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

City of New Rochelle Web Site Voted Worst in New York State

Well, the vote was just one person - me - but I think if there really were a contest for worst municipal web site, New Rochelle would certainly win in the "30,000 - 74,999 population category" and make a strong challenge for "Worst in Show".

The New Rochelle web site is a byzantine monstrosity that is largely useless for all except the most dedicated and persistent users. Many of the most useful links - and there are a few - are buried so deep within the web site, the path to arrive at those links is so slow and confused, the wall surrounding the information so impenetrable that the only purpose for having the information there is so the City can say it's there. Suffice to say, the phrase "user friendly" does not come to mind while connected to the New Rochelle Online web site. The good news is that the link to pay your parking fines works!

Let me be blunt. Whoever is in charge of the City's web site should be fired or relieved of their responsibilities. Even the simplest, easiest to correct problem with the site has been left unaddressed for YEARS. Here is the home page as of 10:30 AM this morning. See any problems?


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As Journal News Shills for Isaac Young Principal, Middle School Launches Program for High School Dropouts

In a story one part absurd and two parts District propaganda, the Journal News, and Mr. Aman Ali in particular, once again abdicate their responsibilities as journalists to serve as shills for the City School District of New Rochelle to promote a bizarre decision to send high school dropouts back to middle school. In the article that could have been - and may have been - written by the school principal himself, the District seeks to shift attention away from recent criticism of Anthony Bongo over his failure to care for a seriously injured student in his charge by promoting a nonsensical program supposedly designed to help adults with no relationship at all to his school.

Mr. Ali uses the phrase "hoping to correct the situation" without once clarifying what "situation" Mr. Bongo claims to be "correcting". If the situation is that a student has dropped out of high school and wishes to return would not the obvious solution be for them to return to the high school? If they want to get a GED, aren't there plenty of programs in and out of the district to prepare them for the GED exam? If they need job counseling, doesn't the New York State Department of Labor offer programs for this purpose?

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Salesian High School Student Found Dead at Home


A student at Salesian High School was found dead this morning in his home in the Bronx. The cause of death has not been determined. The student, Nicholas Nespolini, was a junior at the New Rochelle parochial high school run by Salesian priests. The school was informed of the unexpected death by the boy's mother. Salesian students who had gathered to attend a previously scheduled mass at Holy Name Church were informed during the service. The mass for the Feast of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian order marks the annual start of "Spirit Week" at Salesian High School. Nespolini lived on Randall Avenue in the Bronx.

Wake: Monday, February 2, 2009, 2:00-5:00 p.m. and 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Sisto Funeral Home, 3489 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465
Directions to Sisto Funeral Home (718) 892-2102

Funeral: Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 11:00 a.m.

Holy Name of Jesus Church, Petersville Road, New Rochelle, NY 10801

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Obama Inauguration: New Rochellians Gather to Watch History

Students at New Rochelle schools, City and School District employees at City Hall and students from Monroe College are just a few of the many thousands who will pause at noon today to observe the swearing in of Barack Obama as our 44th President.

Send us your pix.

Students in the Linda Kelly Auditorium at NRHS.

NRHS Obama.jpg
Students gather in the House Two Stacks at NRHS.

City and School District employees gather in the Second Floor Board Room at City Hall.

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Parks Department Clears the Way for New Rochelle Skaters

New Rochelle Parks Commissioner Bill Zimmerman, asked to respond to our ice skating story from the weekend, told Talk of the Sound that with Mother Nature's cooperation "it was wonderful seeing families enjoying some good old fashion winter outdoor recreation!"

Zimmerman told Talk of the Sound that Park Department staff will provide an update tomorrow on the remainder of city pond and lake skating conditions - they need to meet the City's minimum requirement of four inches of ice thickness from center to edge. He reports that his crew was out today clearing additional sections of ice (in addition to their other park related snow removal assignments).

Asked about the possibility of the New Rochelle Fire Department spraying the ice to smooth it out and thicken it, Zimmerman said it was discussed earlier today but may not be possible.

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New Rochelle Animal Rights Club Benefit Concert This Saturday Night

IMG_0318.JPGCome support animals that needs you help.

The New Rochelle High School Animal Rights Club is sponsoring a Benefit Concert for the New Rochelle Humane Society on Saturday January 24th from 6:00 PM until 10:30 PM. All are welcome.

The concert will be held at the Whitney E. Young Auditorium at New Rochelle High School at 265 Clove Road. Performing will be some of NRHS favorite rock bands. Tickets are $5.00 in Advance and $7.00 at the Door. For more information contact Mr. Frieder at NRHS by calling 914-576-4500.

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Cold Snap Turns New Rochelle into Winter Wonderland

It's been five years since it has remained cold enough long enough for local lakes to freeze solid but with recent overnight temperatures in the single digits the New Rochelle Parks Department has deemed City parks "safe for skating". Residents anxious get out on the ice showed up this morning at Beechmont Lake armed with shovels to clear the 2 inches of snow which fell overnight. Have some pix of New Rochellians having winter fun? Send them along.






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