NEW ROCHELLE, NY — In the wake of reporting by Talk of the Sound and Journal News which brought to light serious fraud allegations including the use Apex Credit Recovery service to fix grades and boost graduation rates, an email is now circulating among the highest reaches of the City School District of New Rochelle alleging more grade-fixing and fraud in the New Rochelle High School Art Department.
In an email sent to senior school officials, three members of the New Rochelle High School Art Department Faculty are alleging gross misconduct and unethical practices involving the Guidance Department, the Night School Division and the Chair of the Art Department. The email describes a time line of communications between the three teachers, their Department Chair Marc Schneider, Guidance Counselor Administrator Greg Sloane, and Administrator of the Night School Maureen Maire.
A copy of the email, sent today to Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne, New Rochelle High School, Principal Reggie Richardson, Art Department Chair Marc Schneider and others, was provided to Talk of the Sound which had redacted the names of the teachers and students. The three teachers say that they have evidence to support the “failure of proper school and grading protocols being followed in regards to credit recovery”. They are demanding to know how such practices are being sanctioned, and by what office.
The timeline reads as follows:
Thursday, April 26th, 2018
Maria Nunez approached me, (Teacher 1) during the NRHS senior awards meeting, to take on Senior Student A as an Independent Study for 1/2 year art credit. I refused as the academic year was already at its close, and suggested she contact Maureen Maire in Night School to register for any credits needed, and/or enroll in APEX credit recovery. Maria informed me that she had already approached Ms. Maire who also declined as the deadline for night school course enrollment had also passed.
Thursday, May 17th
Art teachers Teacher 2 and Teacher 3 were approached by students Student A and his friend Student B to borrow paint. When asked what it was for, they said it was to complete art worksheets given by House II guidance Counselor, Maria Nunez. Confused, both students were brought to the PAVE office to establish why Student A would be completing coursework for Ms. Nunez, a ‘counselor’, and not work assigned by any of our 8 NYS licensed art teachers.
In further discussion with Student A, Administrator 1 (PAVE admin), and art teachers Teacher 4, Teacher 2, Teacher 3, were shown worksheets from Teacher 4 & Teacher 5’s Studio art classes, along with emails the student had received from Ms. Nunez on how to complete them.
Teacher 4 and Teacher 5 both confirmed that at no point were they educating this student. This student was not enrolled in any Studio Art class with any other teacher for the 2017/2018 academic year. Moreover, neither Teacher 4 nor Teacher 5 were in communication with Ms. Nunez, or had given permission to her to take and use their coursework. The department files for Independent Study do not include any approved coursework or endorsed paperwork by any instructor or Department Chair for Student 1, and when caught up to speed, Marc Schneider confirmed that he was in no way involved in the education of this student.
Friday, May 18th
Upon returning from my absence on Thursday, May 17th, and hearing what happened the day before, I shared my conversation and exchange with counselor Maria Nunez on April 26th with my Department Chair Marc Schneider. I confirmed again that the request for Independent Study was denied by both Maureen Maire (according to Ms. Nunez’s admission), and myself, and that we should have a meeting with Gregg Sloane as soon as possible to address such questionable and unethical practices by Ms. Nunez. As a Department, it was imperative that we establish the facts regarding this students legal coursework and credits.
Tuesday, May 21st
I returned to the PAVE office and asked Marc Schneider if he had contacted Mr. Sloane as I had requested on Friday, May 18th. He stated that he sent an email to him discussing the student’s transcript and “establishing his credits”. I asked him to what extent he explained Maria Nunez’s behavior, and Marc said he did not, and that it was Mr. Sloane’s responsibility to figure out what his staff is doing. I explained that unless he pointed out this unprofessional behavior, that Mr Sloane would just assume that Ms Nunez, a seasoned counselor, would be following protocol. Mr.Schneider then stated that if I wanted to again speak to Mr. Sloane, with him, I could do so. I called the Guidance Office and asked his secretary to have Mr.Sloane come to the Art Office when he had time to speak to all of us.
I then went to teach my 2nd period class. At the end of class, Mr.Schneider came into my room and stated that he went and spoke to Mr. Sloane and Ms. Nunez and they discussed it. After I was told that we could speak together, with all those directly involved, and had made an appointment directly, Mr. Schneider then went on his own. At that point when he explained the conversation, I was still NOT satisfied that all the facts and information had been shared.
Determined to report accurately, and obtain answers, I went to speak to Mr. Sloane with Teacher 4 and Teacher 5 at the end of 3rd period. Mr.Sloane was in the Main Office Safe and the three of us filled him in with the entire timeline of details. We also stated our dissatisfaction with how Mr.Schneider handled the whole situation and that we were requesting that Mr. Sloane investigate, and follow up with higher level administration, and Ms. Nunez properly.
Period 7, Mr. Sloane came to my class to say that he spoke to Ms. Nunez and that she was doing an Independent Study with Teacher 5 and mentioned seeing some paperwork on it. Mr. Sloane did not show me any paperwork. I stated that I felt that was a “story” because if Ms. Maire and Ms.Nunez had arranged something, I would have never been asked on April 26 to get involved. I would have never been told that Ms. Maire had denied the request. Maria Nunez would not be stealing worksheets from my colleagues coursework. Mr.Schneider would have been properly involved in an Independent Study contract, and been aware of this seniors academic needs. The student would not have been coming to a day school class for supplies because he was properly processed within our department and under the tutelage of one of our NYS licensed art instructors.
Integrity has been severely compromised on many levels. There must be consequences for such unprofessionalism and questionable conduct. As the guest speaker for the National Honor Society Induction ceremony on the same evening, students were commended not only on their academic achievements, but their level of Service, Leadership, and Character. That same sentiment needs to be reinstated here, within our school administration, professional staff and practices. Any one person or office operating outside the clearly defined boundaries of our positions and certifications must be held accountable.
NRHS Art Dept