NEW ROCHELLE, NY — For the fifth time in six years, the City School District of New Rochelle has introduced a new Superintendent.
The New Rochelle Board of Education announced the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo in a brief statement by Board President Rachel Relkin at tonight’s school board meeting.
“Tonight the Board of Education accepted the resignation of Dr. Laura Feijoo as our Superintendent of Schools,” said Relkin. “The District and Dr. Feijóo have executed a separation agreement, pursuant to which her resignation is effective today, October 6, 2020.”
Talk of the Sound has filed a Freedom of Information request with the District to obtain a copy of the agreement and will publish the terms including any buyout of the remaining three years on her contract.
“The Board of Education wishes to thank Dr. Feijóo for her dedication to the District during a challenging school year and her commitment to the students, staff and community during her tenure with the District. Because this is a confidential personnel matter, the Board of Education, the District and Dr. Feijóo will have no further comments regarding this matter.”
Acting Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero will become Interim Superintendent and Peter Scordo will remain in the recently created position of Deputy Superintendent.
The resignation of the embattled Superintendent comes less than a year into her four year contract which began on November 1, 2019.
Dr. Feijóo courted controversy from the day she arrived in New Rochelle.
She was announced as the new Superintendent by then-Board President Jeffrey Hastie on June 28, 2019 after a failed months-long superintendent search left the board without a candidate days before the start of the 2019-20 school year. Feijóo was a hastily arranged last-minute selection.
Anger in the community developed quickly after the board voted to hire the long-time New York City educator, as word spread that Dr. Feijóo, who is White, was a plaintiff in a $90 million reverse-discrimination lawsuit against New York Schools School Chancellor Richard Carranza. Feijóo and two former colleagues claimed they were demoted in favor of less-qualified minority educators.
A complaint was filed with the Commissioner of the New York State Education Department by an ad hoc group calling itself The Collective. A lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court. Both complaints made the same argument.
“The Board of Education failed to establish the mandated citizens advisory committee, and thus its appointment of Dr. Laura Feijoo as superintendent was unlawful, arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion (and) the Board of Education also violated its policies concerning the notice and time that was required regarding the ‘special meeting’ that arbitrarily convened to appoint Dr. Feijoo as superintendent.”
The appeal to the SED Commissioner was denied a year ago:
The appeal must be dismissed given the pendency of a related civil action. On October 26, 2019, petitioner commenced an action in Supreme Court, Westchester County raising substantially similar claims, and seeking substantially similar relief, as in the instant appeal (Minaya v. City School District of New Rochelle., et. al., Index. No. 67873/2019 [filed Oct. 26, 2019]). Specifically, in the civil action, petitioner seeks a judgment:
(1) vacating … the appointment of Dr. Laura Feijoo as superintendent; (2) vacating the employment contract executed between the Board of Education and Dr. Laura Feijoo; (3) compelling the Board of Education to convene the mandated citizens advisory committee under Board Policy 8260; and (4) compelling the Board of Education to follow its own policies and procedures in the appointment of a new superintendent ….
This civil action is currently pending.
“The resignation of the former Superintendent of New Rochelle schools, Dr. Laura Feijóo, brings to a conclusion our legal challenge to her appointment,” said attorney Richard St. Paul who represented the Collective. “It is our hope that the School Board will follow its policy to ensure the selection of a new superintendent worthy of serving the diverse n needs of our city of new Rochelle.”
NAACP New Rochelle Branch President Minister Mark McLean expressed hope that the experience of Feijóo superintendency might be a learning opportunity to the school board.
“From the very beginning a large portion of our community knew that Dr Feijóo was not equipped to lead our diverse district but our voices were completely ignored,” said McLean. “Now that this divisive era has come to an end, I hope that our leaders have learned a valuable lesson of how important it is to listen to the community that they serve.”
“I pray that New Rochelle can come together to heal our district for the sake of our children and their parents,” he added.
In November, Feijóo incurred additional wrath of the school community after she suspended longtime head football coach Louis DiRienzo during the playoffs as the team made a successful run at the New York State High School AA Football Championship. DiRienzo agreed to a separation agreement soon after the Championship game.
