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INFAMY: Board of Education to Put on Corruption Clinic by Jamming Through Illegal "Rolf Koehler" Resolution

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INFAMY: Board of Education to Put on Corruption Clinic by Jamming Through Illegal "Rolf Koehler" Resolution

December 07, 2010 - 20:02
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BREAKING NEWS: Tonight the BoE pulled Resolution 11-183. The Board said they were referring the matter to the City of New Rochelle to review the language in the job description.

This is going to be a long article so pull up a chair, get comfortable and put on your thinking caps. If, at the end, you are as disgusted as I am about what the school district is doing here, considering showing up tonight and speaking our or, at least, bearing silent witness to the travesty of justice scheduled for tonight.

A few new disclosures in this article: (1) I was able to review the Eligibility List for the "Safety and Security" Civil Service Exam given in February which shows that Rolf Koehler was not on the eligibility list; (2) a draft copy of formal complaint sent to the New York State Municipal Service Commission by "concerned citizens; (3) the informed claim that the school district did not interview candidates for the open security administrator position. OK? Here we go...

Like the Walking Dead, Resolution No. 11-183 is back as our old pals Dominic Procopio, Bruce Danielle, Marty Daly and Richard Organisciak once again conspire to circumvent New York State law in order to jam through a resolution which clearly violates New York State law. Given the history of a marked lack of curiosity by Board of Education members and a willingness to take at face value even the most absurd claims made by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak the resolution is surely only being brought forward because the votes have been lined up to create a majority. With that done, by "tradition", the vote will then be made unanimous through a back room deal (i.e., violating another law, the New York State Open Meeting Law) so that the vote will be 9-0. Keep an eye on whether any board members are no-shows; that means they want to vote no but have been discouraged from attending in order to keep the vote unanimous. One definition of cowardice in knowing something is wrong but allowing it to happen anyway when you could have prevented it. Last week there some noises made by board members like Lianne Merchant and Jeffrey Hastie. It was likewise notable as to who did not return from last week's two hour executive session to form a quorum so the special meeting could be cancelled. Word is that David Lacher and Quay Watkins also raised objections last week to the effort to push through Resolution 11-183.

The wild card in all this is Chrisanne Petrone who once upon a time talked to a pretty good game about bringing integrity to the Board of Education but has failed to demonstrate any sort of genuine independence since being seated several years ago. Petrone likes her position on the board and the social status that it brings and has, by now, come to realize that the path to re-election is playing ball with people like Procopio, Danielle, Daly and Richard Organisciak on issues like this. To a large extent this is a litmus test for her along with some of the other board members -- a chance to overthrow the corrupt cabal that been running New Rochelle schools as a criminal enterprise with an educational mission.

For those Board of Education members either too stupid or too lazy or too senile to bother to independently verify that the resolutions before them are not legal we offer this brief primer on why the resolution is illegal:

1. The position of "School Security Specialist" created by Resolution 11-183 does not qualify for a 211 Waiver; the position itself is a newly manufactured title for the same role Rolf Koehler has had all along -- "School Security Officer" and "Director of Surveillance" -- and is nothing more than a transparent attempt to circumvent the civil service law and allow Koehler to double-dip.

2. In September 2009, the Board of Education passed Resolution 11-110 which similarly authorized the Superintendent to request a 211 waiver for Koehler along with Bruce Danielle and Robert Coyne. That resolution referenced an identical-but-in-name-only position last fall called "School Security Officer". The district filled the position "temporarily" with Rolf Koehler and requested an open-competitive civil service exam from the New Rochelle Municipal Service Commission last winter. That position has been around for decades and had basically the same job description as was posted following the passing of this resolution. 2. In October 2009, your intrepid reporter got up at the next board meeting and pointed out that Koehler did qualify for the job as described in Resolution 11-110 because it read "WHEREAS, Messrs. Daniele, Coyne and Koebler were initially recruited for employment based upon their demonstrated knowledge of and involvement with the School District's schools by reason of their prior service as officers of the Police Department of the City of New Rochelle...". Koehler never served on the New Rochelle Police Department. Undeterred, the district made a few slight edits to the resolution and resubmitted it to the board which then approved it without a single question asked.

