UPDATE 3/21 7:15 PM: School Board tables motion to hire Special Counsel.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — In an extraordinary move, the New Rochelle Board of Education has named a Special Counsel in the wake of yet another major scandal, this one involving lost instructional hours at the District’s two middle schools.
The law firm of Douglas A. Spencer, PLLC has been hired to “investigate a certain personnel matter with regard to the 2018-19 school calendar,” according to a board resolution on tonight’s agenda.
The board will hold a special meeting at New Rochelle High School to adopt a resolution formally approving the hiring of Douglas A. Spencer, PLLC.
The Special Counsel will report its findings to the New Rochelle Board of Education and Ingerman Smith, the District’s new law firm.
The hiring of a Special Counsel appears to be aimed at former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Osborne.
In a statement issued on March 5th announcing that the middle schools were about 100 hours short of the required 990 hours, Parvey blamed Osborne.
“The New York State Board of Regents adopted new requirements for minimum instructional hours in public schools that went into effect at the start of this school year,” said Parvey. “The City School District of New Rochelle’s previous administration did not implement appropriate schedule changes in anticipation of those new requirements.”
Board President Jeffrey Hastie briefly addressed the issue at that night’s board meeting.
“The Board here unanimously was really upset by the fact that this impact this is going to have on us and we’ll make sure that for next year this is not going to happen again,” said Hastie
Neither Parvey nor Hastie would address the impact on state aid which is typically reduced by 1/180th per day lost.
WCBS-TV reporter Tony Aiello reported that he spoke with New York State Education Department who told him New Rochelle is the only District in New York State who made this mistake.
The New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees (F.U.S.E.) issued a statement Monday that they were disputing findings by lawyers at Ingerman Smith, the firm that replaced Jeff Kehl and Bond, Schoeneck & King.
“Recently, the newly hired law firm for the School District informed district administrators and the Board of Education that, based on their analysis of the Commissioner’s Regulations, the “instructional time” for grades 7 and 8 at both of our middle schools fails to meet the newly adopted minimum requirements of 990 hours per year.,” said F.U.S.E. Martin Daly.
“The union, after conducting its own assessment of the facts at hand and the clear language of the regulations, firmly disagrees with the conclusions offered by district’s counsel,” said Daly.
Union leaders and their lawyers met with school officials and their lawyers later that day.
In going after Osborne while ignoring Jeff Kehl and the two remaining cabinet members, the School Board appears to be on a witch hunt. Superintendents, especially in a District the size of New Rochelle have nothing to do with creating a school calendar.
Parvey was the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction last summer.
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joe Williams prepares the prepares the school calendar which is reviewed by Bond, Schoeneck & King, the District’s former law firm, led by Jeff Kehl.
The New York State Education Department conveys information such as new requirements on instructional hours in multiple ways: a Commissioner’s letter to the Superintendent; meetings involving the local BOCES region and the Assistant Superintendents of Curriculum for the Districts in that region; meetings involving the local BOCES region and the school principals for the schools in that region. That would mean Osborne, Parvey, ALMS Principal John Barnes and IEYMS Principal Anthony Bongo, recently promoted to Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services, were all notified.