JUSTICE: Board of Education Tables Illegal “Rolf Koehler” Resolution After Rare Two Hour Executive Session

Written By: Robert Cox

RichardOrganisciak.jpgFor one night anyway, justice prevailed at a New Rochelle Board of Education meeting as an attempt to subvert the New York State civil service law was stopped…for now. Past being prologue, residents can rest assured that like a vampire rising from the grave, this resolution will be tweaked and then brought forward again, most likely at the next BoE meeting scheduled for December 7th.

Resolution No. 11-183

Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak had sought to bring forward a resolution that would have authorized him to submit a waiver request to the New York State Civil Service Commission. The resolution was the result of a month long effort to concoct yet another pretext to keep Rolf Koehler on the BoE payroll as a security administrator despite having failed to pass a civil service exam last February.

Normally, the BoE meets as the Committee of the Whole to review draft resolutions, have discussion, provide a chance for board members to ask questions and for the public to have an opportunity to comment. In this case, the board added a Special Meeting to immediately follow the Committee of the Whole Meeting. The only purpose of the meeting was to vote on Resolution No. 11-183 (the Koehler Resolution). At no point prior to the meeting was the public informed of the Special Meeting, Board members only found out about that afternoon, same for the resolution.

In a bit of high drama, no board members asked to speak when 11-183 was read out during the reading of the draft resolutions. After reading the entire list, BoE Member Jeffrey Hastie asked to speak on 11-183. He express his concern about the way the resolution was brought forward and asked several questions. BoE Member Lianne Merchant chimed in as well. Hastie then asked when the civil service exam described in the resolution would be given. Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, obviously displeased at getting any questions about the resolution, balked before stating an exam would be given sometime in the Spring. Why it would take four to six months to schedule an exam was not explained.

[NOTE: The New York State Civil Service Commission states the next scheduled competitive examination for the “Safety and Security Series” is February 2011.]

Your humble correspondent asked to address the board (the video should be on Channel 77 this weekend) so let me switch to first person here for a moment.

I asked the board to consider how many times they had been asked to pass a resolution for waiver for Rolf Koehler over the past 14 months.. I reminded them that on 9/29/09, the board had passed a resolution for a 211 waiver similar to 11-183 which stated that a requirement for the position was having served with the New Rochelle Police Department. The position title was “School Security Officer”. I reminded the board I had come back at the next meeting to inform them that Rolf Koehler never served with the NRPD but rather the New York Police Department. The resolution was re-drafted and approved by the board.

I re-hashed the research I did on 211 waivers back in 2009 when they first passed their phony 211 waiver resolutions:

On 9/29, the BoE passed resolution 10-110 regarding 211 waivers for Bruce Daniele, Robert Coyne and Rolf Koehler. The criteria laid out in the resolution do not comport with the Post-October 7, 2008 Statutory Criteria for 211 Waivers because the district has not prepared a detailed recruitment plan for these positions or undertaken extensive recruitment efforts. The district has not demonstrated that there is an urgent need for their services. The vacancies they filled are not unplanned, unpredictable, or unexpected nor are thee appointments being treated as non-permanent as they appear to be the final filling of the position. It is hard to imagine in the current job market there are NO available, qualified non-retirees.

At its meeting of November 18, 2009, the New York State Civil Service Commission approved a section 211 waiver for Koehler for the period June 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 with the stipulation that the City of New Rochelle Civil Service Commission conduct an examination. This came about because the NYSCSC had previously determined that the district had failed to file the necessary paperwork for Koehler, Robert Coyne and their boss, Bruce Danielle several years earlier when they were hired. The exact details are unclear because the BoE has declined to explain exactly what happened. In any case, the three resolutions were bought forward. Under the resolutions, Rolf Koehler was required to take a competitive civil service exam. In the meantime, until all the niceties were addressed, the district was given a waiver for the three security administrators until the end of the school year (June, 2010) including Koehler.

I pointed out that, according to the web site of the New York State Civil Service Commission did give the exam on February 6, 2010.

Date: 08/23/10 211 Case Analysis 13 Retiree’s Name : Koehler

I told the Board that the NYSCSC report says 12 candidates passed the open-competitive examination. I told the board that my sources tell me that Koehler was not one of the 12 who passed the examination. Regardless, of the four “reachable” candidates, three were “non-retirees” and therefore would be above Koehler on the list. The eligible list was established on May 12, 2010. Koehler was not on it. The BoE was supposed to pick from among the top three candidates. They never did.