3. In November 2009, the New Rochelle Municipal Service Commission posted an announcement of the job opening and the open-competitive exam (#63-128 #2284) referenced in Resolution 11-110. The job description did not match Resolution 10-110 but was consistent with past descriptions of the job, namely,

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS, EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: Candidates must meet the following requirements on or before the date of the written examination: Graduation from high school or possession of an equivalency diploma issued by the State Education Department of New York State; PLUS Two years of experience in a public or private law enforcement agency and some experience working with children.

This is the job description that been in use going back to at least August 27, 1996. Based on the results of that exam an eligibility list was created: 12 people passed the test, four of them were "reachable" and three were non-retirees and thus had to be given preference.

Talk of the Sound recently reviewed the eligibility list on file at City Hall and here makes it public for the first time.

Date List Established: 12-May-10 Expires: 12-May-11 Position: School Security Officer #63-128 #2284

Dennis Ferry (100)
Vincent Mirabile (100)
Joseph L. Rundinelli (100)
Paul J. Sarachelli (100)
James M. Carello (90)
Jose A. Llamas (90)
Wayner O. Preston (90)
Adam J. Libertella (80)
Imam Sabrie (80)
John F. Earvin (70)
Nelson-Ness Matos (70)
Simora L. McKenniss (70)

All candidates certified of appointment as of 5/26/86

4. Rather than fill the position of "School Security Officer" from the eligibility list as required by law, the district created an identical-but-in-name-only position last fall called "Director of Surveillance", filled the position "temporarily" with Rolf Koehler, and obtained another waiver under false pretenses. That waiver expired on October 31, 2010.

5. Rather than Koehler being separated from his employment with the District on October 31, 2010, Koehler filed for and was granted a leave of absence for "personal reasons". No explanation has been offered by the District as to how an employee who is to have their employment ended on a set data can obtain a two month leave of absence. Clearly, this was purely a ruse designed to keep Koehler on the books and make it easier to bring him back in some other positions through the machinations of Procopio, Danielle, Daly and Organisciak.

What is the statutory requirement for a 211 waiver?

You do not need a law degree to read the rather simple explanation on the New York State web site. Here are a few key points but feel free to click the link above and read the entire thing.

1. Section 150 of the Civil Service Law states that "a retiree's pension shall be suspended during periods of reemployment in the public sector" which includes working for the City School District of New Rochelle. Post retirement earnings from public sector employment are regulated by Sections 211 and 212 of the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law. Sections 211 and 212 of the Retirement and Social Security Law provides for the reemployment of a retiree without loss or diminution of pension. So, if you can get a 211 Waiver you can get both your pension and earn money in another public sector job in New York State although you do not accrue any additional retirement benefits.

2. Section 211 allows an employer to apply for a "211 waiver" so that a "retiree" working in the calendar year in which they turn 65 with annually earnings over $30,000 can work for two years for the employer and continue to receive their pension benefit.

3. If the employer does not get approval results in the retiree having to either suspend his/her pension, rejoin the retirement system or restrict his/her earnings to less than $30,000 (as of 2008). Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Rolf Koehler retired from the NYPD in 2001 and was appointed to the position of School Security Officer shortly thereafter, after having worked security at Isaac E. Young Middle School where he had some "issues". In June 2009, a knowledgeable school district insider posted to Talk of the Sound, Bruce Danielle Head of Security to be Dismissed?. This person wrote:

Bruce Danielle Director of Security is facing possible termination due to lack of BOE following proper procedure. The BOE was put on notice this week with a letter from the state informing them that Mr. Danielle was hired under improper procedures. Mr. Danielle was hired on December 1, 1997, with a salary of 103,940 by the end of 2007. More information including a copy of said letter from state to follow.

We never did get the promised letter but Talk of the Sound submitted a FOIL request today to obtain the letter and other documents related to these three people. There is no further information on Robert Coyne but if he is over the age limit the 211 Waivers would no longer be necessary for him.

4. The retiree's prospective employer must request approval for employment of the retiree under Section 211 from the appropriate authorizing agency for the retiree to receive his/her pension while still working. Usually, that authorizing agency is the New York State Civil Service Commission as is the case here.

5. In case like this where the retiree is not working for the same employer under which the pension was earned, the post-retirement earnings will be limited by a specific formula calculated by the retiree's Retirement System.

