NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Jeffrey Hastie, currently under investigation by the New Rochelle School District for fraud pertaining to thousands of dollars in unexplained telecommunications expenses he charged to a District account while on vacation in Europe and Africa, is now actively involved in the anti-Feijóo movement, according to multiple sources.
The fraud investigation was launched in August 2019 based on reporting by Talk of the Sound.
This comes just five months after the former President of the New Rochelle Board of Education, foisted Dr. Laura Feijóo on the school board at the end of June following a disjointed, flawed Superintendent search led by Hastie.
Whether Hastie is engaged in a sincere effort to remove the woman he hired on his last day in office or just toying with Feijóo opponents remains unclear. Hastie has a history of deceptive engagement with school board critics.
The past 18 months, since Hastie and board member Amy Moselhi openly worked to defeat the 2018-2019 school budget, has been an unprecedented period of instability, most of it under Hastie’s tenure as a school board officer, first as Vice-President then President.
Many have likened the result to a dog chasing a car and the question, what does a dog do with a car once they catch it?
In the case of Hastie and Moselhi, starting with the ouster of Dr. Brian Osborne as Superintendent a month after the budget was defeated, the answer has been administrative chaos, a delayed budget process, infighting among staff and administrators and a steep decline in employee morale. A vast majority of senior administrative positions were vacant or filled with short-term and often questionable interim appointments.
Finding a replacement for Osborne proved to be a cascading series of failures that resulted in a last-minute selection of, by far, the most divisive figure ever hired to lead the City School District of New Rochelle. Whatever one thinks about Feijóo’s professional ability there is no getting around the fact that a key metric of measuring the success of a Superintendent, community relations, has been an unmitigated disaster.
Rather than select a professional search firm from among those responding to an RFP in the Fall of 2018, Hastie inexplicably sought to hire the Superintendent of Northern Westchester BOCES to run the search.
Ironically, in light of the controversy over Dr. Feijóo’s $90 million reverse-racism lawsuit against her former boss, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and employer, the New York City Department of Education, the professional search firms, led by almost entirely white men, were rejected by Hastie and Moselhi on the grounds that the firms did not understand the culture diversity of New Rochelle.￼￼
Informed that hiring a BOCES unit outside its own region without permission from its own region was prohibited, Hastie sought permission from the Superintendent of Southern Westchester BOCES to hire the Superintendent of Northern Westchester BOCES.
Superintendent of Southern Westchester BOCES Dr. Harold Coles denied Hastie’s request.
Six search firms and one out-of-region Superintendent later, Hastie settled on his sole remaining option, Dr. Coles.
Coles was a questionable choice given his admitted lack of experience running Superintendent searches and his limited experience running a School District. His only prior senior level experience was serving as Superintendent of Schools at the Greenburgh Abbott Union Free School District, special act school district in Irvington, New York with a student population of under 100 ungraded special education students and less than two dozen teachers and staff. When asked at a Town Hall to identify examples of successful Superintendent searches he had led, Coles did not identify any successful searches. Hastie, who was moderating the Town Hall cut off questioning Coles on this point.
There is also a question of a conflict of interest in hiring the Superintendent of Southern Westchester BOCES while the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services at Southern Westchester BOCES, James Gratto, Jr., was actively engaged with the District on the Apex grade inflation investigation as the NYSED Test Security Unit Integrity Officer for Westchester.
The Superintendent search under Coles was an unmitigated disaster.
In early June came word that Hastie had failed to hire the Board’s first choice. Then Plan B failed when the Board’s second choice declined to even negotiate a deal. Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey had previously taken herself out of consideration due to her dislike for micro-managing by Hastie and Moselhi, according to several sources who spoke with Parvey. Left with no options in mid-June, just two weeks before the end of Hastie’s tenure both on the Board and as Board President, Coles unexpectedly informed the Board he had applications from several additional candidates who had applied in February but which he had inexplicably never shown to the Board, on the dubious grounds they had taken themselves out of consideration because they did not like the interview process.
Desperate to leave a legacy, Hastie rushed Feijóo’s hiring. Board members interviewed her collectively once then joined her for a board dinner. The process was so rushed that Hastie failed to properly execute the Feijóo contract.
Talk of the Sound filed a Freedom of Information request on July 1, 2019 for the Feijóo contract, received the same day leading to the following email exchange:
From: Robert Cox
Date: Jul 3, 2019, 8:41 AM -0400
To: Dr Magda Parvey, Thom Ryan, Amy Moselhi, Paul Warhit
Subject: Feijóo contract
Not sure who to ask but the Feijóo contract I was sent has no dates next to the signatures.
Jeffrey Hastie was authorized by board to sign at 4 pm Friday; his term ended Sunday at midnight.
There is no indication that this is a valid execution of the contract.
Can someone speak to that issue? Otherwise it appears there may be no contract with Dr. Feijóo.
Publisher and Managing Editor
Talk of the Sound
Board President Moselhi replied later that afternoon.
From: Amy Moselhi
Date: Jul 3, 2019, 1:35 PM -0400
To: Robert Cox
Cc: Dr Magda Parvey, Thom Ryan, Paul Warhit
Subject: Re: Feijóo contract
It was signed before we voted on Friday. She signed it about 10 am Friday.
There is no evidence as to when the Feijóo contract was signed.
Moselhi, by then Board President, claims the contract was signed by Feijóo on June 27, 2019 then signed by Hastie before the Board authorized Hastie to sign the contract.
There is no indication that there was a valid execution of the Feijóo contract by Hastie and the explanation given by Moselhi affirms Hastie acted on the contract without first obtaining Board approval raising very real questions as the legality of the Feijóo contract.
As we were reporting out this story, Hastie responded on Twitter to Talk of the Sound reporting on his involvement with the anti-Feijóo movement, resulting in the following exchange:
HASTIE: “OMG! I’ve been found out. Will now have to dissolve the Sicilian wing of the movement.”
TALK OF THE SOUND: “You are welcome to state your position on Dr. Feijóo but I expect people find it odd you would take the lead in hiring her then actively work to remove her soon after. You and you alone signed her contract: $1.2 mm/4 years. Now, not even 6 months later, you want her out? Why?”
HASTIE: “You invite me to state my position then ask me a question as if you know my position. And you wonder why you’re not seen as a journalist. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to get credible sources since central admin clean up. Ciao. 🍷 🍝”
TALK OF THE SOUND: “I asked you a question about your involvement in the anti-Feijóo movement. I already know you are involved. I just do not understand why. You were the person most responsible for hiring her, you were defending that decision over the summer but by the fall you want her out. Why?
HASTIE: “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.” The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll. Say it one more time and I’m sure it will be true.
TALK OF THE SOUND: “I asked and no one I talked to about your recent tweets can understand you so if you believe yourself to be making a point it is lost on people including me; multiple sources are telling me you are involved with the anti-Feijóo movement. That is 100% true. The question is why?”
HASTIE: “Bingo! You’ve said it for the third time so it must be true. Thanks for letting me know I’m a part of a movement. I’ve been looking for a new cause since leaving the board. Hope I get a membership card.”
TALK OF THE SOUND: “Are you actually denying that you are involved in the anti-Feijóo movement. If so, say so, and I will go back to my sources and tell them you have denied what they told me and let them respond. Regardless, it remains true that I have sources telling me that you are involved.”
We afforded Hastie the opportunity to give a straight answer to our question which he has failed to do. We have four disparate sources each saying the same thing – he is now working with the anti-Feijóo movement. He has not replied with an explanation for why he is now aligned with groups opposed to Feijóo.