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 Schools Cry Poor While Rolling Out New "Laptops for Everyone" Program

dellnetbook.jpgChristmas came early for 110 fifth graders at Jefferson Elementary School courtesy of Santa Claus New Rochelle taxpayers. After weeks of claiming that this year's school budget is a "maintenance program" that keeps spending flat (by increasing it by $8,000,000), the City School District of New Rochelle has begun rolling out an OFF-BUDGET program to provide 110 brand new Dell Inspiron Mini laptops to every fifth grader for free. Talk about a good way to buy some school budget votes with taxpayer money! The sounds like about 200 votes right there from some very contented parents.

Somehow, with a budget supposedly cut to the bone, the district has now managed to come up with $39,000 to purchase 110 laptops for every 5th grader at Jefferson Elementary School and has plans to expand the program to every public elementary school in the City. For 1,000 elementary school students this program will end up costing somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000.

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New Rochelle Tea Party Today 5 PM at New Rochelle Marina

The Teaparty craze that's been sweeping the nation is coming to New Rochelle today at 5 PM. The event will be held at the On the Waterfront restaurant located at 2 Pelham Road in New Rochelle (directly adjoining the New Rochelle Marina). The event will run from 5 PM to 7 PM. There will be a special “Open-Mic” session for all citizens who want to be heard.

View 2009 Tea Parties in a larger map

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Why Talk of the Sound is Not Going Away


Some people - especially the apparatchiks in the New Rochelle School District and various government officials in New Rochelle - have expressed some surprise that Talk of the Sound has been so successful since its launch last summer. We are now getting about 8-10,000 readers a month (and growing) and have a Google Page Rank of 4 (out of 10) which makes Talk of the Sound the #1 New Rochelle hyper-local news site on the Internet and one of the most widely read "New Rochelle" web sites period (e.g., the City's own web site has a Google Page Rank of 5 and the School District's web site is a "4").

Believe it or not Talk of the Sound is a side project for me. Most of my time is spent running an organization called the Media Bloggers Association which has, as its primary mission, to provide legal support services to bloggers. We have defended bloggers in cases involving The New York Times, Associated Press, the State of Maine, Oprah Winfrey and hundreds of others.

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Closing of Don Coqui-MacMenamin's Grill Leaves Trail of Wreckage

MacMenaminsGrillCookingSchool4.jpgPeter Zisser, an attorney who represents Robert Gelzter, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the bankruptcy filing of MacMenamin's Grill, was in court recently to explain why Geltzer shut down the restaurant.

Trustee says Don Coqui restaurant was losing money

The trustee appointed to oversee the bankruptcy of Don Coqui Restaurant in New Rochelle closed the restaurant March 19 because it was losing money, the trustee’s lawyer told a judge today. Peter Zisser said that for each $1 in sales, the restaurant, formerly known as MacMenamin’s Grill, was spending $1.10 to $1.15.

Court records show the restaurant bouncing over 50 checks, mostly to employees but also a $10,000 retainer check for their own lawyer while leaving a trail of debts to a long list of restaurant supply companies.

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New Rochelle BID Announces Downtown Dining Stimulus Package

5B4D53CB-D1FB-4FF9-9523-A04BF6C4B216.jpgThe New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) announced its “Dine Downtown 2009” campaign. In introducing the campaign, Marc Jerome, Chairman of the BID stated: “The BID, the City and the business community have worked together to create a downtown environment inviting to restaurants. Now that we are seeing a rise in the number and type of delicious downtown dining opportunities, we created “Dine Downtown 2009” to invite the public to discover this quickly emerging restaurant district”.


The campaign’s first program “Discover, Dine and Save with BID Sawbucks” will run through May 31, 2009. The BID is issuing BID Sawbucks, humorously designed “$10 bills” that can be redeemed at dinner on Monday through Thursday evenings at ten participating restaurants. BID Executive Director Ralph DiBart noted, “We have learned from the great minds in Washington.

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Free Rabies Vaccinations Available at Stamen Animal Hospital in New Rochelle

C8BD2DBE-06B2-4D91-BD4C-95AC1FEAD21B.jpgThe Westchester County Department of Health, in conjunction with Stamen Animal Hospital, is sponsoring a free rabies vaccination clinic for the cats, dogs and ferrets of Westchester residents on Sunday, April 26.

The clinic will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Stamen Animal Hospital, 61 Quaker Ridge Road in New Rochelle. Appointments are necessary. To make an appointment, or for more information, please call the hospital directly at (914) 632-1269.

All county residents are eligible to bring their dogs, cats and ferrets in for rabies vaccinations, which will be free of charge if no examination is given. Examinations and other types of vaccinations may also be available at low cost during the clinic. Cats and ferrets must be brought in carriers and dogs must be on leashes. Aggressive dogs must be muzzled.

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Mom Brings Down Drug Ring at Albert Leonard Middle School

4599C6EB-5C82-4DCF-8DE9-5A76E5C4BF8A.jpgReaders first notified Talk of the Sound that six middle students had been "busted" for marijuana possession and dealing. Now comes word from NRPD that the mother of one of the students involved turned in her own son and implicated two other students who later admitted bringing marijuana to the middle school.

Police were called to Albert Leonard Middle School by Principal Bill Evans on the morning of March 17th. Evans told police that a parent of a student at Albert Leonard Middle School came to school to school with a small bag of marijuana that she had confiscated from her son. The mother told Evans of two other students that might also be in possession of marijuana. Evans called the students into his office and both admitted to possessing a small amount of marijuana which was turned over to Evans.

Talk of the Sound was informed over the weekend that the investigation had identified a total of six students -- 4 from New Rochelle and 2 from Scarsdale.

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