New Rochelle Board of Education Continues to Tolerate Overtly Racist Employees

Written By: Robert Cox

racist janitor.jpgWhoever said “crime doesn’t pay” never worked in the New Rochelle school system.

The New Rochelle Board of Education last month approved moving Michael Freiman, the racist janitor, back to the day shift where he will once again have the opportunity to address black and latino children with vile racial and ethnic epithets. Freiman, an employee of the City School District of New Rochelle with a long history of racist behavior, has been bounced around from school to school for years. In a manner similar to the Catholic Church’s handling of pedophile priests, “problem” New Rochelle Board of Education employees like Freiman are never fired but simply shuffled around the system until the next incident.

RESOLUTION No. 11-61-15

RESOLVED, that the salary adjustment be authorized and approved for Martin Freiman, Assistant Custodian, Grade 8, Step 6, $48,646 per annum, change from night shift to day shift, effective July 1, 2010

The New Rochelle Board of Education has a history of tolerating racist behavior by district employees.

Back in 2007 and 2008, administrators working for the New Rochelle Board of Education laughed off repeated complaints of racist behavior by Phil Carino, a white supervisor at Isaac Young Middle School, whose special brand of “humor” included placing a stuffed monkey on a noose to mock black district employees.

In 2008, the Board of Education ignored repeated complaints about Martin Freiman, a janitor with a long history of racist behavior towards children and staff at various schools.

In 2009, school officials sought to use code language to dismiss criticism of poor standardized test scores at the mostly minority Isaac E. Young Middle School by citing “the demographics” of the school and factors such as “high mobility”.

In 2010, responding to the precipitous decline in the on-time high school graduation rates among Black students, NRHS Principal Don Conetta was unable to identify a single program at the high school designed specifically to improve the graduation rate in the “black/African-American subgroup” at his school. Conetta did identify numerous programs specifically targeting Latino students. The three black members of the school board raised not a single question about the disparity between the pleothora of programs and initiative targeting Latino students and the complete absence of similar programs and initiatives for Black students.

In the monkey-noose case, when Robert Johnson, a black staffer at Isaac E. Young Middle School complained repeatedly to building principal Anthony Bongo about Carino’s “noose humor”, he was ignored. Bongo’s jocular replies further emboldened Carino who proceeded to display even more stuffed animals hung on nooses where black workers like Johnson would encounter them within the school. All of the actions by Carino described in the Johnson lawsuit occurred around the time when the Jena 6 case took place. In Jena, there were major Black civil rights demonstrations over a matter that began when white students at a school in Louisiana hung nooses to intimidate black students.

It was only after the New Rochelle NAACP took up the case, filed compliant filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and began to garner media attention that the Board of Education belatedly took action — briefly suspending Carino who was then allowed to retire with his full pension. Because of the behavior of Carino and Bongo, and the failure of their supervisors and the Board to take Johnson’s complaints seriously, all district employees were required to undergo a full day of “sensitivity” training. The district ultimately settled the case with Johnson after claiming that Carino’s behavior was an “isolated incident” while ignoring a culture in the building created by Anthony Bongo that tolerated and even encouraged such overtly racist behavior. Bongo remains as Principal of Isaac E. Young Middle School.

In the “racist janitor” case, it was only after then-BoE member Martin Sanchez took up the issue that the Board, which had tolerated Freiman’s behavior for years, reluctantly agreed to meet in Executive Session. When the Board emerged from Executive Session, then-BoE President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch announced that Freiman had been suspended for 30 days without pay.

A few months later, in June, 2009, the Board of Education approved a title upgrade, raise and night shift stipend brining his annual income to $69,487.


RESOLVED, that have been certified by the Municipal Service Commission the position title upgrade of Martin Freiman, Custodian, from Grade 12 to Grade 13, with appropriate salary change, Step 4, plus night stipend. $69,487 per annum effective February 14, 2009, be and hereby is approved.

Somewhere between June 2009 and August 2010, Freiman was bounced around again after his hearing last year — he was transferred from the day shift at Jefferson to the midnight shift at the high school and then, when the midnight shift at New Rochelle High School was abolished, over to Trinity Elementary School, sources say. Somewhere along the way, Freiman was demoted over the Jefferson racist incident after being promoted in June, 2009. Word is that he was offered the option of being fired or accepting the demotion although there are no public resolutions or documents to this effect; as a personnel matter if would have been handled by the Board in Executive Session although the decision of the Board should have been made public. If they did, they snuck it by Talk of the Sound — for a while.

