After a tumultuous Special PTA meeting on Thursday night at the Trinity Elementary School, and in the face of a hostile reaction to the arrogant demeanor of Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, members of the school board prevailed upon Organisciak to reverse his decision to remove a popular young teacher from her classroom in order to make way for the recently resigned Assistant Principal.
Nadine Pacheco resigned as Assistant Principal at Trinity last month because she did not have the required administrative license to hold the position at any point during her employment as an administrator in New Rochelle going back to 2007. Pacheco previously held a temporary license which expired in 2005.
The district has been, so far, unable to explain how they hired a person without an administrative license for an administrative position requiring such a license.
Under New York State law, school board members may face misdemeanor charges and fines going back as far as 2004 for hiring and employing as school administrators without state certification.
Nicole Mussolini, a new teacher who had previously worked as a substitute teacher, was scheduled to be promoted in a board resolution that was tabled at the school board meeting on Tuesday. At the Trinity PTA meeting, when asked whether Mussolini would have her pay cut as a result of the change, Richard Organisciak was evasive and would not directly answer the question. He stated that she was being paid $100 per day and that would continue to be her pay. When parents pressed harder, he stated that the $100 per diem was for 80 days and that after 80 days her pay would have increased but now it would not.
Organisciak failed to mention, Resolution 12-153-14, which was tabled on Tuesday, appoints both Pacheco and Mussolini as interim teachers at Trinity. Had the resolution adopted, Mussolini’s pay would have gone from roughly $18,000 a year to $60,366 a difference of $42,366 or more than triple her current pay as a per-diem teacher.
Organisciak refused repeated requests by Trinity parents and New Rochelle residents to explain how Pacheco was hired in the first place.
“I’m not hear to talk about the past”, said Organisciak. “I am hear to talk about moving forward.”
Organisciak has good reason not to want to answer questions about the hiring of Pacheco as well as another administrator without the required license.
The employment by the New Rochelle Board of Education of Nadine Pacheco as Assistant Principal at Trinity Elementary School and Patricia Lambert at Barnard Elementary School appears to violate state law and may subject school board members personally to misdemeanor charges and fines. Neither Pacheco or Lambert appear to have had the required administrative licenses to work as an administrator in New York state public schools.
The law in question is Education Law §3009 which makes it illegal to hire individuals not appropriately certified or licensed. The law states “No part of the school moneys apportioned to a district shall be applied to the payment of the salary of an unqualified teacher”. A teacher or administrator is considered qualified if they are appropriately certified in accordance with Part 80 of the Commissioner’s regulations.
New York Education Article 61 § 3009 (1): Unqualified Teachers Shall Not Be Paid From School Moneys
No part of the school moneys apportioned to a district shall be applied to the payment of the salary of an unqualified teacher, nor shall his salary, or any part thereof, be collected by a district tax except as provided in this chapter.
N.Y. EDN. LAW § 3010 NY Code Section 3010: Penalty for payment of unqualified teacher.
Any trustee or member of a board of education who applies, or directs, or consents to the application of, any district money to the payment of an unqualified teacher’s salary, thereby commits a misdemeanor; and any fine imposed upon him therefor shall be for the benefit of the common schools of the district.
The entire matter is complex and multi-layered. There are a number of parents, leaders within the Trinity community, who dislike the school principal Rolando Briceño and would like to see him denied tenure. There are administrators who, as a general rule, do not like to see their hiring decisions questioned. There is the administrators union led locally by Webster Principal Joe Williams and statewide by former Albert Leonard Middle School Principal Bill Evans which always wants to defend one of its members. There is the school board which presents itself publicly as a monolith but is, in fact, divided on Organisciak generally and the way he had handled the Pacheco situation. Several board members, after the meeting, made it clear they were unhappy with the Superintendent’s performance which only served to further exacerbate an already thorny problem at the school where trust in the administration is very low.