Reza Kolahifar, the Assistant to the Superintendent for Human Resources, acknowledged today that
at the time of her hire in 2004 during the time of her employment from 2007 until 2011 there was no valid administrative license on file with the New York State Education Department for Patricia Lambert, the Barnard Elementary School principal. The report came in the wake over the outcry over the news that Trinity Elementary School Principal Nadine Pacheco was forced to resign last month after it came to light that she has never had a valid administrative license since first being hired by the New Rochelle Board of Education in 2007. Talk of the Sound has been the first to report the various licensing issues of school administrators in New Rochelle.
Background checks for school administrators became a major issue in New Rochelle after the arrest of administrator Jose Martinez for child rape in his office at the Isaac E. Young Middle School.
Kolahifar published a letter today, addressed to the Barnard School Community, to address concerns about Lambert (emphasis added).
To the Barnard School Community:
Recently, there have been some questions raised publicly regarding Ms. Patricia Lambert’s administrative certification. We want to address this directly with the Barnard community. Our Superintendent of Schools, Richard Organisciak, has instructed the Human Resources Office to review the professional certification issued by the NYS Department of Education for every administrator in our district. I would like to assure everyone that Ms. Lambert has completed all the requirements to receive her permanent administrative certification and, therefore, is fully licensed to function in her position as Principal of the Barnard Elementary School. With the assistance of officials in the Professional Licensing Office at the State Education Department, the information available to the public about Ms. Lambert certification has been updated to reflect that her permanent School Administrator and Supervisor Certificate was issued effective September 1, 2007. This information can be viewed at the www.NYSED.gov Office of Teaching Initiatives website under the section Search for Certificate Holder. Ms. Lambert’s professional licenses were issued under the name of Patricia Lambert- Concepcion.
Mr. Reza Kolahifar
Asst. to the Supt. for Human Resources
City School District of New Rochelle
515 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801
Noticeably absent from the statement is any direct response to the specific concerns raised about Lambert, namely, that like Nadine Pacheco, the district did not have on file a valid administrative license for Lambert after the time of her hire in 2004 and continued to pay her as an administrator despite never obtaining a copy of her license. From records made public today, it appears that Lambert failed to obtain her permanent administrative license in 2007.
Kolahifar fails to address the direct question put to the district last week by Talk of the Sound — whether Lambert had a valid license at the time she was hired, maintained one throughout her employment and has a valid license today. Instead Kolahifar inverts his words to say “Ms. Lambert has completed all the requirements to receive her permanent administrative certification and, therefore, is fully licensed to function in her position as Principal of the Barnard Elementary School.”
She either had a license when she was hired or she did not. She either maintained a license or did not. That the district has gone about trying to clean up the mess after the fact has no bearing on the fundamental question — did the district have a valid license for Lambert on file when they hired her and in the years that followed?
Kolahifar continues “With the assistance of officials in the Professional Licensing Office at the State Education Department, the information available to the public about Ms. Lambert certification has been updated to reflect that her permanent School Administrator and Supervisor Certificate was issued effective September 1, 2007.”
What does “the information available to the public” mean? Did she have a license or not? Did the district work with their friends in SED to backdate records? Or, did the district always have a license on file for Lambert and there was some glitch from the web site? These are two very different things.
From the records made public today, it appears that Lambert may have had a temporary license when she was first hired but failed to obtain a permanent license when her temporary license expired.
Last week, Talk of the Sound accurately reported that there was no record in the NYSED web site that no “Patricia Lambert” ever had a New York State administrative license prior to the week before the current school year began. A search of New York State Education records show just one administrative license issued to a “Patricia Lambert”. There is a Patricia A Lambert who was issued a temporary two-year “School Building Leader Conditional Initial” license on September 1, 2011.
Lambert was hired as the Principal of the Barnard Elementary School in 2004 without a New York State administrative license, currently referred to as a “School Building Leader” certificate.
Kolahifar notes that Lambert’s professional licenses were issued under the name of Patricia Lambert-Concepcion. This statement serves no purpose other than to attempt to sow confusion and make it appear that this all just confusion about the correct spelling of her name. Talk of the Sound was already aware that Lambert also used the name “Lambert-Concepcion” and searched “Patricia Lambert”, “Patricia Concepcion and “Patricia Lambert-Concepcion” and Patricia Lambert Concepcion. There were no listings for anyone using any variation of the name Concepcion. The only listing for anyone with an administrative license in New York State with any variation of the name “Patricia” and “Lambert” was Patricia A Lambert.
You can search for yourself on the NYSED web site.
The SED web site now presents information showing a series of administrative licenses for Patricia Lambert covering the period of her employment in New Rochelle. None of which explains why there was no such information until today or how Lambert was hired when up until yesterday the SED had no record of her having administrative licenses.
Talk of the Sound has learned of a third, and possibly district fourth, district employee paid for an administrative position without an administrative license. More on that in the coming days. In the meantime, a complaint has been filed with the Westchester County District Attorney (by me), for what appear to be years of violating Article 61 § 3009 of the New York State Education Law. As noted previously on Talk of the Sound:
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 district is clearly guilty of violating Article 61 § 3009 between 2007 to 2011 in the case of Nadine Pacheco. It appears that they were also guilty of violating Article 61 § 3009 in the case of Patricia Lambert from 2007 to 2011. Lambert was required to initiate obtaining her permanent license, something she appears to have failed to do. The district is supposed to get a report from the SED listing any employees who do not have the proper licenses for their job. The position of the district is that New York State only checks teachers, not administrators, and so they never got any reports indicating problems with Pacheco or Lambert.