NEW ROCHELLE, NY — At a New Rochelle Board of Education Town Hall on September 20, 2018, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joseph Williams discussed at length new Commissioner’s Regulations for Instructional Hours while sitting on a panel with senior administration officials and school board members. Notably absent was then-Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Osborne.
Seated at the left end of the panel, Williams was joined by, from left to right, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Amy Goodman, Interim New Rochelle High School Principal Joseph Starvaggi, then-Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Magda Parvey (promoted weeks later to Interim Superintendent), and Board Members Christopher Daniello, Julia Muggia-Ochs, Paul Warhit, Rachel Relkin, Board Vice President Amy Moselhi, and Board President Jeffrey Hastie.
As the panel members listened to a question by perennial school board candidate Vince Malfetano about the number of full days of school of classroom attendance at New Rochelle High School, Hastie asked Williams to respond. Warhit and Daniello each offered Williams a microphone. Williams took a microphone from Daniello.
Williams, appearing to read from notes in his lap, explained the new Commissioner Regulations for instructional hours.
“It changed this year, I believe it is 990 hours for students throughout the course of the school year,” said Williams. “What we are in the process of doing as I speak actually is doing a calendar analysis through the use of our District’s counsel that should be done in the next couple of week’s time and that will give us a full account of where we stand in terms of the Commissioner’s Regulations.”
The video undermines claims by Parvey and Hastie that no one but Osborne was aware of the new regulations for instructional hours and that the failure to implement necessary changes was Osborne’s failure alone.
On March 5th, Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey issued a statement blaming Osborne for the failure to provide required instructional time to seventh and eighth graders at Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School under the new Commissioner’s Regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2018, and the resulting threat of State Aid Cuts.
“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.”
As Talk of the Sound reported at the time, the person who prepares the school calendar is Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joe Williams with the assistance of Bond, Schoeneck & King, the District’s former law firm, led by Jeff Kehl. Kehl and Williams coordinated with the F.U.S.E. union on which days pedagogical staff are required to work each year. Parvey was in charge of curriculum and instruction.
Tony Aiello of WCBS-TV interviewed Parvey and Hastie later that day.
“No one in the building had it in their portfolio to make sure it didn’t happen,” said Parvey. “Changes came and were adopted in July, and there was no conversation about the changes at that time,”
“It’s a major failure on our part,” said Hastie. “Something we should have known, should have implemented up front, but we didn’t.”
Except Hastie, Moselhi, Daniello, Relkin, Warhit, Muggia-Ochs and Parvey did know – as far back as September, as the video demonstrates.
One well-placed source told Talk of the Sound recently that ALMS Principal John Barnes and IEYMS Principal Anthony Bongo repeatedly raised concerns about the deficit in instructional hours based on the new regulations.
Two days ago, the District named Douglas A. Spencer as Special Counsel to “investigate a certain personnel matter with regard to the 2018-19 school calendar” in a board resolution which was tabled hours after Talk of the Sound published a detailed legislative history going back two years detailing hearings, questionnaires, surveys, meetings, letters and an advisory committee comprised of every stakeholder in the New York State education system.
Tony Aiello reported on March 5th that he spoke with a New York State Education Department spokesperson who told him that 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 this past Monday saying they were disputing findings by lawyers at Ingerman Smith, the firm that replaced Jeff Kehl and Bond, Schoeneck & King although union officials admitted privately they do not expect the findings by Ingerman Smith to be overturned.
In going after Osborne while ignoring Jeff Kehl and the two remaining cabinet members, the School Board appears to be on a witch hunt intended to direct attention away from the failures of their lawyers, Williams and Parvey and, most importantly, themselves.