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

May 19th is coming: Time to SUCK IT UP!

Truth in advertising from supporters of Polow, Hastie and the District's $229 mm boondoggle budget.

Over the past two months self-centered New Rochelle residents have appeared before the school board to tell sob stories about losing their jobs and the rise in home foreclosures. Week after week, members of the school board have had to sit and listen to octogenarians on fixed incomes cry poor, property owners whine about their property taxes, and long-time residents drone on and on about returning to some mythical golden age. Enough already!

Click to read: SUCK IT UP.pdf

Be sure to print up copies and distribute them to your friends and neighbors.

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Talk of the Sound Hits 50,000 Visitors Mark

Less than 9 months after launch, Talk of the Sound reached the 50,000 mark.

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New Rochelle Police Destroy Records in Child Pornography Case at Albert Leonard Middle School

Talk of the Sound has obtained police records, which show that New Rochelle police failed to fully investigate a report of child of pornography involving students from the Albert Leonard Middle School, failed to follow leads in the case which suggest the images was received and transmitted by adults and destroyed evidence in the case the returned the cell phone used to take nude photo of a child to its owner, minus the nude photo.

According to an incident report filed by Detective Ray Andolina, the youth officer for the New Rochelle Police Department, the incident first came to light on December 10, 2008 when a 14 year old student at Albert Leonard Middle School informed school principal William Evans of a nude photo being circulated via cell phone for over a week among students at Albert Leonard Middle School and New Rochelle High School. Sources tell Talk of the Sound this is the same full frontal nude photo of a 7th grade student which was obtained and distributed by a security guard at Albert Leonard and distributed to other district staff throughout the district including security guards and other staff at Isaac E. Young Middle School.

The 7th grade girl in the photo has since relocated to New Jersey. Her 14-year-old boyfriend took the photo.

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Wagner Withdrawal Shows Depths to Which School Board Will Go to Maintain Control

Jack Wagner told Talk of the Sound he formally withdrew his name as a candidate for New Rochelle School Board earlier today following our exclusive report yesterday on his decision to step aside in the wake of a whisper campaign organized by supporters of his opponents for school board.

Wagner left the race after deciding there was no time this close to the election on May 19th to sufficiently explain the context for the consent decree and that his continued presence in the race would draw votes away from Vincent Malfetano the only remaining candidate with the support and name recognition with a good shot to defeat long-time candidate Deidre Polow.

A consensus has developed among many New Rochelle political observers that Ms. Polow created an opening for a challenger to take her seat following a disastrous, hostility-laced performance at the League of Women Voters forum at the New Rochelle Public Library on Monday. Many expect Vincent Malfetano will pick up much of Dr. Wagner's support based on Malfetano's call for an embrace of good government principles. He has called for greater transparency and fiscal responsibility.

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When It Comes to "Free" Full-Day Kindergarten, School District Flunks Basic Math

The actual increased cost of full-day Kindergarten program for the 2009-2010 school is year is about $5,000,000 not "free" as the District has repeatedly claimed. The TOTAL cost of Full-Day Kindergarten which includes ALL the students who will be enrolled in Full-Day, including those who would have been any way at Barnard and through other program is about, and accounts for those who would have been in half-day K is about $17.5mm.

Math students are taught to use estimation to spot check their answers on exams so they have a rough idea of what the correct answer should be before they attempt to solve the problem. This is a test-taking technique long taught in SAT prep courses. Since the District does not know how many kids will enroll for the fall and they are obscuring money in their opaque budget document we will have to make some educated guesses, all of which can be adjusted if the district decided to give exact figures. Let's see what happens when we apply this estimation math skill to the District's supposedly "free" Full-Day Kindergarten that is budgeted to begin next fall.

1) There are roughly 11,500 students enrolled in K-12 so each class has about 11,500 divided by 13 which comes out to be about 880 students per class year.

2) The proposed school budget is $229 mm so divide that by 11,500 and you get a cost per pupil of $19,913.

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EXCLUSIVE: New Rochelle School Board Candidate to Withdraw after Professional Medical Misconduct Charges Surface


Dr. Jack Wagner, candidate for New Rochelle School Board, has told Talk of the Sound exclusively that he intends to withdraw from the campaign in the wake of the disclosure that in 2000 he entered into a consent decree with the New York State Board for Professional Misconduct admitting to professional misconduct in performing surgery on a patient with advanced cancer who had a directive prohibiting aggressive treatment in the event of a terminal condition.

"I started this for the purpose of doing something good for the people of New Rochelle", Wagner told Talk of the Sound before announcing his intent to withdraw from the race which ends on May 19th when New Rochelle vote for 2 School Board seats as well as the School Budget and 2 Library Board seats.

The four remaining candidates are Deirdre Polow, Jeffrey Hastie, Kenneth Chorzewski, and Vincent Malfetano.

Under the terms of the consent decree Wagner agreed that his license to practice medicine would be limited to preclude patient contact and any practice of medicine. He agreed to his license status being made "inactive" although it was not revoked has been claimed by operatives working for other campaigns. Wagner is still a medical doctor.

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New Rochelle Security Guard Implicated in "Sexting" at Albert Leonard, Took Teen's Phone, Distributed Images

60EC9EDC-0713-4448-AA81-FA08CB9B1618.jpgTalk of the Sound has learned that parents of a middle school student in New Rochelle, NY have pulled their child out of the school district and relocated in the wake of a "sexting" incident at Albert Leonard Middle School. "Sexting involved students taking nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and sharing them with their friends.

What makes this case unusual is the large number of adults involved in the case. The incident focuses on a security guard with a past history of disciplinary problems. Also implicated are other district employees at Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School. The New Rochelle School Board and Office of the Superintendent have known of the issue for months yet the guard is still employed by the District. Talk of the Sound has also learned that the New Rochelle Police Department was notified of the incident. TOS has filed a public records request seeking all documents related to the case.

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