UPDATED WITH UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO (see below)
Despite significant evidence of corruption, malfeasance and incompetence in the Buildings & Grounds department, a unit run by John Gallagher of Aramark Schools, the New Rochelle Board of Education plans to approve a resolution extending a three-quarter million dollar contract with Aramark Management Services, Limited.
This comes despite an attempt last March by school administrators to violate the Aramark contract to pave the way for Aramark employees to qualify for a more lucrative New York State pension in the event the Aramark contract were to be terminated (video below). Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak and Assistant Superintendent John Quinn intend to hire the three employees in the event the board terminates the Aramark contract, sources tell Talk of the Sound.
Tonight’s resolution reads as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 12-352 RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING A CONTRACT WITH THE ARAMARK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP FOR THE 2012-2013 SCHOOL YEAR
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New Rochelle, New York, be and hereby approves the continuation of the contract with the ARAMARK Management Services Limited Partnership, 1717 Arch Street, 42nd Floor. Philadelphia, PA 19103, to provide contractual management support services of the school districts’ facilities during the 2012-2013 school year; and, be it further RESOLVED, that the Board of Education authorizes payment to the ARAMARK Management Services Limited Partnership for such services at an annual fee of $744,356.00, to be paid in semi-monthly payments of $31,014.84 for the 2012·2013 school year; and, be it further RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.
The company, also known as Aramark Schools or ServiceMaster, has had this contract for over 25 years. The contract has not been let out for bid in more than 12 years, according to board member Deidre Polow.
The board has been provided copious amounts of information indicating that Aramark Schools sits atop a rat’s nest of corruption in the Buildings & Grounds Department at the City School District of New Rochelle. During the last budget cycle, Board members, the Citizens Advisory Committee and members of the public raised numerous questions about the failure to bid out the Aramark contract. Board members have openly demanded that the Buildings & Grounds Contract be put out for bid, many have stated they want Aramark gone as soon as possible and they want the Aramark employees currently working in the district gone immediately. Under a provision of the contract, the school district can direct Aramark to immediately remove any and all Aramark employees from New Rochelle schools without prior notice.
Matters reached a breaking point last March when board members learned that Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Assistant Superintendent John Quinn and attorney Jeffery Kehl conspired to bring forward a resolution designed to do an end run around the board while defrauding taxpayers, sources say. These sources tell Talk of the Sound the plan was to sneak three Aramark employees onto the school district payroll during a Special Meeting of the school board on March 27th. It was imperative for them to pass Resolution 12-266-1 that night in order to meet an April 1st deadline to qualify the three Aramark employees — John Gallagher, James Purdie, and Anthony Rigos — for a Tier V pension after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a Pension Reform bill on March 16, 2012.
The March resolution read:
RESOLUTION NO. 12-266-1 RESOLUTION APPROVING PAYMENT FOR ADDITIONAL WORK RELATED TO THE ONE-TIME SPECIAL FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS
RESOLYED, that the following personnel be authorized and approved to work on the one-time film project at Isaac E. Young Middle School (Resolution No. 12-263, dated 03/8/2012) during the period Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11,2012, at the hourly rates below; these fees will then be charged back to the film company for reimbursement.
NAME NO. OF HOURS RATE OF PAY
John Gallagher 15 $18.77
Arthur Lamber 8 $18.77
James Purdie 9 $18.77
Anthony Rigos 9 $18.77
Leon Spady 13 $21.84
Mike Umbro 16 $51.30
RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.
Resolution 12-266-1 was tabled after board member Jeffrey Hastie demanded to know why the school district would pay Aramark employees (John Gallagher, James Purdie, Anthony Rigos) overtime as proposed in Resolution 12-266-1.
[Video of Hastie Questioning Quinn and Organisciak Embedded Above]
As Hastie pressed, Quinn and Organisciak sputtered.
“The three Aramark employees went above and beyond” said Organisciak and he and Quinn attempted to justify paying the three Aramark employees outside the contract.
A senior school district official met with a board member after the meeting to confirm that, in fact, none of the six people named in the resolution actually worked at all that weekend. Despite this the board is now considering a resolution to pay three of the six named in Resolution 12-266-1 under Resolution 13-47.
Hastie further pressed Quinn and Organisciak to explain why the resolution had to be passed at the same meeting where it was introduced as most draft board resolutions are considered for a week and then voted on by the board. Quinn became flustered and turned bright red.
