Running Tally of Unanswered Questions Asked of the New Rochelle Board of Education since 2008

Written By: Robert Cox

It is the stated policy of the Board of Education that members of the public can address the board for five minutes at the end of a board meeting, that the board will not respond during the meeting to issues raised by the public but instead take the speakers contact information and respond to them in writing after the meeting. In the last two years of attending board meetings I have asked dozens of questions and received such a written reply just once — and that reply was false. Last month I began submitting my questions in writing after making prepared remarks to the board so there would be no “confusion” as to the questions asked during those remarks and began to create a running tally of questions asked and unanswered.

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Will Mr. Organisciak revise his previous, demonstrably false statement at the 9/27/09 board meeting that all failed health inspections in 2008 were fixed within 48 hours and contact the parent to advise her that he has done so?

Why did Mr. Quinn wait until two years after Jefferson was cited for not having thermometers to buy thermometers?

Does the school board believe that four failed inspections (2006-07) in two years is acceptable?

Does Mr. Organisciak intend to apologize to that Ward parent for ridiculing them at a Trinity PTA meeting for having raised legitimate concerns about health safety issues in the schools in a widely-circulated email?

Has anyone on the Board explained to Mr. Quinn that a failed inspection does apply to the cafeteria as a whole, the opposite of what he claimed in an interview with the Journal News?

Has the board considered adopting a zero-tolerance policy on cafeteria health safety issues?

Does the Board intend to issue an apology or direct the administration to issue one for its abysmal records on health safety in the school cafeterias and make some sort of public commitment to doing a better job?

What has been the cause of the work on the tower not being completed in 2008 as originally promised in September 2008, in September 2009 as promised in August, 2009 or even now in November 2009?

Resolution 10-110 states that the basis for a 211 Waiver for Rolf Koehler is that he previously served with the New Rochelle Police Department; as he did not serve with the NRPD will the District amend the resolution and resubmit it to the board?

In September 2009, Mr. Quinn responded to the Journal News report that the district had failed more health inspections in 2008 than any other district in Westchester by saying he had bought thermometers for cafeteria staff. A month later the cafeteria at Ward school failed yet another inspection. Does Mr. Quinn intend to purchase more thermometers for staff at Ward School?

Despite repeated denials by school officials including a letter to the New York State Committee on Open Government, the Board now knows that Former Assistant Superintendent Dr. Fred Smith produced “a study looking at the achievement at the students that come from IEY vs those that come from ALMS”. Will the Board direct the administration to turn over a copy of the Smith report to me per my 2008 FOIL request?

In light of the highly questionable test results at Isaac E. Young Middle School over the past two years, will the Board consider having an outside agency conduct the testing at IEYMS this year?

Why Doesn’t the District Enable IMAP Email so that employees with smart phones can check their emails on their personal mobile devices if they wish?

Why doesn’t the District publish to the web the minutes from school board meetings?

Is the school board now receiving monthly reports on the removal of “wrongly-enrolled” students as was agreed in July? If so, what do these report say?

Did the board receive a report on how much other school districts charge for adult education classes and whether the New Rochelle program is self-sustaining? If so, what did the report say?

Is the Hebrew CILA program still under consideration?

I appeared before the board in executive session last September with regard to the existence of two different answer sheets on my son’s Chemistry Regents exam. I have since learned from a member of the New York State Board of Regents that over a year ago the New York State Department of Assessment sent a response to the District regarding my complaint. I am told this letter was sent in August 2008, before I met with the board in executive session. Is it true that this letter concurred with my view that the existence of two versions of one student’s answers sheet was improper? Why was that letter not provided to me prior to the executive session (or after)? Was the information in that letter shared with the board before or after the executive session? Is it the position of the district that this letter was not relevant to my appearance before the board? Now that I have learned of the letter, will the Board direct the administration to provide me a copy of the letter?

Why is the school district willing to apply for 211 waivers for Bruce Daniele, Robert Coyne and Rolf Koehler years after they were first hired and on grounds that do not comport with New York State law but made no such similar effort on behalf of Mr. McMahon, the former principal at Trinity. Why were parents at Trinity told the district had no choice with regard to keeping Mr. McMahon when Resolution 10-110 clearly shows the District is willing to be highly “flexible” in interpreting 211 waivers?

