Enforcement of ’75 policy has dance school owners kicking

Enforcement of ’75 policy has
dance school owners kicking

The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education’s decision to enforce a 27-year-old policy that prohibits its six buildings from being rented to businesses has upset the owners of at least one local dance school.

In a correspondence dated Oct. 7, Jody Myslinski and Joelle Juliano, co-owners of the Rising Stars School of Dance and Performing Arts, Manalapan, sent a letter to Superintendent of Schools James Wasser after their request to use Manal-apan High School was turned down.

"We were upset to learn that it might not be possible to utilize the facilities this year," they wrote.

In the past, the dance school used the facilities at Manalapan High School for its recitals, the latest held June 11-12, 2001.

During a review and update of the district’s policy manual it was determined on April 16, 2001, that policy No. 7510, which had been in effect since Dec. 15, 1975, would now be fully enforced.

Business Administrator Dr. Joan Nesen-kar Saylor said, "When we did the entire policy manual review, we realized the policy was not being followed. What we have now is enforcement of the policy."

The policy indicates that the district’s six schools may not be used by commercial firms. Only nonprofit charitable groups serving the youth of the regional community and nonprofit charitable adult groups can use the facilities.

"We had to be careful of the interpretation of (the term) commercial group," Wasser said. "If the group that wants to use the facilities is a nonprofit organization, they can."

The superintendent said church and synagogue groups can use the facilities. He said the dance school is a for-profit operation that charges admission to its events.

"They obviously make a profit for this dance organization," the superintendent said. "We are strictly enforcing the definition of ‘commercial group.’ If they cannot provide us with the nonprofit status and the documentation that’s required in the use of the facilities, then they are denied."

The superintendent said the Rising Stars school was allowed to use the facility in June 2001 due to an administrative misunderstanding.

A petition requesting signatures and distributed by the directors of the dance school stated that board member Marlene Caruso "is behind us all the way and is working to reverse this decision."

Caruso was surprised to hear that.

"I don’t know anything about the petition, or the wording of it," she said. "I wholeheartedly support the community use of school facilities. I (also) understand their dilemma because we have nothing in our communities where they can showcase their programs. However, they have to comply with board policies."

Caruso said she was not aware her name was being used in the materials the dance school owners are putting out to the community.

"I am supporting asking the board to review this policy," she said.

Caruso said she is checking with other school districts to find out what their policies are regarding the use of facilities.

— Dave Benjamin