Scouts expelled, parents ask why

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:47

    VERNON-Three Vernon Boy Scouts and their families have been asked to leave local Troop 404, and their families are still trying to find out why. Tim Kent is a Vernon resident who has been active in scouting with his son, Robbie Kent, 11. He said that he and two other parents, Dave DiPietro and Linda DeMartino, were called to a June 8 meeting with scout officials. At the meeting, Kent said, the three parents were told that they and their children were not welcome in the troop. But scout leaders would not say why the action was being taken, according to David DeMartino, husband to Linda and father of Boy Scout Daniel DeMartino. DiPietro and DeMartino attended the meeting with Cuky Kent, Tim's wife. Tim, a corporate pilot, was out of the country working. The troop's representatives at the meeting included scoutmaster Jerry Jicha, committee chair Janice Vaszlavik, charter representative Jeannette Wherry, as well as Council representative Christine Capen, according to the three parents. Attempts to confirm this information from the participants failed. Vaszlavik, speaking for the troop leadership, referred calls to the Patriot's Path Council Scout Executive Dennis Kohl, who referred questions regarding membership and leadership to Wherry. Wherry said the charter organization can't discuss the issue and referred inquiries back to Kohl, who reiterated his previous statement. Tim Kent, Dave DiPietro and Linda DeMartino were actively involved in Boy Scouting and troop activities. DiPietro is also currently working with the National Jamboree, an event that takes place every four years and hosts 35,000-40,000 Scouts from across the country. David DeMartino, a member of the Vernon Board of Education, said he was not so much upset by the treatment of the adults, as the organization has the right to decide its adult leadership. However, expelling the three boys from the troop was "unconscionable," he said. "We're adults, we can take it," said David DeMartino. "You don't mess with kids." "If [the adult leadership] is going to kick us out, they should hear the kids' side of the story, get their feelings," said Robbie Kent, who was scheduled to move up to Tenderfoot in mid-June. The timing of the meeting meant that he was not able to make the ceremony, called a "Council of Honor," where he would have advanced to the next level of Scouting and received several merit badges he had earned. "The Boy Scouts should have more respect than just getting awards in the mail," said Robbie, who added he is still waiting to receive his badges via post. "I was really disappointed. I have thought so highly of Boy Scouts," said his father, Tim, who added that he got involved with Boy Scouts as a way to spend more time with his son. "We all still have a high respect for Scouting, and still want to be involved," said David Demartino. Later, he added, "It's not our purpose to make Scouting look bad." After the meeting, Cuky Kent attempted to reach members of the Council to find out why they had been asked to leave. She was referred to Douglas Krofina, assistant regional director of operations in the northeast region. Cuky said Krofina directed her to put the issues in writing and send the letter to his office. Cuky sent the letter via certified mail, copying it to representatives of the charter organization, the Council and national Boy Scouts representatives, she said. Krofina was out of his office and as of The Advertiser-News' Tuesday deadline, could not be reached. The parents have tried without success to find another troop for their sons. They now plan to register their sons as Lone Scouts, and Robbie is busy collecting insects so he can earn a nature merit badge when he attends Boy Scout summer camp. A letter from Capen, the Council representative, addressed to Tim Kent and dated June 18, offers the parents the option of registering their sons as Lone Scouts, or starting their own troop. The parents would prefer to join one of Vernon's five troops. The parents emphasized several times that their intent was not to denigrate Boy Scouts. They just want to know why the troop had asked them and their sons to leave. "A public outrage is not in anybody's best interest," said Dave DeMartino.