Robert Cox's blog

District Fences with FOIL Requests

November 03, 2008 - 21:31

The City School District of New Rochelle and various interested parties including the Mayor and the head of the teachers union have repeatedly claimed that there is no "inequality" issue in New Rochelle between North End and South End schools in the wake of an article in The Journal News last summer. Given the claims by the District, it seems reasonable that someone would have studied the issue of performance of students from the various schools within New Rochelle. Perhaps the most obvious analysis would be a comparison of students from Isaac E. Young Middle School and Albert Leonard Middle School at New Rochelle High School.

How Cheating on High-Stakes Testing Works

November 03, 2008 - 16:47

The New York Times ran a story over the weekend about the sad case of MiShawna Moore, the former principal of a public school in South Carolina. Moore had been widely praised as a miracle worker for her leadership in turning around students at a low-performing, largely minority school in Charleston but is now facing possible criminal charges for cheating on standardized tests.

As test scores rocketed at her school, Sanders-Clyde Elementary, the city held her up as a model. The United Way and the Rotary Club honored her, The Charleston Post and Courier called her a “miracle worker,” and the state singled out her school to compete for a national award. In Washington, the Department of Education gave the school $25,000 for its achievements.

Isaac Young Teacher Disputes Criticism, Defends Fellow Teachers

November 02, 2008 - 20:42

Regina Simoes, a seventh grade teacher at Isaac E. Young Middle School, says teachers aren't the problem at Isaac Young and then singled out parents for criticism, admonishing them to play a more active role in their children's education. She went on to say that Isaac is hardly unique in having problems, claiming there are problems at both North End and South Schools that are not disclosed to parents or the public. That officials at both schools hush up incidents is hardly comforting news for New Rochelle residents.

Simoes, responding to recent criticism of the District, defended teachers and shifted responsibility to parents. "You make it what you make it", she said. She had a blunt message for parents who would complain.

Isaac Young Board Meeting, Failure Every Which Way But Loose

October 30, 2008 - 16:19

Only in the bizarro planet world that is the City School District of New Rochelle could school board members applaud presenters who spent two hours misstating basic facts, torturing data to put forward conclusions diametrically opposed to reality and otherwise misleading the board and an audience compromised primarily of district apparatchiks and assorted hangers on. I have been to quite a few board meetings lately but this one really took the cake.

Isaac Young Math Department Chairman Struggles with Basic Calculations

October 30, 2008 - 14:10

I thought I had seen it all at these through the looking glass school board meetings but Mr. Bongo, the principal at Isaac Young saved the best (i.e., worst) for last night when he presented Michael Galland who is, believe it or not, the Chairperson for Math & Technology at Isaac Young Middle School. Word is that this person is paid over a $100,000 a year to run the math program. I think the tax payers are getting taken for a ride with this guy.

Given his obvious lack of basic math skills the massive improvement in math performance for black and hispanic students at IEYMS described last night is even more incredible.

I have FOIL'd this particular slide so will soon have the actual slide but I can recreate it in a text version here. I do not know how to make tables in HTML so bear with me.

Board of Ed Seeks to Suppress Criticism of Superintendent Making False Statements to the Press

October 29, 2008 - 18:40

At the board meeting on October 7, 2008, I read from prepared remarks about a disturbing incident which came to light here on Talk of the Sound at the New Rochelle Community Pulse blog. It was while making these "controversial" remarks that School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and board member David Lacher repeatedly interrupted my remarks on the grounds that the "privacy rights" of the Superintendent of Schools were violated. Please note that I was commenting on statements to the press by a public official where no such expectation of privacy exists.

The Journal News reported that two classes of students from Trinity were forced to walk the perimeter of the playground for about 25 minutes during recess one day during the spring of 2008.

Free Speech Rights Suspended by Board of Education

October 29, 2008 - 16:34

At the end of every board meeting there is a public participation period which is described as follows in a lavender brochure distributed at the board meeting:

A portion of the agenda of each regular meeting is reserved for public discussions. During this time, members of the audience may express opinions or ask questions about any aspect of school district operations or procedures, except personnel. In order to protect the rights of those involved, all personnel matters should be referred to the Superintendent of Schools via the proper channels. Such matters are discussed by the Board in Executive Session.

I asked two board members about this policy and both stated that they were told by the District's lawyers that there was a law that prohibited the discussion of personnel matters in public session. I searched the New York State Code. I could find no such law. I contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union.