Instead, the BoE approved the creation of a new security title called “Director of Surveillance” and then approved appointing Koehler to that position using yet another temporary waiver limited through until 10/31/10. October 30, 2010 was to be Koehlher’s last day but at the last minute he was given a leave of absences until 12/31/10. Asked last night about this by Lianne Merchant, Organisciak said the leave was granted for “personal reasons”. The only “personal reason” was that Koehler was no longer eligible to work for the district one his waiver expired.

I then asked the Board what made Rolf Koehler so important that the Board of Education would go through all sorts of contortions to keep him on the payroll. Koehler had been given an opportunity to pass the test and failed. He had used up multiple waivers. He was now being given what amounted to a fourth or fifth or even sixth bite at the apple. I said the board should ask why they are being asked to do this? I then pointed out that they were certainly going to be dealing with a complaint to the New York State Civil Service Commission because I was going to personally file the complaint. I told them I also expected their would be complaints filed with the Department of Labor and quite likely litigation from the 12 people who passed the exam, possible any who took the exam, and very likely those on the eligible list who were all passed over in favor over Koehler who failed the exam.

I finished by asking the BoE not to vote that night and to take time to gather facts and get answers to these and other questions.

Before I had returned to my seat, BoE President Sara Richmond asked for a motion to go into executive session to discuss a “personnel matter”. That they would go into a secret meeting to discuss a public resolution was bizarre but off they went….for about two hours. At about 10 PM, Richmond returned with several board members. Realizing they did not have a quorum she made a quorum call until six board members were seated. It was only at that point that Richmond asked for a motion to cancel the Special Meeting to vote on Resolution 11-183 and then, oddly, asked to adjourn again for yet another executive session, this time to discuss a matter of pending litigation. Assured that they would not be coming back into session, I left.

This event last night brought together many of the key players in the corruption that goes on in New Rochelle and provides a road map on how these people operate. For whatever reason, Bruce Danielle wants Rolf Koehler to work for him regardless of the civil service law, a law for which he appears to have about as much respect as he has for the state’s gambling and pornography laws. He is going to do whatever it takes to make that happen. He brought in Domenic Procopio, Marty Daly, and Richard Organisciak, among others. They sat in a closed room figuring how to get around the law to suit their purposes without the slightest concern that their actions were making a mockery of the civil service law and yet another tax-payer funded rip-off which might well expose the district to litigation. They spring their resolution on the Board of Education at the last minute, fail to make a public announcement of the Special Meeting, fail to publish an Order of Business on their as they normally do and otherwise do all they can to slip the resolution through without any noticing.

Readers should take a good look at Resolution No. 11-183. Here are a few highlights with my comments.

The School District has heretofore employed Rolf Koehler pursuant to waivers granted by the New York State Department of Civil Service – note the use of the plural waivers.

The City of New Rochelle Civil Service Commission has approved the creation of the position of School Security Specialist – is this the same New Rochelle Civil Service Commission that created the position of “School Security Officer” just a year ago?

The City of New Rochelle Civil Service Commission has requested that an appropriate competitive examination be developed and administered – you mean like the one they gave on February 6th, 2010?

The interests of students, staff and the public are best served when the School District’s security operations are managed by security
professionals with an extensive background in local law enforcement and intimately familiar with the community and schools of the City of New Rochelle
– if this is the case how was Koehler hired in the first place? He worked for the NYPD nor NRPD. And why cannot someone with a private security background be effective? And what about people with law enforcement in other areas of the country or working for the State Police or even the FBI? Are they not qualified? This is little more than a jobs program for retired NRPD officers and their pals, something that serves their interests and the BoE which can use the lure of future double-dipping employment to keep police inline and out of the schools.

Mr. Koehler was initially recruited for employment based upon his demonstrated knowledge of and involvement with the School District’s schools by reason of his prior service as a police officer – again, Koehler worked for the NYPD so how does this line in the resolution even make sense. The exact opposite is the case.

The resolution ends in much the same the resolutions in 2009 ended, “the Board of Education finds it would be in the interest of the School District provisionally to appoint Mr. Koehler to the position of School Security pending the administration of a competitive examination as aforesaid and the receipt of an eligible list from the City of New Rochelle Civil Service Commission…” Except that they did this very thing last year and ignored it. Also, “The Board of Education supports the submission by the Superintendent of Schools of a waiver request to the Superintendent of the New York State Civil Service Commission pursuant to Retirement and Social Security §211 for Rolf Koehler” even though this application is not allowed under the Post-October 7, 2008 Statutory Criteria for 211 Waivers.

Of course, the real point is in the last line: “RESOLVED that this resolution shall take effect immediately.”

