The theater group, which provides a venue for child performers, has used the facility during the past two summers. But director
The ban stems "from a series of problems last year when Moonlight used the PAC facilities," Hart said.
Hart cited a decision to move an 8,000-pound,
"That was a strong reflection of poor judgment," he said. And he wonders why Turner, with his extensive theater experience -- he was even the drama director at the middle school for a time -- made such a decision.
In addition, Hart said, "Some very significant damage was done in one of the bathrooms." He blames poor supervision of the young performers for this lapse. The town's investment in school facilities is a public trust, he said. "We don't take that responsibility lightly."
Hart expressed disappointment that this matter has been made public. But he acknowledged that the outpouring of support for
Rather, suspending the right to use the PAC was a way to impress upon the group the seriousness of the problems they created. Further, he said, he told Turner, "I'll talk to you next year." In fact, he hopes to talk even sooner and is in the process of setting up a meeting on Friday.
For his part, Turner said that there were no guidelines and no one telling the group that they could not move the piano. Nor was he cautioned about the piano, even while he worked at the school.
"We promised we would never move it again," he said, noting that the group paid
The complaints about a lack of supervision of the kids are more recent, he said. A fourth-grader painting theatrical backdrops had asked to use the toilet. He took his brush with him and splattered paint everywhere, Turner said.
"The boy's mother marched him back to the school," Turner said. "He was made to apologize to the janitor. Then, the boy and his mother cleaned up all the paint."
Criticism is coming because the issue of the piano, which wasn't damaged, seems so petty, Turner said. "They just plain look foolish. ... They have to make stuff up."
Turner said he received no warnings prior to being denied the use of the facility. He disputes the right of the school department to bar his group. "It's a public facility" built on promises that there would be access for others, he said. "You can't arbitrarily close it down."
Alternate locations are hard to find. The gym at
"Our group changes people's lives," he said. Kids who are bullied often find salvation in the performing arts, he noted. "Thousands of kids have worked with us."
On learning that his group was banned, Turner said he sent several emails to the superintendent before finally meeting with him face to face. He was told that the school department won't revisit the issue. "They're so dug-in. And so obstinate. The most I can do is make a loud noise," he said.
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