This article is the first of a seven-part series on my experience as an educator in the City School District of New Rochelle where I worked for 8 1/2 years.
My name is Richard Yanni. I am a former teacher at New Rochelle High School. I worked in the New Rochelle schools for 8 1/2 years. I would still be a teacher at the high school were it not for the maligned intervention of certain individuals. This is my story.
It is difficult to describe the level of injustice I have had to endure over the years, beginning in the 2004-2005 school year. While that may seem like ancient history to some, the key people involved remain working for the school district and the problems I uncovered remain, unaddressed.
I did nothing wrong while a teacher at New Rochelle High School. In fact, it was my effort to do the right thing for New Rochelle and my students — including the identification of major security breaches to the Novell System under the administrative supervision of, successively, Burt Blumkin, Christine Coleman and Larry Swack — that led to my separation from the District.
Coleman and Swack still operate as a team in the Information Technology Department in the City School District of New Rochelle.
They were then, and remain, now determined to cover up how they put the students, faculty, and administration of the District at great risk; and then propagated that risk across the BOCES server farm in Elmsford to 64 connected school districts. They were involved in illegal acts that are documented in writing.
To avoid scrutiny, they have been engaged in what I believe to be an ongoing campaign of character assassination against me, with the support of other school officials, few of whom had anything to do with the underlying matters.
I have done everything in my power to respectfully request justice, the return of my good name, the proper restoration of my professional status, and an accurate account of my significant contributions to the District and its most valuable assets—its students.
My ongoing request has been simple — for the District to correctly report to potential employers that I worked for the District for 8 1/2 years and to provide a letter of recommendation on District letterhead attesting to my good work for the District during that time.
This request has been refused and so I have reached a dead end.
I am left no other choice than to go directly to the people of New Rochelle with my story and hope that others might intercede on my behalf to right a longstanding wrong.
My story begins with my first teaching position in New Rochelle in 1977. For three academic years, from 1977 to 1980, I taught courses in Vocational Tool & Die Making which involved General Metalworking; Architectural and Engineering Board Drafting, a precursor to the current Architectural program at New Rochelle High School. I was awarded tenure.
In 1980, I resigned voluntarily to accept a position with International Solar, a company based in Colorado Springs. After many years working in the private sector I returned to New Rochelle.
In 2001, I was made aware that the high school was seeking to update an outdated board drafting program and turn it into a modern, Computer Aided Design curriculum. Based on my extensive experience, former House 2 Principal Fred Todora, a former colleague, recommending me to then-New Rochelle High School Principal Donald Baughman. I was hired and began my second go-round at New Rochelle High School in the fall of 2001.
During each academic year, between 2001 and 2005, I developed and taught Architectural Design I CAD, Architectural Design II CAD and Architectural Design III CAD.
I hold NYS Permanent Certifications in both Physics and in Technology. This allowed me to introduce a new STEM course titled Project Engineering. There was great interest in that course which immediately filled up with students eager to learn about the hands-on application of technology to areas such as engineering and business.
All was well. I greatly enjoyed teaching in New Rochelle, my students were an inspiration and the administration was pleased with my efforts to re-work what evolved into one of the few Architectural programs at the high school level in the United States.
I was granted tenure for a second time in 2004.
My last two years in New Rochelle, from 2005 to 2007, were spent banished from a classroom, locked away drafting curriculum, writing pages and pages that were most likely never read.
My fall from honored teaching colleague to pariah, came about due to false allegations made by one person — Christine Coleman — who arrived on the scene shortly after I was granted tenure.
She has now spent years smearing me — and being supported in doing that by an education bureaucracy that was quick to circle the wagons when holes in her allegations began to appear.
Coleman’s career in New Rochelle began with her bringing about a major security breach which I uncovered. Her remaining employment by the District relied on her poisoning the well against me to cover up what she had done. Her conduct and the ensuing smear campaign against me needs to be understood in that context.
But first I will go back to 1977 when a young and enthusiastic Richard Yanni began his teaching career in New Rochelle.