Over 400 Students, 150 Staff “Go Missing” on New Rochelle High School Fire Inspection Safety Report

Written By: Robert Cox

25C4E4A4-56D6-45B8-9DBB-73D68769BB7F.jpgA recent fire inspection safety report for New Rochelle High School shows a significant discrepancy between the building population reported to the New York State Department of Education and the population reported to the New Rochelle Fire Department. Records obtained by Talk of the Sound show that over 3,400 students were reported enrolled at New Rochelle High School but less than 3,000 students were reported to the New Rochelle Fire Department. The same report omits over 150 full-time non-pedagogical staff and an unknown number of part-time staff.

Emails and phone calls to New Rochelle school officials seeking comment were not returned.

The “School Fire Safety Non-Comformance Reporting Sheet”, last updated in April 2008, lists “Number of students in this facility” at 2,983 and “Number of staff in this facility” at 220. The report also cites numerous examples of non-compliance with fire safety regulations ranging from missing “rescue window” stickers, to not keeping fire/smoke doors in the closed position, to failing to keep the emergency elevator key in the elevator room.

Over the past year, the New Rochelle School District has put forth a variety of divergent figures to describe the population of the high school on a typical day. Last December, during a school board meeting held at New Rochelle High School, Principal Don Conetta noted that staff and administrators at New Rochelle High School had to keep “thirty-three hundred” students under control during the school day. Conetta filed a document with New York State as part of No Child Left Behind “Report Card” which claims 3,404 students were enrolled at the school, a count based on number of students enrolled as of the first Wednesday of October of the school year. Students who attend BOCES programs on a part-time basis are included in a school’s enrolled while those who attend BOCES on a full-time basis or who are placed full time by the district in an out-of-district placement are not included in a school’s enrollment figures.

At the same December school board meeting, Conetta stated there were 221 teachers at New Rochelle High School. He failed to mention non-pedagogical staff such as food service helpers, social workers, psychologists, typists, general school aides (i.e., security guards), cleaners, registered nurses, speech and language pathologists, counselors, custodians, cooks, locksmiths, media coordinators, laborers, guidance counselors, librarians, HVAC system technicians, special education aides, building aides, accounts payable clerks, data entry clerks, and various department chairs and administrators. Documents obtained by Talk of the Sound list 383 full-time employees at New Rochelle High School on the District payroll as of October 2008. This does not include part-time staff and various guests and visitors, coming and going throughout the day.

All together, the numbers indicate the school has as many as 3,900 children and adults in the building during the normal course of a school day less any excused absences for students and staff far more than the roughly 3,200 reported to the New Rochelle Fire Department.

Asked to comment on the discrepancy by Talk of the Sound, Deputy Chief Brian Reidy of the New Rochelle Fire Department would only say his department did not perform their own head counts and relied upon figures provided by the District to be accurate.

Talk of the Sound requested the New Rochelle Fire Inspection Safety Report 2008 after a massive blaze destroyed the South Tower. In the past few years, New Rochelle High Schools has had two major fires as well as lockdowns and evacuations due to bomb threats and rumors of a gang retaliation for the shooting of a Mount Vernon gang member. Long-time residence will recall the entire building burning to the ground after an arsonist set fire to the school.

In answer to our “Fun Friday” trivia question: How long, on average, does it take for the District to evacuate all the 3,500+ people at the high school on a typical day during a fire drill?

The answer is, according to the same Fire Inspection Safety Report, 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you!


New Rochelle High School Fire Inspection Safety Report

New Rochelle High School State Report Card 2008

Journal News: New Rochelle School District Salaries

3 thoughts on “Over 400 Students, 150 Staff “Go Missing” on New Rochelle High School Fire Inspection Safety Report”

  1. Can’t be determined
    I find it hard to believe the district can get that many people to go in the same direction at the same time. Unless, of course, you appoint everyone in the building to the school board and let Kehl lead the way.

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