Question 6 of 20 for 2020 NRBOE Candidates: Keep or Fire Dr. Feijóo?

Written By: Robert Cox
  1. Do you support retaining or removing Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo?

Adina Berrios Brooks: The Board of Education did not follow its own bylaws, including 8260, which require that a Citizens Advisory Committee be established by the Board of Education whenever the Board is engaged in a superintendency search. I would not have supported her hire, but as an elected board member I would see it as my duty to work with her to bring about the reform that I advocate for in my platform, with the consistent input from all corners of New Rochelle. Her failure following that effort would become my failure, and our collective failure.

Katie Castellano Minaya: Dr. Feijóo is our current superintendent and she has worked extremely hard to help our school district since she started in November. The reason I am running is that I want to assist anyone in the Superintendent or other school district administration level, to help our district live up to its full potential as a district wherein ALL children can truly have the opportunity to succeed. I have worked closely with the BOE, Superintendent, and assistant superintendents over the past years even prior to Dr. Feijóo, even if I haven’t always agreed with all of their decisions. It behooves the community to work in collaboration on behalf of our students. For example, in order to promote increased community engagement, I shared with the BOE the idea of a family coordinator, similar to the model at my public school, so that families could have a key person from the community to support them with their onboarding, needs, and connection to the school. I was gratified that this idea was supported, even if it had to be removed from the budget due to the pandemic. I have hope, and a solutions-orientation that is much needed in our school district. A BOE member must represent the community, serving as an advocate for the children and families in our district.

Barbara D’Alois: Since the BOE already hired her to a 4 year contract I believe that as a board member it would be my responsibility to find a way to make this relationship work. The discussion is not whether we agree with her decisions or methods, but rather, what is the alternative. To dismiss a superintendent arbitrarily would most certainly turn to litigation that would mean possible payouts of tens of millions of dollars. I’m not comfortable dropping something like that in the taxpayer’s laps. Moving forward, it is in our best interest to strive for a BOE that is as transparent as possible. This includes working together to build public understanding, support and participation.

Christopher Daniello:Did not answer.

Stephen A. DiDonato: Dr. Feijoo came in with a lot of controversy and a lot of promise. She has not been the stabilizing force that many of us hoped she would be. In a perfect world, she would be gone.

Sharon D. Footes: No comment.

Matthew T. Hirschman: Dr. Feijoo has over there years left on her contact and it is not likely that she will willingly step down. On the other hand, I am not in favor of buying her out and throwing good money away. This is where it complicates things. In a ideal world I would like to see more competent leadership.

Michael Leone: That train (Dr. Feijoo’s employment status) has left the station. Maybe the process by which Dr. Feijoo was hired was flawed. BOE Candidate Katie Castellano Minaya is challenging the process in court and the court will make ultimately decide whether the breach of BOE hiring policy was material and we have to replay the hiring. In the mean time, the District has a contract with Dr. Feijoo. I think the Dr. Feijoo has tried very hard in some hard and trying times. The board would be completely and irrevocably financially irresponsible to terminate yet another Superintendent’s contract and pay 5 years’ salary to but it out. Unless a court rules otherwise, I think that New Rochelle does best to put the past behind it and move forward.

Timothy McKnight: If I were on the Board when Dr. Feijóo was up for consideration I would have voted no on her hiring. However, she is our Superintendent now and I will do everything in my power to support her and the Board to make sure we are striving for educational excellence. I would like to sit down with her and give an in-­depth lesson on who we are as a community and how she can better connect with the community. We are a unique city and this aspect of New Rochelle demands a unique style of leadership, one that cannot emulate practices that were used in New York City.

Mario A. Scarano: I support removing Dr Feijoo, she never should have been hired in the first place.

Julia Taylor: I support working with the current superintendent and holding her accountable. As a taxpayer, I want to see this contract to fruition, unlike the three contracts we’ve paid off in the past two years.

Donald Vega: Dr. Feijóo has had a rough year. While I can’t say she’s done a good job, I can’t support removing a superintendent right now. We need a plan of action for students right now. We can’t start a new search for a new superintendent during this crisis. Plus, I believe a removal would mean a buyout of the contract which is then still spending the money.

Better to say we are all in this together and demand a plan of action for Health (including mental), Distance Learning (not the band-aid we have now), Security (to keep our kids safe, not police our kids), Facilities (nearby colleges, businesses, etc. who can provide space for social distancing), Technology (secure platforms, protocol, partnerships, licenses, donations, etc.), Automation (finding efficiencies to save dollars & speed processes, re-purposing jobs), Development (fundraising) and Community (partnerships, space sharing, cultural experience and fun).

Keep in mind any issues in our school system did not start with Dr. Feijóo. We must address these challenges and bring our students back to some semblance of normal schooling post-covid, first. We should offer support to one another.

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