Hastie continued, asking if there was any precedent for this, whether the district had ever paid any Aramark employees directly. Quinn started to answer “It’s the first time we…” and Organisicak finished for him “…first time we ever had it” in an attempt to bail our Quinn.
“Exactly,” said Hastie. “That’s my point”.
Board President Chrisanne Petrone asked Quinn whether paying the Aramark employees would violate the terms of the Aramark contract. Failing to get a satisfactory answer from Quinn or Organisciak, Petrone recommended tabling the motion.
As the Resolution faltered, Organisciak become upset, placing his hand over his mouth, a “tell” that board watchers know means Organisciak is very angry. He tried several more times to save the resolution, attempting to enlist the support of F.U.S.E. President Marty Daly who refused to even look up from his seat when Organisciak tried to justify passing the resolution in order to pay the two F.U.S.E. members listed in the resolution. Daly did not budge and Organisciak gave up.
Petrone was right to ask whether the resolution would expose the board legally with regard to the Aramark contract. It was a clear violation of the contract.
Section 1 a (1) of the Aramark contract states that Aramark will make all payments to its employees. Section 6 is a non-compete clause that says neither side will hire the other side’s employees for a period of one year. There is a provision for Aramark to waive its rights under the contract.
Talk of the Sound spoke with Steven M. Weiser, Regional Vice President for Aramark Schools based in Philadelphia, PA. Weiser is a signatory to an amendment to the contract made in 2007 and responsible within Aramark for the City School District of New Rochelle account.
“This is the first I’m hearing of it,” said Weiser, when asked whether Aramark had waived their rights under the contract which prohibit the school district from making direct payment to Aramark employees.
Weiser went on to say that he was unaware of any discussions or resolutions regarding payments to John Gallagher, James Purdie, and Anthony Rigos for overtime related to a film project or any other work. Weiser became silent when informed of the implications of putting Aramark employees on the district payroll before the Tier V Pension deadline in New York State at which point he stated he would need to refer the matter to the company’s communications department.
Resolution 13-47 references a different resolution as tabled: “Resolution No. 12-263, dated 3/8/12, tabled”. In fact, 12-263 was approved, not tabled. Resolution 12-266-1 is the resolution that was tabled on March 27th. This is the resolution the board is considering tonight:
RESOLUTION NO. 13-47 RESOLUTION APPROVING PAYMENT FOR ADDITIONAL WORK RELATED TO THE ONE-TIME SPECIAL FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS
RESOLVED, that the following personnel be authorized and approved to work, on the one-time film project at Isaac E. Young Middle School, (Resolution No. 12-263, dated 3/8/12, tabled), during the period Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, 2012, at the hourly rates, as follows: These fees will then be charged back to the film company for reimbursement.
NAME / NO. OF HOURS
Arthur Lambert 8 $18.77
Leon Spady 13 $21.84
Mike Umbra 16 $51.30
Resolution 12-263 said nothing at all about authorizing and approving work or payment for work to anyone. It reads as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 12-263 RESOLUTION APPROVING THE GRANTING OF A SPECIAL ONE-TIME USE PERMIT FOR A FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS, LLC
WHEREAS, FTP Productions, LLC has requested permission to film a portion of a movie consisting of a collegiate varsity rugby competition and related locker room scenes on the field and premises of Isaac E. Young Middle School; and
WHEREAS, the City School District of New Rochelle has been furnished with a copy of a shooting script confirming that the proposed use will be appropriate and will not bring the School District into disrepute; and
WHEREAS, FTP Productions, LLC has offered a location fee in the amount of $15,000 and the restoration of any damage to the school premises resulting from the proposed use; and
WHEREAS, the City of New Rochelle has requested that the School District accommodate the film project; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education hereby approves the grant of a special one-time use permit for the project as aforesaid, subject in all respects to the negotiation of a formal location agreement, in form and substance satisfactory to School District counsel and the Superintendent of Schools, providing for the aforesaid terms and such other provisions regarding insurance and liability as may be appropriate; and be it further
RESOLVED, that at the conclusion of the project the Board of Education and the administration shall evaluate the success of the project and determine whether any amendment to the Board of Education policies and related regulations regarding the use of school premises by outside groups should be considered for the future; and be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.
So, why does Resolution 13-47 say “tabled”, referencing Resolution 12-263 which was approved and not Resolution 12-266-1 which was tabled.
