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Deadline Approaches for District’s Response to Marion Carll Lawsuit

Commack School District claims they have until June 15 to file a response to Carll’s heirs, who seek possession of the historic farmstead.

Editor's Note: Commack School officials have disputed that the deadline for their response to the lawsuit. 

Commack school officials now have roughly two weeks to respond to the Marion Carll Farm lawsuit, that is if they have any intention to respond.

Arthur Goldstein, a Huntington-based attorney representing Marion Carll’s heirs, said he has yet to receive a response from the Commack School District to the lawsuit filed March 16. Carll’s heirs are seeking to have the historic 9-acre farm revert to their possession, saying the school failed to use the property for its intended purpose.

Goldstein claims the deadline for the school district to respond is June 11, although school officials and trustees have repeatedly stated the deadline is June 15. 

“I put in a complaint and they have to fine an answer to my complaint. They have until June 11,” Goldstein said. “We are still hopeful in trying to work things out.” 

Commack School District was served with a 13-page lawsuit, filed March 16 in Suffolk County Supreme Court, from the heirs of the Marion Carll Farm who seek the return of the historic property.

Carll's heirs claim the district has failed to maintain the property as a museum and use it for educational purposes, as outlined under stipulations of the donation.

Under the provisions of Carll's will, Commack school district was "to maintain the buildings there on as historical museums" and "utilize the land as a type of farm school, school or camp for benefit of the children... ."

Commack School District did lease the property to , who built a one-room schoolhouse for educational programs and renovated a few of the barns. However, the property has not been used since.

Commack School District’s attorney commented at the April 19 Board of Education meeting that he has been instructed to spend as little time or resources as possible on the lawsuit, stating “the Board of Education has instructed me not to spend significant legal fees defending this action.” 

Commack School officials declined to answer questions on whether they had any intention of responding.

Brenda Lentsch, a spokeswoman for the district, said there will be a public update on the property at the board’s June 14 meeting - three days after the deadline - and the district’s attorney will discuss any new legal developments then.

Goldstein said if the district fails to respond, and the property is handed back over to Carll’s heirs, they intend on bringing to life Marion Carll’s vision.

“The community wanted to preserve the school and what was going on there, on the farm. That’s why the will was set up. We want to carry out the intent of its designated purpose,” he said.

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