The plan was to ram this through at the last minute without Board members, the public or the 12 people who passed the test, especially those on the eligible list knowing about it until it was all over and Rolf Koehler was back on the payroll with yet another temporary appointment based on a phony application for a 211 waiver.

If putting an end to corruption interests you, please consider taking a few moments to send an email to the Board of Education clerk to request your permitted 5 minutes of speaking time (if you show up without reservations they can limit you to 3 minutes). If you do not wish to speak, at least come bare silent witness to the fraud being perpetrated by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak and his cronies along with the connivance of some BoE members.

Email New Rochelle Board of Education Clerk to request to speak at the next Board Meeting on December 7, 2010 — another day that will live in infamy if this resolution is somehow passed.

12 thoughts on “JUSTICE: Board of Education Tables Illegal “Rolf Koehler” Resolution After Rare Two Hour Executive Session”

  1. New Rochelle Security Department
    An overall is needed for the NewRo security dept. Most of the security guards have never left NewRo and all they do is fraternize with the kids of their friends.
    Danielle has not done a thing for the sec. dept. – his dept sit on their chairs and gossip with each other all day long. Instead of doing their jobs all they do is call the kids “sweetie” and “bro” and let them roam the hallways instead of taking them to the disciplinarians.
    This whole thing of a security dept is a joke.
    To the person whom Rolf found his kids phone – you must be a friend. They usually ask the right hand permission to move the left!!!! Enough Said

  2. NRinfo re: Speaking of grandstanding
    Correct me if I’m wrong but even if someone did score 100%, that doesn’t mean they automatically get the job. There is still a screening process (interviews, backround checks, psycological exam, drug tests etc). In theory, the person who scored the 12th highest score could get hired over the top 11.
    I read where you wrote that you have no use for Daniele or Koehler. That is your right and obviously your opinion. Knowing both men, it is my opinion that they are more than qualified to keep their positions. I for one, hope they do!

  3. Comptroller Completed Audit of Mount Vernon Schools
    Sound familiar?

    New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the audit: Mount Vernon City School District – Internal Controls Over Selected Operations.

    “As Comptroller, I’m committed to using the audit process to make sure state and local governments run as efficiently as possible,” DiNapoli said. “Mount Vernon City School District officials ignored the law when they failed to perform background checks for all prospective and current employees. This is not acceptable. It puts the students at risk and could expose the district to fines and penalties. The district must do better.”

    DiNapoli’s auditors found that although district officials developed personnel policies and procedures, they did not implement them and did not comply with state law regarding criminal background checks, State Education Department and Civil Service certifications and employment eligibility. As a result, the safety of the students within the district could have been compromised and the district could have incurred financial penalties.

    Specifically, district officials did not perform required fingerprint-supported background checks for all prospective and current non-instructional employees who have direct contact with students, even though Education Law and district policy require such checks. In addition, a building principal did not have the required New York State certification during our audit period, two new positions were not properly processed for certification by the local Civil Service Commission, and the district did not have federal employment eligibility forms on file for four of the 10 employees in our review.

    Lastly, district officials failed to establish sufficient internal controls over the key components of the district’s IT system. There were no processes in place for the assignment of user access rights or notification of changes in employee status, and district officials did not develop a disaster recovery plan or a process to assess risk and classify data according to risk level.

    For a full copy of the audit, see: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/schools/2010/mountvernon.pdf

    If you have any questions, or would like a comment from the Comptroller’s press office regarding this audit, please call 518-474-4015, or send an email to press@osc.state.ny.us.

  4. What BS
    So let me get this straight, if Koehler and Daniele abide by the law and do not continue as security administration there will be Kaos in the New Rochelle School District? Wake up these guys are buddy’s sucking the life out of taxpayers by double-dipping. I have two questions; what’s in this for Oganisac and how can trustees like Lacher, Hastie, Petrone and crew allow any last minute resolutions concerning staffing without a full informational presentation and public input at the very least. It’s time to break up the see no evil, hear no evil & speak no evil ignoramuses.

  5. He never failed an exam. Read
    He never failed an exam. Read the law
    Mr Koehler had previously taken the exam for the position. The Feb 2010 exam was for the same series.according to Civil Service law
    Koehler did not have to sit for exam. School Security officer was not created last year again bad info
    Maybe this exam will have qualified applicants and the most qualified will be hired.
    Good luck on your personal vendetta of
    the school district.
    GOD help anyone who has children going to the high School and middle schools in the future if Daniele, Koehler are not there to keep the peace
    Mr Cox I believe you no longer have children in the disitrict!

