On WVOX, Organisiack says 676 graduated from NRHS yesterday (77.5%)

Written By: Robert Cox

UPDATE: Sources tell Talk of the Sound the actual graduation rate was closer to 57.5% than 77.5%. About 500 students actually met criteria for the certified graduation but 676 students were given diplomas.

The graduation rate in 2009 was 66%, in 2010 it was 69% so the 12% jump from 69% to 77.5% represents an implausible scenario where the graduation rose dramatically at the same time the standards were being raised dramatically. By all measures, the opposite should have been the case.

The Board of Education under Sara Richmond’s leadership achieved a wonderful thing for New Rochelle in requiring a certified graduation. That achievement was badly marred by the Board’s failure to keep close tabs on what Conetta was up to. They never asked just what Conetta meant by “credit recovery”. They never demanded a copy of a written policy, never asked how it was to be applied, never asked how many students were expected to be part o this program or the impact on graduation rates. It appears now that as many as 180 students may have received diplomas they did not earn or about 27% of those who walked in the ceremony yesterday.

Don Conetta made a mockery of the entire graduation process, yet again.

For the past several weeks Talk of the Sound has received numerous reports about NRHS Principal Don Conetta operating in panic mode. As previously reported on Talk of the Sound, as of June 1 just 291 students met criteria to graduate and by June 7 310 had met criteria. It was noted at the time that those numbers would increase as as students took regents exams and earned credits. The idea that they would jump from 310 to 676 is preposterous.


The word is that Principal Don Conetta, along with Assistant Principal Joseph Starvaggi, spent the past several weeks working non-stop to artificially increase those numbers through various manipulations:

1. Removing unexcused absences from school records.
2. Pressuring teachers to change grades for failing students.
3. Telling students who had not earned their Physical Education credits to show up at the high school at 7 a.m. for the last 2 weeks of school and then granting them a full year credit for P.E.
4. Giving students credits for courses they never took, assigning them passing grades for those classes.
5. When all else failed, Starvaggi and Conetta simply went into the computer system and changed F’s to passing grades.


Last night, at the end-of-the year School District party, as Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Board Members David Lacher and Diedre Polow and other officials looked on as a severely intoxicated Conetta was led from the party. Conetta was so drunk that he had to be driven home. Two district employees, Mike Kenny and Joe Brown drove Conetta back to Connecticut. Connetta’s problems with alcohol are well-known around the district.


Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Vicky Rossi, a teacher transferred against her wishes from New Rochelle High School to the Alternative Campus at St. Gabriel’s School, has been complaining that the reason she was transferred is because certain people found out that she was engaged in a long-term sexual relationship with Conetta. Both Conetta and Rossi was married (to other people). Conetta also has children.

4 thoughts on “On WVOX, Organisiack says 676 graduated from NRHS yesterday (77.5%)”

  1. More fuzzy math from the BoE!
    So is the math, 676 graduated out of 842? That would match or come close to matching the 77.5%, but clearly some of the 676 graduates have taken more than 4 years to graduate so the percentage has to be lower than 77.5%.

    Journal news reported that NR graduation rate was 69% in 2010.

  2. percent graduating?
    I thought the percen graduating had to be determined by how many entered the school system in ninth grade (or it could be tenth grade). Can it be clarified why this is not used in New Rochelle?

  3. At the most recent BOE mtg,
    At the most recent BOE mtg, about six weeks ago, Mr. Conetta indicated that the current 2011 senior cohort slated for HS graduation this June was at 63% – i.e, 63% of the 862 senior students that began the school year. Of the 862, 148 were failing one or more courses and were not slated to graduate on time.; 60 would need Summer classes; 28 had dropped out. Only 54% of the african american 2011 seniors were slated to graduate on time. Where did he get those numbers?
    Not to take away the efforts of the students who work hard and good teachers who provide support, but I find these results suspect given that this is the first Certified graduation in NRHS. We all have heard Mr. Conetta note that in the last couple of weeks, his policy of “Credit Recovery” has made a difference. Wel, what I have heard from staff and teachers at NRHS is that Mr, Conetta has placed undue pressure on tecaqhers to ensure that students, who were failing all year, were now doing sufficient work to pass and thus graduate. Does this smell or what? I think it’s incumbent on the Board of Education to do their ude diligence and ask questions; see the numbers for themselves etc. Don’t assume that what the administration is telling is correct. The NYS Education Department must be made aware so that an audit is done.

    1. Graduation
      Martin, I know the landscape and dealing with Albany never pans out. You can have a clear-cut, albeit inferential case in most cases, and not get a hearing. As Bob knows, you can even have a well documented case that should survive subsequent scrutiny, but it goes to some bureaucrat who protects the system and not the complaintant.

      Maybe things have changed with the new regime in Albany. However, I do not think so.

      You are a former school board member if I recall correctly. This should add some weight to your words. Perhaps you could present a case to Albany even noting my doubts of assistance. Or, perhaps, you could ask your Council Member to act, confirm, whatever it takes to get some visibility on what is one of the worst examples of intemperate and destructive behavior I have ever read.

      This is another example of why I will continue to press the City to take an active role in this disaster. Polow and Lacher have had years to act but they never have “seen” what lies before them. I am of the opinion that Sara Richmond was a splendid choice who, if given support by City and board, would have made a major difference.

      You see, it is not naive to bring up these matters in the context of city governance. It is your money and our responsibility as a community. Do what you can.

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