Latest posts from Robert Cox

New Rochelle Carpenter Says "No One Told Him" Could Not Take Vans Home, District Silent but Sends Letter to Employees

IMG_0352.jpgFrank Demasi of 57 John Street in New Rochelle spoke exclusively with Talk of the Sound earlier today and admitted taking New Rochelle School District vans home at night. In response to our request for comment to our story yesterday, Carpenter's Late Night Use of School District Van Questioned, Demasi told Talk of the Sound that no one in the school district authorized him to take the vans home but since no one told him he could not take the vans home he did.

Sources have told Talk of the Sound that Demasi has been taking home school district vehicles for more than a decade. Talk of the Sound obtained photographs going back to 2007-2008 that school district vehicles have regularly been parked in front of Demasi's home in New Rochelle over the past two years.

Demasi said the vehicle he has been taking home recently, Van #60, is supposed to be kept at the high school.

Demasi also told Talk of the Sound that the school district sent out a letter to district employees informing them it was school district policy that district vehicles were not allowed to be taken home. If any readers have received a copy of this letter please send us a copy.

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EXCLUSIVE: Carpenter's Late Night Use of School District Van Questioned

57 John Street 2.jpgTalk of the Sound has confirmed that a school district employee has been taking a school district vehicle home and parking it in front of his house at night and on weekends going back as far as 2007, possibly much longer. The employee, Frank Demasi of 57 John Street, works in the carpentry shop in the environmental services department of the City School District of New Rochelle. According to well-placed sources within the school district, employees are not permitted to take school district vehicle homes at night without specific authorization.

Through a combination of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting and the latest in high-tech image mapping from Google, Talk of the Sound was able to observe the van parked in front of Demasi's house on numerous occasions, the first instance having been documented by Google using their new Street View service.


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There are NO gangs in New Rochelle (Part 3)

IMG_0314.jpgAnother misguided reader sends along these photos purporting to show evidence of gang activity in New Rochelle. These are simply signs between New Roc City and North Avenue which contain notations made by civic minded youths to help pedestrians and motorists safely navigate downtown New Rochelle. New Rochelle residents know that there are NO GANGS in New Rochelle because the leadership of our City and our School District tell us so. So, please stop sending these sorts of photos as they are clearly either fake photos or some sort of attempt to portray and act of civic altruism as an effort by local youths to "stake out" territory in New Rochelle. I think we can all agree that if our Mayor, our Schools Superintendent and our City Manager can agree that there are no gangs in New Rochelle then the matter should be considered settled.

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Must Read: Westchester Magazine Rates High Schools, County is Highest Taxed in USA

70ECDFD3-80BB-40CC-BC93-E9CF464F11AD.jpgWestchester Magazine is a must read this month. Pick up a copy at your grocery store or local news stand.

High School Report Card

Do not expect to see the New Rochelle school board or administration touting these recent reports cards from U.S. News & World Report, Westchester magazine and the State of New York. Westchester magazine has New Rochelle ranked below Yonkers!

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King County (Seattle, WA) to Pay Blogger $225K for Withholding Records

The AP is reporting that a county government in Seattle, Washington has been ordered to pay a blogger $225,000 for failing to turn over records. Another court has thrown an unrelated $124,000 penalty because it was too low.

King County has agreed to pay conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky $225,000 to settle a public-records lawsuit he brought over the county’s delay in releasing documents about the 2004 governor’s election...In January, the state Supreme Court struck down a $124,000 penalty assessed to King County in another case. The justices said the amount was not nearly enough to punish the county for refusing to give businessman Armen Yousoufian records involving economic studies of Qwest Field.

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There are NO Gangs in New Rochelle (Part 2)

Last Wednesday night, nearly every panel on the south side of the highway overpass on Division Street was decorated by local youths who like to wear color-coordinated clothing to express their affinity as part of a later night volunteer effort to beautify local construction projects. By the end of the day clean up crews and inexplicably removed the "art":


But later that day the local artists returned to mark their territory beautify the neighborhood:






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Father of American Idol Judge Fires Up New Rochelle Tea Party

On April 15th, dozens of New Rochelle residents turned out to restore some Common Sense to government for the first ever "Teaparty" in the adopted hometown of American Patriot Thomas Paine. Held at the On The Waterfront restaurant near the marina on Long Island Sound, local citizens gathered to protest out of control taxes and runaway spending by all levels of government. Over a dozen speakers took to the open microphone to express concerns about a wide range of tax and spending related topics. Most speakers addressed concerns over school taxes and the school budget, property assessments, country taxes, plans to abolish Westchester County government. Little was said about state or federal taxes showing that once again all politics is local.

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