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HASTIE: Yes, Im sorry. I feel like I am the only one asking questions tonight. Um, the first question is a general. I have several questions on this actually, the, um, first question is “What was the revenue we got from the uh…the film…
ORGANISCIAK: Fifteen thousand dollars from the movie company initially and then they had to take an extra day and I do believe that that amount came in about four thousand dollars or so, so I think the grand total was in the total of about twenty thousand dollars…
ORGANISCIAK: …give or take.
HASTIE: OK. Great. And the money we’re paying these gentleman, uh, they’re all gentleman, yes, the money we’re paying these gentleman will come out of that?
ORGANISCIAK: The money? Yes.
HASTIE: We’re not charging them extra for this piece?
PETRONE: No, it’s…
ORGANISCIAK: No, we’re not…
QUINN: It’s in addition to…
ORGANISCIAK: I’m sorry, No. No. John’s correct.
QUINN: It’s in addition to…
ORGANISCIAK: It’s in addition to…right.
QUINN: The rental fee was nineteen thousand dollars…all of our variable expenses are charged on top of that.
HASTIE: On top of that…OK…perfect. Then the other question I have…is…I know John Gallagher, I guess, James Purdie, Anthony Rigos, and I guess Arthur Lambert…all four of those are the Armark employees, correct?
QUINN: Uh…No. I think only three of them.
ORGANISCIAK: Three out of the four.
HASTIE: Three of them.
QUINN: …one of them is ours.
HASTIE: So, what is the…so…that seems…doesn’t seem to make sense. If they’re Aramark employees why are we…why are we paying them?
ORGANISCIAK: Because they did extra work above and beyond what it is they are paid to do.
HASTIE: And is that something that’s that’s in the contract…that’s allowed to do…that we can pay them extra money outside of the contract that we already pay a lot of money for?
ORGANISCIAK: Um huh.
QUINN: It’s above and beyond what we would normally expect them to do. It’s the first time we…
ORGANISCIAK: First time we ever had it.
HASTIE (OFF-MIC): Exactly, that’s my point.
QUINN: [inaudible/crosstalk] …a movie company…so it’s really above and beyond [inaudible] extra [inaudible] …above and beyond…
HASTIE: And what was the work they did?
QUINN: …and the cost…the cost is borne by the movie company.
QUINN: …the cost….
HASTIE: What was the work they did?
QUINN: They were working with the company setting up making sure the set up would not be disruptive to the schools and also protecting the property.
ORGANISCIAK: Um huh
HASTIE: Right, and then, uh…
QUINN: …then following up…
HASTIE: ..I’m sorry…
QUINN: …to make sure that what was said was actually done.
ORGANISCIAK: Um huh.
QUINN: …they were looking out for the school district’s interests.
HASTIE: OK. And then the last question I have is…I know we have a Special Meeting afterwards…and the question…the question one I have is…I want to get back and just find out from our contract. I want…one, I want to table this until maybe next week because I don’t understand why we need to vote on this tonight what’s the sense of urgency for this…and I know we’ve got another amendment that we’re voting on tonight mainly because we have a time constraint on the election piece…we need to have that done prior…uh…within the 45 days which falls between now and next week. This one however I don’t know why we need to do this tonight so I would like to hear from our legal counsel just on…um… paying our contracted contractors outside…although it’s not coming from us its coming from the film company I don’t understand why we would have to pay contractors that we pay a good sum of money for already for additional hours and additional work. So, my recommendation is to table this until next week, at least.
PETRONE: Anyone else…coming in?
RELKIN: I just had a question about what Mr. Hastie just said. If…if it’s being…um…if the fees are being charged back to the film company for reimbursement, I just…I’m missing what the issue is for you…
HASTIE: What the issue is that they’re contracted…
RELKIN: No, no, no…what the issue is for you about the payment because if the charge is…if the payment is being charged back to the film company…
RELKIN: Why does it matter? I’m sorry? It’s just…
MERCHANT: it’s [crosstalk]
HASTIE: No…I understand…it’s a valid question My concern is that we have, we have a contract with Aramark for them to do work on our, on our facilities and then now we are passing…we as a board…are passing a resolution to have them paid. So, one, why do we have to pass a resolution if it’s coming from the film company then they can just pay them…?
RELKIN: …you’re saying then why isn’t the film company paying directly?
HASTIE: …why doesn’t the film company pay them directly…
RELKIN: …that’s your issue?
HASTIE: …exactly so why are we doing a resolution on that. That’s the first thing and why is it being subjected to our resolution. Second of all why are we just getting this resolution and have to pass it tonight as part of a Special Meeting. I don’t understand the connection…why that has to be done tonight.
