New Rochelle Board of Education Hires New Permanent Superintendent of Schools

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The New Rochelle Board of Education held a highly unusual special meeting on a Friday afternoon, the last day of the school year, end of the District’s fiscal year and the last business day of Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie’s tenure both as President and board member, to appoint Dr. Laura Feijóo as the new New Rochelle School Superintendent, effective November 1st.

Feijóo currently serves as Senior Superintendent for the New York City Department of Education. Her responsibilities include “supporting the Chancellor’s vision for schools across all divisions in policy and labor management. In 2017-18, she served as President of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. She has a B.A. in Education, Master’s Degree in Special Education and Specialists Diploma in Educational Leadership from New York University.-

After the board adopted a resolution approving her as Superintendent, effective on November 1st, Feijóo took to the podium.

I am so excited to be here today. I can’t tell you. The opportunity to join the family that speaks for itself. Your reputation in New Rochelle is out there. And all of the wonderful things you have done in the arts and in education and in sports and your buildings and your history is what attracted me to come here.

I am so excited to join you and get to know you. I know you know so much more than I do and I look forward to meeting with you and getting guidance from you about what you want for your children. We’re all here. I have with me my family: Gabriella, Juliana, and my husband Victor and what I want for them is what I know you want for your children, your neighbors children the community.

And I hope to really be a part of this and stay for the 10 – 20 years they asked me to stay so that we can grow and develop and heal.

I know you’ve been through some challenging times and I want to be the person who can really help bring collaboration, conversation and voice to everybody’s sentiments so we are all moving in the same direction as one team with one voice.

And so I am honored. I thank the board, Jeffrey, Amy. I thank all of you for everything you’ve done to just bring me into the fold and I’m so excited to get started and I will be working a little bit to meet with you before November 1. And I think you for all coming here today to be a part of this.

Several quotes were included in a press release distributed prior to the board meeting:

“We, as a board, are extremely excited to welcome Dr. Feijóo to the helm,” said Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie. “Dr. Feijóo brings a wealth of experience and is an expert in the areas of curriculum, instruction, leadership and community-building at all levels”.

“I’m honored that the Board of Education has selected me to serve as Superintendent of a school district with such a long history of excellence.” Dr. Feijóo said. “I plan to work tirelessly together with the Board, administrators and staff to ensure that each and every student has the opportunities and supports needed to be successful, not only as students, but as future citizens.”

“Dr. Feijóo’s focus on data-driven instruction, accountability, and high standards comes at a critical time to ensure our District moves forward in the right strategic direction,” said Hastie. “She is well prepared to tackle the challenges of this role and provide strong, stable leadership for our District well into the future.”

Following the resignation of Dr. Brian Osborne in 2018, the District appointed Dr. Magda Parvey as Interim Superintendent. Dr. Parvey has served as the acting head of administration for the City School District of New Rochelle since that time.

The board adopted a resolution to create the position of Human Resources Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2019 and to fill that position with Peter C. Scordo as the Human Resources Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools, effective July 1, 2019. Scordo is the recently retired Superintendent of the Elwood School District where he served in the capacity since 2009.

The board also adopted a resolution retaining Dr. Parvey as Interim Superintendent until October 31st, 2019. The resolution “as read” differed with the initial written resolution; Hastie added that Parvey would be leaving employment of the District on October 31st “for personal reasons”. The written resolution has since been updated to read “Dr. Parvey’s continuation as the Interim Superintendent of Schools through October 31, 2019, as well as her resignation for personal reasons effective said date.”

Something happened that caused a delay in the start of the meeting past 3 p.m. We do not know what but Dr. Parvey entered the board conference room, sat on the dais with several board members, then got up and left the dais. She walked directly over to this reported, exchanged pleasantries, then walked out of the room. A moment later, outgoing Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business Tom Ryan took to the dais to announce that Dr. Parvey had been “called away” and that he would be running the meeting.

Called away by who? The schools are closed, every board member and administrator was on hand for the meeting.

No meaningful explanation was offered.

The District has refused repeated requests to disclose Dr. Feijóo’s salary. No explanation given as to why this use of taxpayer money is being treated as a state secret.

Meanwhile, a significant backlash is developing against Fiejóo among leaders in the minority community. Various community leaders were invited to a “meet and greet” with Dr. Feijóo just prior to the board meeting. Among them were NAACP New Rochelle Branch President Mark McLean (also Vice President of the Inter-Religious Council), David Peters of NewROAR, Matt Costa of the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence, Rabbi Scott Weiner of Temple Israel and the Inter-Religious Council and others. None were told about the lawsuit, some feel duped and are now vowing to oppose Feijóo.

After the board meeting, Dr. Feijóo took questions from the media.

WE WILL UPDATE THIS SECTION WITH THOSE QUESTIONS LATER BUT THE MOST PRESSING QUESTION WAS ABOUT THE LAWSUIT SO WE HAVE TYPED THAT UP.

Fiejóo is at the center of a $90 million lawsuit in which she claims she was demoted by New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s in the lawsuit claims is a crusade against “toxic” whiteness at the city Department of Education.

Susan Edelman and Aaron Feis, writing in the New York Post, said:

The third plaintiff, Laura Feijoo, claims that she was among the earliest casualties of Carranza’s overhaul.

When Carranza was appointing his first deputy chancellor, he tapped Cheryl Watson-Harris, who is black, over Feijoo, who is white and was Watson-Harris’ boss, without so much as interviewing Feijoo.

While Feijoo supervised all 46 other DOE superintendents, Watson-Harris didn’t even have the necessary license to be first deputy chancellor — so Carranza instituted a “transition period” so she could obtain it, the filing says.

Feijoo was not only leapfrogged by Watson-Harris but soon saw her underling replace her with Donald Conyers, who is black, and promote nine employees into a new role, “executive superintendent.”

Some of the nine had no prior superintendent experience. None was a white woman. All were now above Feijoo.

Asked about the lawsuit by Talk of the Sound, Fiejóo said “Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in and what’s right. I certainly took the opportunity to stand up for myself and my colleagues.”

“I have had a great career in the Chancellor’s Office and New York City Department of Education,” she added.

“Specific to the litigation, I cannot comment but sometimes you have to do things you feel that are right,” said Feijóo.

RELATED:

Shakeup in schools leadership is latest sign that Carranza is charting his own course

An Open Letter to Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo

Bombshell suit claims Carranza’s ‘toxic’ whiteness purge cost DOE execs their jobs

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