Maria D’Angelo was caught by surprise when one of the co-leaders of the Franklin Square Girl Scouts invited her daughter to join Daisy Troop 1382 in early 2018. D’Angelo’s daughter is on the autism spectrum, and although she was nervous about letting her join, D’Angelo said her child rarely received such invitations.
“It ended up being a wonderful experience for us,” D’Angelo, 42, said. “My daughter made friends, which was very important for her, and she felt like she belonged.”
But the experience was short-lived, as D’Angelo said that among the three Troop 1382 leaders, Sandy Corsetti, who had invited her daughter, was the only one who appeared to enjoy her daughter’s company. Corsetti — who also has a child on the spectrum and is the chairwoman of the Franklin Square School District Special Education PTA — explained that D’Angelo’s daughter fit in well until the head troop leader began to complain that “she’s too much work to deal with.”
After continued friction with that troop leader, Corsetti sought help from the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, asking officials to step in and mediate or allow her to start her own troop.
By September, a few days after Corsetti filed her grievance with the organization, Troop 1382 was scheduled to be disbanded, and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County did not allow Corsetti to start her own troop with the seven families who vouched for her work as a troop leader despite approving the formation of another troop months later.
“All of this has been very upsetting,” Corsetti said. “The Girl Scouts is a group that is supposed to uplift the voice of women, but it feels like when I spoke, I was punished for it.”
Nassau County Girl Scouts does not comment on members or troops to protect their privacy. The also did not say why Corsetti was not allowed to start her own troop. The two other Troop 1382 leaders did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment.
Desiree Castellar also claimed that Corsetti was being left out of the troop’s decision-making process, which only strengthened her and other parents’ resolve to want to start their own troop under Crosetti. The situation came to a head when one leader barred a local girl from joining the troop, despite Corsetti and the child’s mother already having reached an understanding that her daughter would join by the summer.
“I don’t think this is the behavior a true Girl Scout should have,” Castellar wrote.
Tension mounted when parents learned that fifth-graders would be introduced into their troop, which was comprised of first-graders. Franklin Square resident Manio Mathioudis let the Nassau County Girl Scouts know about the forced integration. It was then that Mathioudis and the other parents backed Corsetti’s grievance and committed to the formation of a new troop apart from 1382, but the grievance process did not proceed as they expected.
A few days later, Corsetti learned that she would be unable to form a new troop and that Troop 1382 would be dissolved. Nassau County Girl Scout officials cited “poor judgment and behavior” by the troop’s leaders. As devastating as that was for her, Corsetti later learned that Nassau County Girl Scouts allowed a new local troop to form and that her daughter could only join if she agreed to stay out of the troop’s official business and not attend any parent meetings, unless she was invited.
Other local troop leaders, who asked not to be named because they feared being penalized for talking about the incident, said Nassau County Girl Scouts’ decision was “unfair and unusual.” They found it odd to learn that Girl Scout officials never met with Corsetti in person and only communicated through email, and the local leaders agreed that Corsetti was an asset to the scouts and should not be banned. Despite the restriction placed on her, Corsetti agreed to the terms to give her daughter a chance to grow up with the Girl Scouts.
“We really were all expecting to start a troop with Sandy leading us,” D’Angelo said. “But it was so nasty the way they washed their hands of our troop.”