Feijóo developed a reputation for misleading the school board and the public including her mishandling the District’s response to the coronavirus, a disastrous school board election, her role in what appears to have been a corrupt real estate deal, filing a false instrument with the State in lying about records sought under a Freedom of Information request and much more.
“A flawed hiring process resulted in a flawed hire who was never going to understand New Rochelle’s goals and aspirations for our children,” said Westchester County Legislator Damon Maher. “Then her mishandling of the school election and of a plan for to begin the new school year were each sufficient reasons to terminate her.”
The beginning of the end for Feijóo came when two new board members, members of the coalition opposing Feijóo in court, were elected in June 2020. When they were sworn in they formed a new majority block opposed to Feijóo. Their first action was to remove Board President Amy Moselhi, Feijóo’s ally, and her Vice President Paul Warhit as board officers on July 7th.
Meeting Oct 06, 2020 – Board of Education Regular Meeting
– 6:00 PM Category New Business – Personnel Resolutions Subject APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 21-161: APPROVING A CERTAIN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT DATED OCTOBER 6, 2020 BETWEEN THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND DR. LAURA FEIJOO, AUTHORIZING THE BOARD PRESIDENT TO EXECUTE SAID AGREEMENT AND ACCEPTING HER RESIGNATION AS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS BASED UPON CERTAIN IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES EFFECTIVE CLOSE OF BUSINESS OCTOBER 6, 2020 Type Action, Procedural
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the City School District of New Rochelle hereby approves a certain Settlement Agreement between the Board and Dr. Laura Feijoo and further authorizes the Board President to execute said Agreement on behalf of the Board; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education herewith accepts Dr. Feijoo’s resignation from the position of Superintendent of Schools based upon certain irreconcilable differences effective the close of business on October 6, 2020; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution take effect immediately.
Meeting Oct 06, 2020 – Board of Education Regular Meeting – 6:00 PM Category New Business – Personnel Resolutions Subject APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 21-162: APPOINTING DR. ALEX MARRERO AS INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR Type Action, Procedural
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the City School District of New Rochelle hereby appoints Alex Marrero, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Interim Superintendent of Schools during the 2020/21 school year, effective October 7, 2020;
And, be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.
Agenda Item Details
Meeting Oct 06, 2020 – Board of Education Regular Meeting – 6:00 PM Category New Business
– Personnel Resolutions Subject APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 21-163: AUTHORIZING THE CONTINUATION OF THE TEMPORARY POSITION OF DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS DURING THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR Type Action, Procedural
RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the City School District of New Rochelle hereby authorizes the continuation of the temporary position of Deputy Superintendent of Schools during the 2020/21 school year, effective on October 5, 2020; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the Board hereby authorizes the continuation of the appointment of Peter C. Scordo to serve as Deputy Superintendent during the 2020/21 school year, effective on October 5, 2020;
And, be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution take effect immediately.
The Board is also pleased to announce that we have appointed Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Alex Marrero, to serve as Interim Superintendent of Schools for the remainder of the school year. Dr. Marrero has served as Acting Superintendent over the past month leading our District during this unprecedented time. The Board also continued the appointment of Peter Scordo as Acting Deputy Superintendent for the remainder of the year to assist the Board and Dr. Marrero in ensuring the stability of our educational program. The Board thanks Dr. Marrero and Mr. Scordo for agreeing to step up at this critical time and we are committed to supporting our entire central administrative team as we continue with re-entry and navigate the challenges ahead.
We are optimistic in what our future holds for us and have full confidence in the educators we have selected to lead the District. Our District offers an exciting opportunity to work in a wonderful school community that values excellence and equity, has high expectations for all students, and embraces our rich diversity. At our next meeting, along with our continued focus on re-entry, we will discuss the search process for a permanent Superintendent. We look forward to engaging the community in this search process. Our goal is to hire a new Superintendent effective July 1, 2021.
New Rochelle Board of Education
Rachel Relkin, President
William Iannuzzi, Vice President