New Rochelle School Board Flummoxed by Lack of Detail in Superintendent Re-Entry Plan

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Members of the New Rochelle Board of Education appeared frustrated by Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo’s failure to provide Board Members, teachers, parents and residents with a single, coherent, comprehensive, written re-entry plan.

Talk of the Sound edited together clips to remove digressions and qualifying remarks to present an abridged version of the board discussion on the re-entry plan, or lack thereof.

“There is something more than a PowerPoint presentation,” said Board Member Todd Kern. “The community needs that and I understand why.”

Expressing frustration, Kern repeatedly pressed Feijóo on providing the Board — and the school community — a single, detailed, written re-entry plan.

“I’m interested in the idea of a written plan…the next level of detail that is behind a PowerPoint is that something we should expect and, if so, when…particular to our re-entry in the Fall. There is a lot of complexity and so far all we have seen is the PowerPoint.”

“I’ve asked the same question every time…when are we going to see the level of detail that helps substantiate some of these ideas.”

Feijóo professed not to understand the question.

Kern rejected Feijóo’s response.

“To me, that is an unsatisfactory response,” said Kern, expressing his view that each group of bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation should be supported by two to three pages of details.

“There is no way we are capturing with specificity what are game plan is,” he added.

Dr. Alex Marrero attempted — and failed — to address concerns raised by Kern and other board members about creating a single planning document out of the various silos of information: City School District of New Rochelle Re-Entry Plan July 2020, 2020-2021 RE-ENTRY FAQ, Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo’s presentation at a July 29, 2020 Town Hall and PPT, the Reentry Presentations to parents and guardians to discuss the opening of the 2020-2021 school year given on August 18, 2020 and August 20, 2020, and Dr. Feijóo’s letter to the community announcing the decision to open the school year with all-virtual distance learning program at least through September and Dr. Feijóo’s letter of August 22 offering details of the opening of school, among others.

“Mr. Kern, I believe you are referring to a larger plan that speaks to what each of these presentations both tonight and also the parent meetings and where it lives. I believe the initial plan was the DLRP, the Distance Learning Re-Entry Plan which is extensive in terms of the volume, right? But what we have incorporated is not only the FAQs, as President Relkin, mentioned but whatever we add or annex something it becomes part of the document. As late as last Friday, Mr. Valenti added three components, one speaking to the equity offerings and the intention in the secondary schools so that was a new section and two other sections that excapes me at the moment but also feedback that we received because the plan was evaluated by a reputable national organization and we have incorporated all the findings that were missing from that plan and if I can say we’ve had quite a bit of communication, Distance Learning 2.0, that guide in itself, this Distance Learning Re-entry Plan and other pieces of documents that are (inaudible) and exist in our local community but aren’t part of the Distance Learning Re-entry Plan, we have incorporated some of those pieces so we can have a true guide that encompasses all but we’re piece by piece creating it as robust as it needs to be so I think that is what you’re…you’ve been asking for and it’s exactly where we want it to be because we are getting information but as soon as we get something and we implement it, as soon as it’s institutionalized, it becomes part of the document.”

It is not true that the various documents cited by Marrero have been “added” or “annexed” or “incorporated” into a plan to be a “true guide” that “encompasses all” and is “robust as it needs to be”. There is no single Re-Entry Plan document and the original document from July is no longer current and, in many ways, obsolete.

Marrero did not provide detail on what “reputable national organization” evaluated the original plan or explain what their findings were or what was missing and added or missing but not added and why or when the findings were delivered and when they were added to a document and, if so, which document.

Adina Barrios-Brooks expressed confusion at Dr. Marrero’s answer, asking if what Marrero is describing is on the District website. She said she checks the website daily and was unaware of changes to the document on Friday.

Kern seconded Barrios-Brooks’s confusion.

Amy Moselhi interjected to say the idea of using “hubs” may not have been developed at the time the plan was last updated which seems unlikely.

Marrero said the document was last updated on Friday. The board meeting occurred the following business day. Apparently Moselhi was suggesting the “hubs idea” was developed over the weekend.

Feijóo concluded the discussion by proposing that the administration would organize the disparate elements of the plan including “the long document”, “the PowerPoints”, and “the FAQs”.

“One of the reasons we continue to add to the document was because it was in different places depending on how information rolled out so we will think about how to do that in a way that’s easier for some of the hot topics that have come up,” she said.

“We will put together something that at least gives more detail on some of these areas so that it’s not so hard to find,” said Feijóo.

Superintendent Feijóo did not say when the “something” would be completed.

Several board members appeared to agree that the administration needed to take steps to improve document management and better communicate changes to board members.


New Rochelle Board of Education Meeting August 24, 2020 (truncated)