seltzer

Oct 30, 2023, 10:34 PM

Updated 201 days ago


Migrant children will be housed at a controversial Mt. Pleasant school, according to the town supervisor.
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi says the JCCA Cottage School has shared in the coming weeks that it will take in up to 25 migrant children with emotional and/or behavioral issues.
News 12 has reported on years of issues between the town and the school, including off-campus incidents like robberies and on-campus attacks between students.
Now, Supervisor Fulgenzi says the school has accepted the migrant children without discussion with the town.
"Unfortunately once again, new information was dropped on us without warning or discussion, continuing a pattern that we have become all too familiar with,” he said. “Last spring after learning that migrant children and possibly families were headed to the Cottage School, I declared a state of emergency in the town. I received criticism for ‘overreacting' with JCCA officials denying they would be a destination. The facts now speak for themselves.”
JCCA writes in a statement, "JCCA remains deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our clients, staff, and community. As such, workplace safety and regulatory compliance are among our highest priorities. Since the end of May 2023, JCCA has submitted multiple and frequent requests to meet with town leadership. Unfortunately, the first time they agreed to a meeting was late October."
Supervisor Fulgenzi says the school is doing major construction at the property without permits. He vows to take legal action to block it.
"The duplicity of the JCCA is astounding,” according to his written statement. “The Town Building Department has recently issued multiple stop-work orders after inspectors found major renovation work underway on residential cottages at the property without permits for plumbing, electrical and other work. But it did not stop there. They also told us that a boring machine was being brought to the site. This, too, would require a permit. To date, none has been filed.”
He adds, "This brazen disregard for our community and the regulations that apply to all construction work is what we have come to expect from the JCCA, and it will not be tolerated...our building inspector and Town Attorney were recently denied entry to the property when they went to inspect the construction, a further indication of the JCCA's utter disregard for the community."
"We continue to strive for a productive and collaborative working relationship with the Town of Mount Pleasant and have never refused any Town official requesting reasonable access to our campus, including building inspectors or Town attorneys," the JCCA writes.
Fulgenzi says the Town will object to any additional residents being allowed to enter on the basis that the JCCA has not complied with town building codes.
Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky says the Cottage School is prepared to handle the unaccompanied children:
“For the past several months, JCCA has made clear to all stakeholders that a limited number of children will be placed at the Cottage School campus by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is a matter that has been discussed at the coordinating meetings attended by Supervisor Fulgenzi, Mount Pleasant Police Chief Oliva, representatives from JCCA and OCFS, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and me. Given JCCA’s expertise and preparedness, as well as the fact that the campus is currently operating beneath capacity, the Cottage School is uniquely positioned to accept and assist these 24 unaccompanied children. All other matters raised by the supervisor are in the process of being resolved. JCCA has kept all stakeholders updated about their legal counsel’s ongoing communications with the Town attorney regarding permitting, inspections, and the boring sampling needed to test their groundwater.”

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