Last year I received a tip of a building principal regularly smoking cigars on schools grounds. In response to my efforts to report out this tip Mr. Organisciak effectively banned me from school grounds. Does Mr. Organisciak ever intend to lift this illegal ban or is it his intention that I, alone, among all people in New Rochelle, be singled out for the distinction of a lifetime ban from school property? Will the board direct Mr. Organisciak to rescind his previous letter?

I have been accused of “blackmail” on three occasions,, once by Marion Katzive over the telephone and twice by Mr. Organisciak, in writing, including a letter to a third party in what is clearly an actionable, defamatory statement. I am sure some of the more experienced lawyers on this school board can explain to Mr. Organisciak the position he puts the district in when he makes such statements, in writing to third-parties. Does the board believe that I have engaged in criminal conduct such as blackmail in my interaction with the school district? If not, will the board direct district lawyers and administrators to cease and desist from making these sorts of false and defamatory statements?

The school district has formulated an entirely illegal policy regarding FOIL requests from me, all in a transparent attempt to discourage me from obtaining access to public records. Regardless of motivation, actual or perceived, or whether the district finds it convenient, the district is bound by the New York State Freedom of Information Law to provide records reasonably described within a clearly defined time frame so that I should have records no later than a month after my request and that in the case of electronic records those records must be made available to no “per page” cost. Will the board direct the administration to revise their current position on complying with FOIL in regards to my requests? Further, will the board direct the administration to show good faith in this by turning over the records previously requested, at no cost even for any legitimate charges, to compensate me for the needless and improper delay?

Has there been some change to New York State law, district policy or the union contract that we now have two Superintendent Days per year when we used to have just one? Why were some district employees excluded from participating? Why were some employees told officially they could leave 2 hours prior to the end of the regular workday?

I have information about three district employees — one involved in drug dealing, one involved in a municipal fraud case and another involving endangering the welfare of minors. Is the board willing to hear from on these three individuals in executive session?

Will the board make public – through the web site or some other way – copies of presentations and reports made to the Board?

Regarding the November 2008 stabbing incident at the high school, Mr. Connetta told parents the day of the incident to contact him with any questions. I did so, several times, verbally and in writing, privately and publicly and never received any response. Questions asked last year include: Has the student who did the stabbing been identified; has he been apprehended? What type of edged weapon was used? Was the weapon recovered? How? Where? If the wound was a minor “flesh wound” why were paramedics called? Who made the call for an ambulance? Who made the call to the police? Did the police make any arrests? Are any of the students involved back at school? What disciplinary action was taken?

The issue of primary concern is to understand why officials at New Rochelle High School did not put the school on lockdown/lockout during this incident. What is the school’s lockdown/lockout procedure when school officials get a credible report of an armed person stabbing students and loose in the school? Were those procedures followed in this case and, if not, why not? Have the lockdown/lockout procedures been reviewed and/or changed in light of the handling of this incident?

How did it comes to pass that as part of “Health Week” at NRHS last year, health teachers gave out t-shirts with the New Rochelle High School name and logo on the front and logos of sponsors including a cigar lounge and a discount cigarette store called “smokes for less” on the back?

In an interview last summer with the Journal News about an incident in March 2008, Mr Organisciak denied students at Trinity Elementary School were collectively punished as a result of the unruly behavior by a small number of students. At the time, Mr. Organisciak was in receipt of emails from the Trinity School principal McMahon in which Mr. McMahon acknowledge the collective punishment of students by Trinity teachers, apologized to parents and informed them that the teachers had been ordered to apologize directly to the students. Has the board determined why Mr. Organisciak’s statement to the press was flatly contradicted by the building principal in emails to which Mr. Organisciak was a party? Does the board agree that Mr. Organisciak’s statement to the Journal News was false? Does Mr. Organisicak intend to formally amend his previous statement and advise the Journal News of his misstatement?

Will the board approve an independent investigation into why there are two different versions of the answer sheets to my son’s 2007 Chemistry Regents Exam?

Will the district replace its current audio recorder with a digital recorder so that audio from meetings will appear on the web quickly?


Will Mr. Organisciak’s goals for 2009-10 be published to the web or anywhere else? The annual goals for administrators are now being published on the district’s web site.

2 thoughts on “Running Tally of Unanswered Questions Asked of the New Rochelle Board of Education since 2008”

  1. Fred Smith resigns
    I read in the Journal News that Fred Smith unexpectedly resigned as Superintendent of Potantico Hills today.

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