RELKIN: OK. Thanks.
ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Quinn did you want to say something?
QUINN: Yes, we would being pay them…charge them…so there is no charge to the board…
QUINN: …and they are not paying any of our staff directly so the other people on the resolution are paid directly to them…we bill them, they pay us…[inaudible] so it passes through…
PETRONE: I understand…
QUINN: …when the contract with Aramark came out it wasn’t the board’s policy to rent to film companies. I think it was the policy not to rent to film companies…and so this really is very much outside what the expectation would be.
HASTIE: And so what…so…still doesn’t answer why do we have to approve this resolution tonight?
QUINN: We’re trying to get the bills out the door.
ORGANISCIAK: To get people paid…
QUINN: But, uh…[crosstalk]
HASTIE: Yeah, but there’s plenty of people that we have…you know that when we do a res…typically as you know with our resolutions we get ’em for the Committee of the Whole meetings the last week of…Tuesday…and the following week we vote on the resolution so why is this one out of all the other ones have to be done tonight why is this being pushed to be approved tonight?
QUINN: We wanted to expedite payment…
PETRONE: I have a question, more to what Jeffrey is saying. Is there anything in the Aramark contract that can get us in trouble for paying their employees as hourly employees. That’s more of an issue because if that’s an issue then we do have to table this for conference with our legal…
HASTIE: And I do think we should get legal…
ORGANISCIAK: It’s just a few hundred dollars and…
PETRONE: It’s not…It’s not a matter of the amount. It’s a matter of the process. If it’s a dollar and it’s a legal issue and it can get us in trouble, I am not willing to put the board in that position.
ORGANISCIAK: Uh huh…
BRICKELL: I agree Chrisanne.
QUINN: Then that might be something, why don’t we set [crosstalk]…
PETRONE: Yeah, we may have to…
PETRONE: …that’s my only….that’s my only concern is that if people have a concern about that it…
QUINN: …[inaudible] dollars…
PETRONE: …it doesn’t come out the dollars of whose pocket it comes out to if there is a little loophole in the Aramark contract that basically says that…and granted I am not denying that whatever the work is done that they’ve gone above and beyond, they’ve done it on the weekend, we don’t have them working on the weekend. I think, I don’t think that is the issue here. What I am hearing in Jeffrey’s statement is “Is there something in the Aramark contract that says we cannot hire them under and pay them separately?” That would concern me more because…you know…have we conferred with…has our attorney seen this resolution ’cause I haven’t had a discussion with him myself…?
QUINN: Neither have I and I really…
PETRONE: …and maybe that means we have to table this and have that conversation.
ORGANISCIAK: I would only ask that you also consider that there are Board of Ed employees on this resolution. There are three people…
PETRONE: ….so then we are…
ORGANISCIAK: …who are members of the F.U.S.E. bargaining unit. There are members who are paid hourly rates for their work. I would only ask what the board would like to do on that?
PETRONE: Well, Rich, we have a meeting next week. If we have this…we’re talking about a week…
PETRONE: …difference then all we have to do we can vote on that. I can get back to the attorneys, get that answer.
PETRONE: …We can put this through. We can have it amended or whatever. I think the the bigger question is making sure that…you know I don’t think the question is not about whose getting paid whatever. If this means we then have to do two resolutions or resolution for for payment…
PETRONE: …to Aramark for additional duties done above and beyond the call of duty and one separate for our employees…
PETRONE: …I don’t have a problem with that. I think that Jeffrey’s point is well taken with it does not matter whether it’s a dollar or five hundred or whatever if this exposes us in any way it’s our responsibly to have the quest…to ask the question and have the conversation. I’m not ready to put us out and expose us in that level.
ORELLANA: Chrisanne? Are all of these employees exempt employees?
PETRONE: I don’t know.
ORGANISCIAK: What do you mean by exempt?
ORELLANA: Are they all salaried? Are they…are any of them hourly employees?
QUINN: They all are…they are…
PETRONE: For the purpose of this resolution…
ORGANISCIAK: No, they’re not all our employees…
PETRONE: …they’re considered hourly…
ORELLANA: I mean normally are they salaried employees?
LACHER: I mean…Gallagher…Gallagher is certainly not an hourly…
ORGANISCIAK: …people here are regulars…on regular salary…
PETRONE: …they’re regular salaried employees…
ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Umbro is a full time custodian…
ORELLANA: …none of them are hourly?
ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Umbro is a full time custodian…
ORGANISCIAK: …so that’s why he is included there at the hourly rate which is contractual.
