The Interreligious Council of New Rochelle Issues Statement on Controversial Superintendent

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The Interreligious Council of New Rochelle issued a statement dated November 21st describing the august organizations’ disappointment with the hiring of Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo by the New Rochelle Board of Education.

To the Board of Education of the City School District of New Rochelle,

Over the course of the past few years, the City of New Rochelle, and its School District have been through a tumultuous time. We needn’t recount those events here. As with any organization, the School District’s track record on how these matters were handled produced a mixed set of results. In hindsight, surely, the District could have handled certain aspects differently than they had been.

One outcome of all of this was the choice to hire a new Superintendent of Schools. As the Interreligious Council made clear over the summer to your Board, the process by which this choice was made was a flawed one. More importantly, the choice of the new Superintendent, Dr. Feijoo, was one which this body did not support. Her selection, considering all that has transpired here in New Rochelle, was the epitome of being tone deaf to our community’s needs. The CSDNR deserved a leader who could begin on her first day with a resume filled with academic rigor, administrative strengths, as well as an unquestioned reputation – most especially as regards diversity. That is not the case with Dr. Feijoo.

The Interreligious Council of New Rochelle is the only organization in this city that approximates the diversity of our School District. We represent peoples of every faith, color, ethnicity and background and we are gravely concerned about the impact Dr. Feijoo will have on our District. We are, therefore, similarly concerned about the future of the District, preserving its diversity and cultivating it as a strength for its future. This choice pains the members of this Council, this community and, most importantly, the children in this District who feel that this choice disregards all they have been through in recent years.

This Council wants you to know that while we could not compel you to change your mind and rescind your choice, as would have been the prudent, thoughtful and caring thing to do, we will be watching! In the past, this Council has been called upon in myriad ways to support this District. We consider ourselves as being newly deputized to keep watch over Dr. Feijoo’s performance and to call to light any violation of the values set forth by the District and our own mission statement. The District should be aware that we will be closely monitoring curricular changes, staff hires and dismissals, and policy changes. Any deviation from what we feel to be the best practices will result in renewed calls for Dr. Feijoo’s dismissal.

As has always been the case, the IRC is here to help the District fulfill its mandate. We ask that you call upon us to help shape the future of the District. We look forward to having an opportunity to hear from this Board and the Superintendent, as we have done in the past – and, more urgently, that you come to hear from us, that both you and Dr. Feijoo will be clear on our expectations for our children’s futures.

Respectfully disappointed,

The Interreligious Council of New Rochelle

Executive Committee:

Rabbi Scott B. Weiner, President

Temple Israel of New Rochelle

Minister Mark McLean, Vice President

Family Christian Center

Caroline Coppola, Recording Secretary

Iona College

Kate Maria, Corresponding Secretary

Holy Family Church

Pastor Tom Buchanan, Treasurer

Presbyterian Church of New Rochelle

George Morris, Immediate Past-president

Relig Catholic Youth Community

Father Robert Gahler, Past-president

Trinity St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Carl Procario-Foley, Ph.D., past-President

Iona College

At-large Board Members:

Nazaf Jamsheed, Islamic Center of New Rochelle

Barri Stallworth, Shiloh Baptist Church

Marjorie Seidenfeld, Beth El Synagogue Center

Cathy Clarke, Holy Family Church

Kate Maria, Holy Family Church

Deb Wood, Empty Hand Zen Center

Elaine Weiss, Temple Israel of New Rochelle

Frank Orlando, Blessed Sacrament Church

Sister Pat Schifini, The Ursuline School

Pastor Greg Baldeo, Seventh Day Adventist Church of New Rochelle

Maria Scaros, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Fred Moudvaran, Baha’ii of New Rochelle

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