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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.

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Latest posts from Robert Cox

Crowdsourcing: Is CVS Selling Expired Medications in New Rochelle?

CVSExpiredGoodsMap.jpg

During April and May, 2009, surveyors working for United to Win, a consortium of trade and services unions, visited 310 CVS stores in 9 states and found expired infant formula, medication and/or dairy products for sale at 180 CVS stores, more than 58% of stores surveyed.

The new findings include:

  • More than half of the CVS stores surveyed in the Metro Chicago are had expired products for sale including milk that was three weeks past its sell-by date.
  • 69 percent of CVS stores surveyed in Metro Atlanta had some expired products on their shelves including CVS-brand medication more than two years past its sell-by date.
  • Two-thirds of the CVS stores surveyed in Greater Pittsburgh had expired products for sale including infant formula that was six months past its sell-by date.
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Sexual Harrasment at New Rochelle's City Hall Creates Hostile Work Environment

B65CCA3E-98C5-461F-977F-E4977BDC8CA4.jpgTalk of the Sound has learned that a junior employee in the City School District of New Rochelle's Finance Office has repeatedly engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexually based behavior towards a senior department supervisor creating what has been described by one source familiar with the case as "a hostile work environment".

Kareem Ali, a clerk working on the 2nd floor at City Hall under Assistant Superintendent John Quinn, has been subject to repeated disciplinary action for unwanted contact between him and a female co-worker, a supervisor in the Finance department. Ali is restricted to certain parts of City Hall and is not permitted to pass beyond the men's bathroom in the 2nd floor hallway. He is required to go through an elaborate set of intermediaries to communicate with the supervisor to prevent further direct contact. He is not permitted to e-mail his supervisor directly. All communications, written and verbal, are passed to the supervisor thru another staff member. Despite these precautions, problems persist.

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New Rochelle School & Library Budget Pass, Hastie & Polow Elected to School Board

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Click to enlarge

FINAL TALLY (unofficial): The School Budget passed 2,200 to 1,420. With 3,600 votes cast the turnout was slightly larger than the 3,300 votes cast last year. All districts except Columbus, Jefferson and Holy Name supported the budget. The Library Budget passed 2,224 v. 1,231.

School Board
*Deidre Polow = 2,365
*Jeff Hastie = 2,053
Vincent Malfetano = 1,159
Kenneth Chorzewski = 742
*winner

Library Board
*Tom Leghorn = 2,326
*Emery Schweig = 2,167
*winner

NOTES FROM LIVEBLOGGING (earlier)

Heading over to City Hall to observe the vote tallies. More to follow. With only holy name and Webster left to report budget is yes=1919 no=1182. Polow=2064. Hastie=1776. Chorzewski=664. Malfetano=925 Library budget passed with 65,5%. School budget 62% yes 38% no. Polow 2190 Chorzewski 708 Hastie 1918 Malfetano 1021...Still waiting for holy name [from my iPhone]

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Security Guard at Heart of New Rochelle Sexting Incident Identified; Polow Knew

donny henry portrait for ALMS yearbook.jpgTalk of the Sound has confirmed that Donna Henry, a long-time employee of the City School District of New Rochelle, is the security guard at the heart of the “sexting” incident at Albert Leonard Middle School. As first reported by Talk of the Sound, a school security guard at Albert Leonard Middle School obtained a full frontal nude photo of a 7th grade student and transmitted the photo to other employees of the New Rochelle school district.

The District suspended Henry, a school employee with a long history of disciplinary problems that includes assaulting a child, but has since reinstated her. She is now working at a “make-work” security post on the second floor at City Hall in New Rochelle pending reassignment elsewhere.

School Board candidate Deidre Polow was among those briefed on the incident by school officials. According to police records, Polow failed to report the incident to law enforcement as is required for all mandated reporters.

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ELECTION DAY: Save Our City, Vote Down the Budget, Vote Up Malfetano

This is a reminder that Tuesday, May 19 (today!) is the date for the vote on the School budget, as well as the Library budget and Board of Education and Library elections. Polls are open from 7AM - 9PM. (If you don't know your polling place, you can call the Board of Education at 576-4219).

You should have received the "Budget News" newsletter in your mail recently; it will list your polling place on the mailing label and contains detailed information on the Proposed budget. If you have any questions about your polling place, please call the Board of Education at 576-4219.

If the budget is defeated the District can resubmit the budget or come up with a new budget in June. If that budget is defeated New York State will institute a contingency budget. According to the District, that budget will be $300,000 less than the proposed budget.

Now, look at the pack of lies being emailed around by backers of Polow, Hastie and the school budget:

THEIR CLAIM: There will only be full-day kindergarten starting in 2009 if the budget passes.

TRUTH: False. For months the school board and administration have justified this new program on the grounds that New York State was insisting on New Rochelle offering Full-Day K. If this is true why would the State cut this program for their own contingency budget?

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Union Members Use Our Children in Their Get Out The Vote Effort

backpack.jpgStudents across the District are carrying home a special "reminder" message from union members to parents about the school budget vote tomorrow. Schools handed out coloring assignments to young children which were then attached to their backpacks by union members.

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Why New Rochelle Needs a "No" Vote on the School Budget and a "Yes" on Vincent Malfetano

Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories. The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions, then protest reaches a critical mass. We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence, but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

May 19th and the School Board/Budget vote is upon us. The time has come for good men (and women) to do something.

That this web site turns bystanders into notable exceptions is what frightens the people who are running the New Rochelle School District. They are extremely good at playing the game to either corrupt souls or induce acquiescence or simply silence the many good, honest, decent people who work for the school district.

But this is not a game. They are playing with people's lives, their livelihoods, their careers not to mention the future of our children and many millions of the people's money.

In their desperate desire to maintain control these people have lost their moral compass -- if they ever had one -- living in a world of moral relativism where the ends justify the means and the ends are all the same-to keep power.

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