PETRONE: Right. Do you want to touch on that? While you’re…we’re uh…
ORGANISCIAK: Well one of the elements we are discussing and we will be duh bringing to the board uh is the whole issue and I think the Advisory Committee touched on it actually which had to with hourly…
LACHER (ASIDE TO PETRONE): We need a motion to table it.
ORGANISCIAK: and from the perspective of looking at what can be reasonably offered for hourly-type of employment that’s part of what I would suspect we’re going to do going forward but that’s in line with what I think I heard earlier from the Advisory Committee as well as some sense of having people having brought that up before so this is an ongoing conversation about what hourly compensation should be.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Excuse me, Can I just mention one little thing?
ORGANISCIAK: No, you can’t.
PETRONE: alright, continuing on….
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In addition to the Aramark contract and the fraudulent payments for work not done on the film project at Isaac, there will be several other noteworthy resolutions considered tonight.
RESOLUTION NO. 13-44 RESOLUTION SETTING THE SALARIES OF SCHOOL DISTRICT PERSONNEL EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2012
RESOLVED, that the salaries of the School District central administration personnel not
covered by the forgoing provisions of this resolution be set effective July 1,2012 as follows:
Superintendent of Schools Richard E. Organisciak $272,496.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools John B. Quinn 209.171.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Korostoff, Ed. D. 209.171.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Diane Massimo. Ph. D. 209.171.00
Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools Reza Kolahifar 145,493.00
Resolution 12-347-12 CO-CURRICULAR CLUBS/ACTIVITIES – NEW ROCHELLE HIGH SCHOOL STAFF MEMBER AUTHORIZATION
This resolution includes a list of stipends to be paid to New Rochelle staff for overseeing various clubs and activities. The Federal Equal Access Act requires equal treatment for all non-curriculum related clubs regardless of the content of speech at the club meetings. The moderators that I know do great work and go far beyond what they are paid to do. However, Board members might want to require that before being asked to pass this resolution that they get a list of the level of activity and involvement in these clubs. Perhaps they should ask for the number of members of these clubs, using some reasonable measure, and the frequency with which they meet or engage in activities. In other words, does the public have any assurances that these clubs which may have been very active at one time are still active recognizing the possibility that a stipend recipient had little motivation to to proactively inform anyone that their club is dormant or close to it.
RESOLUTION No. 12-347-1 PROBATIONARY APPOINTMENTS – PRINCIPALS COLUMBUS AND TRINITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
DiCarlo, Anthony, Tenure Area, Elementary School Principal, assigned to Trinity Elementary School, Salary Schedule EP, Step 9, $163,715, effective July 1,2012 to August 31. 2015, replacing Rolando Briceno, resigned.
Nunez, Sonia, Tenure Area, Elementary School Principal, assigned to Columbus Elementary School, Salary Schedule EP, Step 2, $141,904, effective July 1,2012 to August 31, 2015, replacing Dr. Yigal Joseph, retired.
RESOLUTION NO. 12-354 RESOLUTION URGING STATE LAWMAKERS TO PROVIDE MANDATE RELIEF
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in accordance with Article 24. Executive Law §666, which establishes a Mandate Relief Council, the City School District of the City of New Rochelle, a Small Cities school district located in the City of New Rochelle, County of Westchester, State of New York. with an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students for 2011-2012 school year, asks, by resolution of its governing body, that the Mandate Relief Council review the following mandate to determine whether the specific statute, regulation, rule or order of state government is an unfunded mandate or is otherwise unsound, unduly burdensome or costly so as to require that it be eliminated or reformed:
Last In, First Out LIFO
Seniority should not be mandated as the sole factor when reducing tenured staff. Education Law Sections 2510 and 3013 (cities). Using Last In, First Out-LIFO is not educationally sound decision-making because it prohibits a district from considering such factors as, but not limited to, expertise, skill, quality of instruction and specialized certification. For example, teachers certified in French and Spanish all fall within the same tenure area of foreign language. While the least senior member of the foreign language department may be a “French expert” teacher, and no one else in the department possesses that same expertise, the least senior member, i.e., the “French” teacher, would be the faculty member excessed in the foreign language tenure area, thus forcing the district to either retain a less qualified member of the teaching staff, i.e. a “Spanish” teacher who may lack the certification required to teach the French class(es), or eliminate the program. This example is one of many possible scenarios that can affect multiple subject areas in secondary education outside of foreign language.