    I ask all you parents that through these years had your children or have your children in the district schools to come out on behalf of the school board, district and MR Daniele and Mr Koehler.
    Im sure there are many families that have had property returned, disputes, fight avoided because of our Security and how it is run
    I myself had a child at the high school and her phone was taken and Mr. Daniele and Koehler recovered it
    are we all that warped to not understand how many children of all beliefs and cultures are squeezed into our buildings and for the majority everyday is a good one!!
    We should be thanking the district instead of attacking them, we have the largest high school around the last thing we can afford is to jeopordize safety.

    So come out and support your childrens safety especially if you still have children coming up to Middle and High School.

    1. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we…
      Was Mr. Koehler’s name on the eligibility list for the position of “School Security Officer” that was posted on on May 12, 2010?

      1. The right man for the right job!
        my kid’s are comming up to the mid school level and i dont want there safety to be a question of who passed a test or not .

        I went threw the city school system ,and i know what really goes on ,the gangs, the drugs, the wanna be’s. We need people who are street savy and know how to handle these thing’s. Someone with experience in the matters of THE STREET,not the office.

        Let’s not give anyone the idea that this is an easy position that can be handed to a a friend of a friend.But let’s allso realize that the person who does get the job ,has to be one that is right for it ..

        I dont care if he passed a civil service test , he has to know the street and what is really going
        on. the right person schould be able to handle himself and the resposiabillities of the job !!!

        Let’s not loose sight of our goal ,and that is to protect our children !

      2. can we have both?
        Southside Man,

        First, the reason we have a civil service in this country was an effort by men like Theodore Roosevelt to end the spoils system where incompetent, unqualified people were “rewarded” with jobs as political favors. You say you don’t care if a person passed a test. What is the alternative? That we have a system where jobs can be handed out like candy?

        Second, the civil service in New Rochelle is broken and everyone knows it. You have a proven tax cheat and fraud serving as the Chairman of the Municipal Service Commission. You have have the DA arresting employees for working no-show jobs. And what really did happen to Beverly Silverman?

        The City has, so far, not made the eligibility list public even though it was published on May 12, 2010. Before you dismiss the importance of the process how about we look and see who actually passed the test (12 people did) and who exactly made the eligible list.

        If you REALLY cared about the safety of the kids in the schools you would want to take a hard look at the many failures under Danielle’s watch including the recent intruder incident at Barnard, the attack on a teacher at Columbus and then there is Isaac and NRHS. If the district was not reporting phony VADIR numbers, they would both be classified as “persistently dangerous” which would put them in among the most dangerous schools in the State.

        This is the whole point of objecting to what is going on here. Danielle is not pushing for Koehler because Koehler is some sort of cross between Elliott Ness, James Bond and Harry Callaghan. Bruce is bucking for his buddy so he and Rolf can continue their little games of covering for each other. This is pure cronyism nothing more.

        The civil service process requires the district select from among the three most qualified candidates. The district gets to set the requirements and the job descriptions. With that much control, surely they can define a process that is both fair and delivers three good candidates to choose from.

        Fair or not, the process did produce 3 candidates. Rolf Koeher was not one of them. End of story. Not for Bruce and his pal Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Dominic Procopio, Marty Daly et al. Having made the rules, played the game and lost, Bruce wants to take his ball and go home if he does not get his way. Well boo-frigging-hoo for Bruce.

        Bottom line: If we do not have the rule of law here in New Rochelle then what DO we have?

      3. Southside FYI
        southside man; FYI the individual who scored 100% on the test is a street wise New Rochelle product. He has worked security for Madison Square Garden and the New York Mets. He comes from the west end and knows all about the gangs. By your standards he is the quintessential candidate, his only downfall is that he is not part of Danielle’s in crowd because he’s not a retired police officer.

      4. part of the requirement for
        part of the requirement for the position regardless of the 100 score clearly states law enforcement background. look up law enforcement agencies what you mentioned does not fall into that category. And if you are going to give out info on a person you certainly forgot one more qualification of this person with the police the west and gangs be truthful! You cant grandstand for one . there were three one hundred scores and only one had the min. qualifications of law enforcement.

      5. Speaking of grandstanding
        Since you’re grandstanding for Danielle and Koehler who I have no use for, let’s put it on the line. The requirements were changed from NR law enforcement which would have disqualified both of our candidates to law enforcement which allowed Koheler the inside track. Regardless, there was one candidate who scored 100% and had law enforcement experience, was that Koehler???????

        I await you answer!

      6. Then lets have him in there!!!!
        all I want is the right person for the job.
        I am sure we can all agree on that!

        The safety of all our children is the goal.

        And the gentlman who recieved a 100% on the test ,he schould get the job.

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