New Rochelle BOE President Reneged on Appearance Before City Council Last Month at Last Minute

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Talk of the Sound has obtained copies of an email exchange through a Freedom of Information request that show New Rochelle Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie reneged on a planned appearance before the New Rochelle City Council last month where he had agreed to answer questions of concern to City Council members.

At the November 13, 2018 City Council Committee of the Whole Meeting, a discussion took place which prompted an email on November 14th from New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson to Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey, New Rochelle Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie and New Rochelle Board of Education Vice President Amy Moselhi.

Jeffrey, Amy, and Magda,

If you have just a little spare time, can I ask you please to view twenty minutes of last night’s City Council meeting.  A link follows below.  You’ll have to click on “Video” for the November 13th meeting.  Then look at 1:25:30 – 1:45:00.  (The middle few minutes are not relevant, but the beginning and end of this stretch are.)

https://www.newrochelleny.com/999/Watch-Council-Meetings

This video provides context for a request.  Would one (or two, or all three of you) be willing to attend a future City Council meeting to address topics of mutual interest to the City and School District?  As you can see from the video, there were several questions raised by Council Members on School-related matters, and while Chuck and I did our best to explain the School District’s positions, we really don’t have the knowledge (or authority) to answer such questions definitively.

This doesn’t need to be a big production. Just an opportunity to share information.  We could certainly agree on the topics/parameters in advance, so no one gets surprised.

Chuck is copied.  Please let us know what you think.

Noam

Jeffrey Hastie agreed to appear before City Council and on January 4, 2019, Hastie and Bramson exchanged emails in anticipation of Hastie’s appearance before City Council on January 8th.

Jeffrey,

I am still waiting for input from one last Council Member, but here is what I have so far.  The questions are in no particular order. Some reflect actual desire for knowledge from Council Members, others are more an effort to better understand how to respond to questions from constituents.

You’ll be first on our agenda at 3:45pm on Tuesday in the Council Conference Room (the side room, not the main chamber.)  As I mentioned in our phone conversation, I will do my best to ensure that the overall tone of the conversation is positive and collegial.

Please let me know whether Magda will be joining you.

Thanks for doing this.

Noam

Hastie replied.

Noam,

I will speak to Magda about making herself available to attend.

Jeffrey Hastie

President, Board of Education

City School District of New Rochelle

914.576.4219

mailto:jhastie@nredlearn.org

Bramson sent the following questions in advance:

  • What is the process and timetable for filling key administrative positions that are currently vacant or held by interim appointees?
  • Does the District have plans to market the New Rochelle schools or in other ways to improve public perceptions of the schools?
  • Does the District intend to maintain or potentially expand its support for and participation in the My Brother’s Keeper program?
  • What is the status of the School District’s consideration of the recommendations made by the Task Force on Reducing Violence in the Lives of Students and Children?
  • What is the process and timetable for determining whether Student Resource Officers should be placed in the New Rochelle schools?
  • What is the nature of the working relationship and the division of responsibilities between the School Board and School Administration?
  • Assuming a new City Hall is constructed downtown, has the School District determined how it would utilize space in the current City Hall?
  • What is the open/closed campus policy for New Rochelle High School, how is it enforced, and what is the penalty for violations?

Between January 4, 2019 and January 7, 2019 Hastie informed the Mayor he would not attend a public meeting with City Council. There is no email record of Hastie bowing out.

The Mayor tried one last time.

On Jan 7, 2019, at 1:35 PM, Noam Bramson <nbramson@optonline.net> wrote:

Jeffrey,

Wanted to forward to you below the note I sent to the City Council earlier this morning. My intent in sharing this with you is not to appeal the decision regarding your attendance tomorrow — I’m completely fine with the smaller meeting alternative you described — but I thought maybe this note would be helpful in allaying concerns about the spirit of the City’s invitation.

Talk to you soon,

Noam

The Mayor forwarded a copy of his email to members of City Council.

From: Noam Bramson <nbramson@optonline.net>

Subject: School District Discussion at Council Meeting

Date: January 7, 2019 at 8:09:14 AM EST

To: Louis Trangucci <louistrangucci@aol.com>, Al Tarantino <tarcor211@aol.com>, “Rice, Jared” <jared@jaredrice.org>, Ivar Hyden <ivar@ivarhyden.org>, Barry Fertel <bfertel@gmail.com>, Liz Fried <efried20@gmail.com>

Cc: “Strome, Chuck” <cstrome@newrochelleny.com>

Council,

As you know, Jeffrey Hastie will be attending tomorrow’s City Council meeting at 3:45pm. (He has asked Magda Parvey to attend, as well, but doesn’t know yet whether her schedule will permit her to join us.) Two things:

1) I strongly suggest that we all make an effort to keep the tone of this conversation positive, supportive, and collegial. That doesn’t mean we should refrain from discussing difficult subjects, only that we should do so in a non-confrontational and non-accusatory fashion. The School District is coming to us as a courtesy, and if our discussion devolves into a show trial, it will be bad for both institutions. I suspect you all agree, but if anyone feels otherwise, please let me know, so that we can talk it out.

2) Following below is a list of questions I produced, based on the topics all of you suggested. I have shared these questions with Jeffrey Hastie, so that he will be prepared for our conversation. How should we handle the questioning? I see two options: (a) I can ask each of the questions on behalf of the Council, and then Council Members can chime in as the ensuing conversation unfolds; or (b) we can divide up the questions, so that each of us asks one or two of them. The first option is probably easier logistically, but I am happy to do the second, if that’s what you all prefer. Can you please write back to let me know your preference? And if your preference is option B, then please let me know which question(s) you would like to ask.

Thanks,

Noam

Hastie proposed two alternatives to he and Parvey appearing before City Council.

On Jan 7, 2019, at 10:03 PM, Jeffrey Hastie <jhastie@nredlearn.org> wrote:

Noam,

Was in City Hall all day (interviewing law firms and NRHS house principals).

I appreciate the below. Like I said this morning, really think the spirit of the invitation was a collaborative one. Another idea thrown out today was a joint City/School District Town Hall. Our Town Halls have been very well received. I think that approach will highlight to the community how the district and the city are forging a partnership of working together for the benefit of all. What do you think?

Jeffrey Hastie

President, Board of Education

City School District of New Rochelle

914.576.4219

jhastie@nredlearn.org

Bramson did not respond enthusiastically to the idea of a joint town hall meeting.

From: Noam Bramson <nbramson@optonline.net>

Subject: Re: School District Discussion at Council Meeting

Date: January 8, 2019 at 7:56:53 AM EST

To: Jeffrey Hastie <jhastie@nredlearn.org>

I am certainly open to it in concept, but would want to think through with you the precise format, agenda, etc. to be sure it made sense. Might be one of those things that sounds better in theory than in practice. Why don’t we add this to the list of things to be discussed in our smaller meeting with Chuck and Magda.

Noam

No further email discussion took place.

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