6. Chapter 640 changed the rules for 211 Waivers in 2008 to avoid "double-dipping" when qualified applicants were available (as is the case here). There is a grandfather clause in Chapter 640 which applies only if waivers were granted prior to the effective date of the change in the law (October 7, 2008). As neither Koehler, Coyne or Daneille had waivers at all they cannot be grandfathered in under Chapter 640 which is why passed Resolution 11-110 was brought before the board in September 2009. Under an agreement with the State of New York, Koehler, Coyne and Daneille could remain until June 2010 provided that at least in Koehler's case, an open-competitive exams were given he qualified for the position.

7. Under the amended law, only the Post-October 7, 2008 Statutory Criteria apply to Koehler, Coyne and Daneille. in order to obtain a 211 waiver the prospective employer must submit an application which contains detailed reasons to demonstrate that:

  • the retiree is duly qualified, competent and physically fit to perform the duties of the position in which he or she is to be employed;
  • the prospective employer has prepared a detailed recruitment plan;
  • the employment is in the best interest of government; and either
  • there is an urgent need for his or her services as a result of an unplanned, unpredictable, unexpected vacancy and sufficient time is not available to recruit a qualified individual and that such hiring shall be deemed as non-permanent rather than a final filling of such position; or
  • the prospective employer has undertaken extensive recruitment efforts and has determined that there are no available, qualified non-retirees.

There is no evidence that the City School District of New Rochelle has "prepared a detailed recruitment plan" but this seems highly doubtful as no one had heard of the position "School Security Specialist" until last Tuesday. There is de facto no "urgent need" for Koehler's services due to an "unplanned, unpredictable, unexpected vacancy" because there has been no vacancy since the position even today still does not exist. Koehler as been working in his full-time security administrator position for more than ten years so this is clearly not intended to "be deemed as non-permanent rather than a final filling of such position". Given the clear language of the law and that Koehler is not eligible to be grandfathered in under Section 640, there is no basis in the law for Koehler to receive a 211 waiver.

Absent in all this discussion is the district's lawyer.

At New Rochelle City Council meetings, Kathy Gill, the Corporation Counsel, is always sitting at the table, available to answer a legal question from the Council members or staff. Mount Vernon School District has their lawyer at their BoE meetings. In fact, this is standard practice for most such public meetings. Why is it that the New Rochelle Board of Education members never insist that their lawyer attend every meeting? Or how about just somemeetings? When this was asked in the past, the answer was always that it saved money not to have the lawyer present at board meetings. Given the high level of wasteful spending by the district, their sudden concern from saving a few hundred dollars at a board meeting is laughable. In any case, it might be nice if some lawyer could offer some legal opinion that might explain why the laws of the State of New York do not apply in New Rochelle. An entirely different matter came up last week, after Resolution 11-183 was tabled.

The City of New Rochelle Municipal Civil Service Commission made public notice of two positions -- "School Security Specialist" and "Director of Security". It is not clear why their is job posting for Bruce Danielle's job of "Director of Security" but the "School Security Specialist" position is the "Koehler" job.

Candidates must meet the following requirements on or before the date of the written examination: Graduation from a regionally accredited or New York State accredited college with an Associates degree or minimum 64 credits in criminal justice, police science or closely related field of study, AND four (4) years of work experience in public or private law enforcement that shall have included security video surveillance in a school district of which two (2) years shall have been in a supervisory capacity OR
Completion of a standard high school course or possession of an equivalency diploma issued by the State Education Department of New York plus six (6) years of work experience in public or private law enforcement that shall have included security video surveillance in a school district of which two (2) years shall have been in a supervisory capacity. Special Requirements: Valid NYS Security Guard License

For purposes of side-by-side comparison, here is the previous job description for what is the same position previously titled "School Security Officer" and "Director of Surveillance".

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS, EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: Candidates must meet the following requirements on or before the date of the written examination: Graduation from high school or possession of an equivalency diploma issued by the State Education Department of New York State; PLUS Two years of experience in a public or private law enforcement agency and some experience working with children.