The laissez-faire attitude of the administration of the City School District of New Rochelle towards racist behavior or the condoning of racist behavior should come as no surprise considering the composition of the senior leadership of the district which is entirely white.

Superintendent Richard Organisciak – white
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff – white
Assistant Superintendent Diane Massimo – white
Assistant Superintendent John Quinn – white
Assistant Superintendent Margaret Pecunia – white

In a city school district that is “majority minority”, the Board of Education is “majority majority”, 5 of 9 Board Members, are white and live in the predominantly white neighborhoods of the North End of New Rochelle.

Sara Richmond – white
Mary Jane Reddington – white
David Lacher – white
Valerie Orellana – white
Deidre Polow – white/orange

6 thoughts on “New Rochelle Board of Education Continues to Tolerate Overtly Racist Employees”

  1. Oh, you’re confused. I don’t
    Oh, you’re confused. I don’t care for racism, but neither do I care for people on a witch hunt with allegations that have been alleged on this blog.

    Do you really believe evey opinion written here is fact?

    Certainly, you would follow blindly lady justice–if you are in fact a lady.

    I don’t drink shots and I have only ever thrown an insult at those that throw insults at others based on allegations derived in their mind and spread here to incite harm on others. Basis in fact? Who knows. This isn’t a news site based on fact, but the opinions of a Bob Cox and it’s participating contributors.

    Roberta the Postperson

    1. Oh my!!! You do not remember posting on 9/11???
      You don’t remember posting on 9/11???

      You may want to re-read your Sept. 11th post entitled,”In reply to Welcome Back Donna.” I quote, “You are one classy individual. Where do you go out drinking? I’d like to have a shot with you. Roberta the Post Person.”

      There ARE websites for lonely people looking or attention and clearly this forum is not your cup of tea.

      Off topic and mean spirited comments filled with personal attacks are not helpful with all the serious issues in our city and you should thank Mr. Cox for providing a forum for all to be heard every time you log on.

      As the voice of each ‘Roberta’ posting seems to change and you (Roberta 1, 2 or 3) do not remember the 9/11 post, maybe there are multiple people posting under Roberta the Post Person username.

      Questions for the general readers to consider:

      Are the disconnected, off topic and mean spirited responses under the ‘Roberta the Post Person’ username written and approved by committee with multiple people posting?

      When the current administration changes will Roberta’s posts also fade away?

      Only time will tell.

      I join those who post to this site and log on to stay informed, share information and work towards making this a beter community.

  2. You know, you had me
    You know, you had me supportive until you went and labeled members of the board or staff as being white.

    Such a tool. Your intent is to only Incite hate.

    Roberta the Postperson

    1. Dear Postperson looking for attention…
      I’ve read your posts. The truth hurts and we call it as we see it. Clearly you are seeking attention. One minute you are hurling insults and then inviting strangers for shots.

      Your thoughts are not consistent and I am not sure what to make of you, if anything.

      Maybe your rambling thoughts are best lost in a Twitter stream…or better suited for a dating/singles website.

      Read the postings before you type or people will think, in this case, that you are a supporter of racist behavior.

      If you keep on the way you are going, the assumption may be made that you are a product of this failing and corrupt school system or worse.

      The last I heard it is hard to rollerblade wearing a sheet!

  3. Other articles on this specific subject
    School Board Suspends Jefferson Employee Without Pay over Racist Remarks

    New Rochelle School Board Promotes Racist Custodian at Jefferson School


  4. Consider Charter Schools in New Rochelle
    The New Rochelle School district has always been allergic to confronting conflict or even entertaining a potential labor relations process when things are bad with personnel. As a labor relations practitioner with municipal unions for years, I know how this works. So, when you have a bad apple doing a very bad deed, you don’t do the progressive discipline bit, as it’s often not the case either. If someone does a very bad deed, you terminate them. Knowing full well that an arbitrator will likely return that person back to work, do it anyway. It sends an important message. It means you care about your students and your community. Sometimes, incidents of racism like previously itemized require sound judgment and quick action. You must send a message that you will not tolerate these kinds of actions. Good teachers will appreciate this. But the NR school administration is in bed with FUSE. Their pack is no one gets fired unless it is blessed by the union. So it doesn’t happen. There are bad employees; there are bad teachers (and you know who they are). There are teachers who are racists at the HS; you know who he is. There are teachers who cannot control a classroom and kids don’t learn. There are department chairs who have told me over and over again “I wish this teacher wasn’t here”. Their hands are tied by an apathetic school administration culture that refuses to help. You must be able to fire without fear.
    Please consider charter schools in New Rochelle. Perhaps a new beginning will create opportunities for our children and parents.

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