In a bizarre, unprecedented and shameless move, Superintendent Richard Organisciak last night formally requested that the New Rochelle Board of Education approve a “resolution of support” for MacMenamin’s Grill, an area restaurant that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Confusion reigned as normally docile board members took the highly unusual (for them) step of asking questions.
One of the questions they might have asked is whether or not family members of senior administration officials have an ownership stake in the restaurant?
Another might be whether New Rochelle students have been enrolled, at tax-payer expense, in the cooking school at MacMenamin’s Grill?
Or whether New Rochelle school officials get special treatment at MacMenamin’s Grill?
It was not clear what exactly Superintendent Organisciak was proposing the board do about MacMenamin’s Grill or why it is a matter of public concern that MacMenamin’s Grill stay in business. The proposal did, however, generate something rarely seen at board meetings – actual discussion of an agenda item. In fact, board members spent more time discussing the proposed MacMenamin’s Grill “resolution of support” then was spent discussing the previous agenda item – the budgetary impact of the financial crisis and the proposed cuts in New York State funding to the City School District of New Rochelle. Apparently, the school board thinks the financial status of a restaurant is more important to the residents of New Rochelle than the financial status of the school district which is looking at multi-million dollars cuts in funding over the next 18 months.
The always eager and reliably compliant Mary Jane Reddington, a board member since the stone age, rushed to defend Superintendent Organisciak by praising Brian MacMenamin for his “pro bono” work with special needs children. While any work with special needs kids is admirable, Mr. Reddington characterized ALL of his work with special needs kids as “pro bono” which is hardly the case if his restaurant is being paid to work with special needs students.
We intend to find out. We’ve filed a FOIL request with the District and BOCES to obtain copies of all invoices from and payments to MacMenamin’s Grill, the cooking school at MacMenamin’s Grill and any related corporate entities.