Without having seen Rolf Koehler's resume, I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that (a) Rolf Koehler graduated from a regionally accredited or New York State accredited college with an Associates degree or minimum 64 credits in criminal justice, police science or closely related field of study, AND has four (4) years of work experience in public or private law enforcement which included security video surveillance in a school district of which two (2) years shall have been in a supervisory capacity; (b) that the people on the eligibility list for the "School Security Officer" position from May 2010 do not have six (6) years of work experience in public or private law enforcement that included security video surveillance in a school district of which two (2) years shall have been in a supervisory capacity. Just a hunch. The broader question is "Why would the Board of Education want to play these sort of games when it invites a complaint to be filed with the New York State Civil Service Commission, the New York State Department of Labor and creates the real likelihood of litigation. Having made themselves qualified, paid a fee, taken an exam and become eligible for the advertised position, I would have to believe that Dennis Ferry, Vincent Mirabile Joseph L. Rundinelli, Paul J. Sarachelli, James M. Carello, Jose A. Llamas, Wayne O. Preston, Adam J. Libertella, Imam Sabrie, John F. Earvin, Nelson-Ness Matos and Simora L. McKenniss have grounds for a lawsuit against the City School District of New Rochelle and the City of New Rochelle and quite possibly against the members of the Board of Education personally. In fact, a complaint has apparently been filed with the New York State Civil Service Commission on behalf of a group of "concerned citizens".

New York State Civil Service Commission
Albany, New York

December 3, 2010

Dear Commissioner,

Attached please find documents pertaining to the granting of 211 waivers and attempts to circumvent the intent of the 211 Waiver Law. The School District of The City of New Rochelle is attempting to maintain the employment of a retired police officer from the City of New York by requesting another waiver under section 211. In short, the school district successfully received a waiver for Mr. Rolf Koehler (retired police officer, City of New York, pension recipient) for the abbreviated period of July-October, 2010 with the stipulation it would be sufficient time for the district to hire a security officer from a newly established civil service list for the same title of School Security Officer. This letter is making you aware of the fact that interviews were not conducted for this open security position! In turn, the school district drafted a "new" job description listed as "School Security Specialist." The duties performed under this "newly-drafted" job description are the same duties performed by Mr. Koehler when he was employed by the district as School Security Officer. (Presently, Mr. Koehler's is on Leave of Absence due to the expiration of his 211 Waiver). Clearly, this is a blatant and arrogant attempt to deceive the State Civil Service Commission and in turn circumvents the intent of state regulations. As is the case in Albany where "three men sit in a room" to advance state-related issues, we believe we have had a similar situation in the City of New Rochelle School District as it relates to this issue. The Superintendent of Schools with the Director of School Security and the City of New Rochelle Civil Service Commissioner met privately to discuss strategies how to circumvent the mandate from The State Commission which directed that a candidate from an existing certified civil service list for the position of School Security Officer be selected for the opening vacated by Mr. Koehler upon the expiration of his waiver (October 31,2010). "The three men in the room" decided to ELIMINATE the open position and replace it with a newly described position heretofore noted as "School Security Specialist!" We ask for your assistance to STOP this attempted abuse of power by School and City Officials sworn to uphold the law! Sincerely, Concerned Citizens

Now you know why I often say the City School District of New Rochelle is a criminal enterprise with an educational mission. The kids running around the playground, the teachers standing in front of a classroom of students, the school plays, the field trips, the board members sitting upon the dais, are all a cover under which adults find ways to loot the school district. Dare to question any of this and you will be singled, punished, accused of being "anti-children" or "anti-education" and otherwise harassed. If Samuel Johnson was right, that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" (meaning false patriotism) then what do you call the liars, crooks and thieves hiding behind other people's children to excuse their own scurrilous behavior. If ever there was a time to draw a line, this is it. All the key players are here -- Dominic Procopio, Richard Organisciak, Marty Daly, Deidre Polow and their ilk. Their corrupt practices are plain to see. If not now then when. If not with Danielle and Koehler then with who? Time for a change. Show up! Stand up! Come to City Hall tonight and be heard or bear witness but let them know you have had enough by being there and being counted. Come and enjoy the irony of the Board of Educations slogan - "Seeing Is Believing See For Yourself" One last kicker for you, in case you are still not sure, one tipster pointed that the Journal News published a list of income for school employees in 2008 and 2009 and that Koehler received in one year about $29,000 in additional pay, a remarkable sum considering the position only comes with about a $47,000 salary (we are working on getting the exact figures). That would mean that Koehler got almost a 60% "bonus" on top of his salary, benefits and vehicle working a job where no one is keeping much of an eye on his comings and goings during the school day. UPDATE: The Journal News had the salary data on lohud.com but due to a technical issue the data on their server was lost. The folks on their "data desk" were kind enough to take time to pull the Koehler data from 2008 out and send it over to Talk of the Sound. Double hat-tip to them for that!

