NEW YORK (Map, News) – Thinking they might encounter problems in the Communist country, New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson wrote a letter on behalf of Manhattan public high schoolers who traveled to Cuba this month, praising them as “student ambassadors.”
What he didn’t know, a spokeswoman says, was that the trip may not have been licensed by the federal government.
“He is concerned and frankly shocked” about the matter, spokeswoman Maritere Arce said Tuesday. “He knew that the Department of Education did not authorize it, but he did think that federal authorities had authorized it.”
Paterson’s involvement, which stemmed from his stepdaughter’s participation in a previous trip to Cuba taken by a group from The Beacon School, was the latest wrinkle to emerge in an ongoing investigation into the trips. Students and others involved could face thousands of dollars in fines if they are found to have violated federal laws.
City education officials said they expressly denied permission for the April sojourn because of federal restrictions and were trying to figure out the circumstances of at least two previous trips taken by Beacon School students. What remains unclear is what the education department can do if the students and the teacher leading the trip, Nathan Turner, acted independently.
It gets worse:
In writing the letter, Paterson cited his stepdaughter Ashley Dennis’ participation in the past. She’s now a freshman at Ithaca College. “He was pleased with his stepdaughter’s experience as a student going there,” Arce said.
Que clase de come mierda.
*Update: The pile keeps growing; the NY Sun reports that none other than Pastors for Peace organized the trip. Babalu contributor Marc has the details here.
The story is here.