NEW ROCHELLE, NY — More than a few heads were turned with the surprise announcement that Dr. Anthony Bongo was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services by the New Rochelle Board of Education on Tuesday.
Social media lit up with exclamations of rabid support and startled dismay for the long time Isaac E. Young Principal.
Brenda DeGiacomo wrote “Omg I’m so upset there taking him out of IEY.” Jessica Guisto-gordon posted “You gotta be kidding me. This has to be fake news. This cannot be true. It would be a further sign of the corruption that exists in the new rochelle school district.” Shirley Phillips enigmatically offered only “Wtf!”
Likely no one was more dismayed than Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey, if the word around the BOE water cooler is true. We are hearing that after Anthony Bongo applied for the position of Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services he was called into a meeting with Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joe Williams and Parvey and told in no uncertain terms that he was not getting the job. That he got the job anyway suggests the distinct possibility if not high likelihood that Parvey will not be made permanent as Superintendent and may be on her way out.
Sources deep inside City Hall tell Talk of the Sound that after being flatly — and some say insultingly — told he was out, Bongo subsequently met with BOE President Jeffrey Hastie and Veep Amy Moselhi. We hear he was told they considered him the best candidate by far. The pair overruled Parvey and offered Bongo the position.
That will certainly make for awkward cabinet meetings.
Hastie and Moselhi have reportedly cooled markedly on Parvey who many have assumed was a lock for the top spot after Osborne was shown the door in 2018. But she has had a series of notable missteps ever since including a weak response to the discovery of swastikas at New Rochelle High School, first reported by Talk of the Sound. Her diffident public statement offended many including board members, leaders in the Jewish community and Mayor Noam Bramson who issued his own strongly-worded statement to Talk of the Sound. Amy Moselhi publicly ripped Parvey to her face while seated next to her at a Board meeting, calling her response insufficient. Parvey was repeatedly criticized at a board meeting for her handling of a review of the World Language Program by members of her own committee. As Chief Academic Officer, Parvey was directly responsible for the disastrous management of the Apex Credit Recovery program which resulted in a grade-fixing scandal that raised significant doubts about the integrity of high school diplomas in New Rochelle and tarnished the reputation of the high school. Many feel Parvey had wilted in her tryout as Super.
But you never know.
The past year has seen more than its share of twists and turns with board officers quitting in the middle of their term, assistant principals passed over then appointed as principals anyway after public outcry, principals who resign then rescind their resignation then take a $200,000 buyout, Superintendents not renewed then bought out for $300,000, a rotating series of hapless house principals, retreads thrown back into service in the business office, medical directors who keep their jobs after failing to call an ambulance for a grievously injured student, successful employees dismissed while incompetent fools are promoted and interim superintendents, interim assistant superintendents, interim treasurers, interim business managers, interim principals, interim vice principals, interim house principals, interim assistant principals, interim technology directors, interim transportation directors and too many more interims to bother listing here. So, while things do not look good for Parvey right now, anything is possible in New Rochelle these days and she may well end up in the top spot for good come the summer or led out in handcuffs by the fall.
The Parvey decline may have put the Board in a bind with its less-than-aggressive Superintendent Search which was predicated on the idea that the Board had their candidate in hand and any search was for show. After initially bidding out the search to national executive search firms, Hastie and Moselhi rejected every bid. Hastie then, for some reason, became enamored with the idea of hiring Northern Westchester BOCES to run the search, a service BOCES regions provide to their Districts for free. The only catch was that New Rochelle is in the Southern Westchester BOCES region so it was necessary to obtain the approval of the SWBOCES Superintendent to hire another BOCES region.
When SWBOCES Superintendent Dr. Harold Coles refused to grant Hastie that approval Hastie was cornered. Having rejected all of the bids from the national firms and unable to go outside the region, Hastie was left little choice but to hire Coles, a man with limited experience in running searches and an unimpressive track record with candidates.
Despite this, Moselhi said she was “optimistic” that the board would have many excellent candidates to choose from soon. Perhaps but why would any highly qualified candidate want to take a position that is more lion tamer and sideshow carnival barker than educational leader? It is hard too imagine why a top flight educator would be attracted to a district so decidedly unstable.