Name: Rolf KoehlerPosition: School Security OfficerDepartment: None assignedBuilding: New Rochelle High SchoolStatus: AF/P: FHire date: 4/26/99Regular pay: $42,237.28Overtime: $13,199.88All other: $18,715.92Gross pay: $74,153.08

Given this data from the JN, let's note that in 2008 Koehler got $31,915 in extra pay on a salary of $42,237 which comes out to be extra pay approximating more than 75% of his base pay; put another way about 43% of his total pay in 2008 came from overtime and "other".

Board of EducationCommittee of the Whole Session and Regular Meeting of the Board of EducationTuesday EveningDecember 7, 2010Central Administration515 North Avenue, New Rochelle, New York AGENDA "Seeing Is Believing" See For Yourself 6:00 P.M. Committee of the Whole Session Carew Room The Board anticipates making a motion to go immediately into Executive Session to hear the Appeal of Student No. 2010-2011/1. At approximately 7:00 p.m., the Board anticipates making a motion to reconvene the Public Session. 7:00 P.M. Committee of the Whole Session Carew Room I. Board of Education Announcements II. Superintendent's Report 2010-2011 Goals & Objectives: Curriculum & InstructionDr. Jeffrey Korostoff, Assistant Superintendent 2010-2011 Goals & Objectives: Curriculum & Instruction Support & Funded ProgramsDr. Diane Massimo, Assistant Superintendent III. Review of Additional Draft Resolutions 8:00 P.M. Regular Meeting Board Room

You can read the entire Order of Business for tonight's Board of Education meeting ORDER OF BUS_12-07-10.pdfhere but the key section is below:

ORDER OF BUSINESS BOARD OF EDUCATION, NEW ROCHELLE TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2010 NEW BUSINESS: No. 11-183 RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING AND SUPPORTING THE SUBMISSION BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF A WAIVER REQUEST TO THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION PURSUANT TO RETIREMENT AND SOCIAL SECURITY LAW SECTION §211 FOR DISTRICT EMPLOYEE

RELATED:

New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)

Board of Education Tables Illegal "Rolf Koehler" Resolution After Rare Two Hour Executive Session

School Board to Put on Special Display of Good Old Fashion New Rochelle Corruption

Law: Eligible Lists

Meet Geeta Singh: New Rochelle "Resident" and School Security Guard from Bronx, NY

Domenic Procopio Pays Back Illegal Combat Veterans Property Tax Exemptions, Tens of Thousands of Back Taxes "Forgiven"

New Rochelle Board of Education Passes Phony 211 Waiver Resolution

Running Tally of Unanswered Questions Asked of the New Rochelle Board of Education since 2008

There are 3 Comments

Parents and taxpayers in New York City were furious with the proposed appointment of Black for Chancellor and got the State Commissioner to insist that her waiver would only be approved if a co-chancellor witb education experience was appointed.

Here in New Rochelle there is only one voice speaking out about Board of Education injustices. Why is this so? Is anyone paying attention?

But its not just New Rochelle, its all of NY! The New Rochelle school is spending close to $20 Million dollars each and every month of our money and we should have a better oversight.

We have meaningless budget votes that basically jam budgets through but they have voter approved stamp on them. And there's no reprecusions if there numbers are wrong. For example, NR voters approved a budget last May that called for a 3.8% tax increase, but did anyone compare last years tax bill to this years tax bill? I did and guess what? My taxes actually went up 5.2% and nobody cares. There's no up roar or anything and I just don't get it.

All the PTAs send out emails and flyers that closely skirt the law by not actually endorsing the budget but the communications will tell you about all the great things the schools are doing and if the budget isn't passed that the programs won't be available anymore so you can infer that they want you to vote yes. If a budget were to be rejected, the contingency budget could actually be worse for the tax payer. We have elections for board members that have no party affiliation so you know very little about any stance they may have, be it a free wheeling liberal spender or a fiscal conserative, we really have no idea when we go vote. And why doesn't the mayor control the school purse strings like in CT?

As 1 of our trustees put it last year when asked about the tax increase compared to the rate of inflation, just suck it up!

and more lawlessness in New Rochelle.

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