Whoever 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
SALARY ADJUSTMENT – CHANGE FROM NIGHT TO DAY SHIFT – CUSTODIAL (A1620163390000)
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.
RESOLUTION No. 09-259-C
POSITION TITLE UPGRADE:
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