New Rochelle Board of Education President Preemptively Blames Talk of the Sound for "Failed" Superintendent Search

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The Board of Education will receive a presentation tonight from the search consultants hired by the Board (at the insistence of David Lacher and over the objections of the rest of the board, sources say). The firm will describe an "executive profile" they developed based on community input gathered over the past few weeks.

The process has been, to say the least, "bumpy".

After the New Rochelle Board of Education meeting at Jefferson School on January 28th devolved into a shouting match between David Lacher and various members of the public (not including me!) I was brought into an email exchange between board member Jeffrey Hastie and board President David Lacher.

Much of the shouting and the recriminations between Lacher and residents, including Denise Ward and Vincent Malfetano, revolved around whether the District should release a list of people and groups that were invited to private sessions to provide input for the executive profile.

In the course of the exchange, I reiterated a statement I had made publicly at that meeting where I pointed out that what occurred during the Jefferson meeting would discourage candidates from accepting a position in New Rochelle:

I expect that New Rochelle is a "tough ask" for the best candidates. I think the Jefferson board meeting will only compound that and I suspect you all may find yourselves left at the alter.

Lacher responded to this point as follows:

And your last thing goes to the very heart of what I have been saying for years about your incessant pounding and repetition and regurgitation of every bad thing that ever happened here, no matter how many years ago: what star superintendent candidate would want to come to the kind of district which you describe? You already have willed it and decreed it: our search will fail; it must fail. So that you can claim another "gotcha" and say I told you so. But the true cause will be you. And that will be the ultimate manifestation of your influence and your glory in this community - that you painted such an ugly picture of your community, where your children were and are receiving a first-rate education, and where you are the beneficiary of your wife's generous and expensive employee benefits, that no star superintendent candidate would want to come here. Is that the legacy you want to leave here? Lianne and her private diatribe to her 8 colleagues are so puny compared to the damage that you - and now Jeffrey - have done to this community. But of course you will not see it that way.

I responded publicly to this email at last night's board meeting at Barnard School.

I wrote a speech but the font was so small on my phone I could not read it very well so what I actually said differs slightly from the speech as written. I will post the video of my remarks when it becomes available on the District web site.

Mr Lacher recently complained that my "incessant pounding and repetition and regurgitation of every bad thing that ever happened here, no matter how many years ago” will discourage a "star superintendent candidate” from wanting to take the job in New Rochelle.

Mr. Lacher writes about me: "You already have willed it and decreed it: our search will fail; it must fail. So that you can claim another "gotcha" and say I told you so. But the true cause will be you. And that will be the ultimate manifestation of your influence and your glory in this community - that you painted such an ugly picture of your community, where your children were and are receiving a first-rate education, and where you are the beneficiary of your wife's generous and expensive employee benefits, that no star superintendent candidate would want to come here.”

Before I address this notion that I will be the cause of YOUR failure to hire a “star candidate” let’s have a sidebar.

You and I agree on some things and disagree on others but in all of our discussions over the years I have never made it personal.

You on the other hand have for years joined your board colleagues and engaged in spreading all manner of defamatory statements about me and have repeatedly sought to make it personal.

Now you bring my children and my wife into this?

My wife has done nothing but been an excellent employee of the district despite the long-standing retaliation against her for daring to advocate for our son and as a way for this board and this district to exact revenge against me

As for my children, I would like to believe my kids succeed in part through THEIR effort and OUR support not simply by YOUR good graces.

End of sidebar.

As for my causing your search to fail, I would imagine that a Superintendent candidate would be far more likely to be interested in the conduct of the school board then anything I might say.

And that conduct includes you shouting at people, hurling insults and otherwise disgracing your office.

It may appear that I am pounding and repeating every bad thing that ever happened here because that is so different then the culture I found when I first started to coming to meetings — a culture of sweeping problems under the rug.

But the problem is not my pointing out these problems out but your failure to do something about them.

There is a great deal I find troubling about Lacher's statements beyond the odious decision to drag my wife and kids into our disagreement about whether or not the district should release "the list" or the breakdown in civility at the Jefferson board meeting (of which I had no part).

My wife works under a union contract negotiated by people appointed by Lacher and for which he has always voted to support. She works to EARN her benefits. They are not a gift

If Lacher believes my wife's employee benefits are generous and expensive why did he vote to approve them?

More to the point, the insurance coverage I have, whether through my wife or not, is a private matter, covered under HIPPA, so why is he bringing it up in an email exchange involving third parties?

I leave it to the union to address Lacher's labeling of the benefits obtained under collective bargaining as generous and expensive.

I do not think it is entirely unreasonable to take Lacher's remarks as a threat against my wife. After all, he is the President of the Board of Education and he is raising the issue of my wife's employment and her compensation in the context of making all sorts of wild accusations about me and my reporting on problems in the District. Is it far-fetched to take his words as a "shut up or else" kind of threat?

In any case, I thought folks should know the context for my remarks last night.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Bob McCaffrey on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 02:02

David was very wrong!

How can we fail when we have just begun, If only he and the board would give up so easily when challenged with facts and truth about problems with the school system?

From what I saw at New Rochelle High School Wednesday night at the presentation, the search team from Hazard, Young & Attea feels we have some very good candidates to look at already. They felt there was a very positive outlook even before the Leadership Profile and Draft Criteria were completed. They had already started the search with announcements and advertisements in professional media. Over forty candidates so far and they also said the feedback and dialog from the community was helpful, even Vince. So I don't know what David was saying. Here is info from last night. District website: http://www.nred.org/

Presentation:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/nred/Board.nsf/files/9GQ3F98395FC/$file/SuptSearch_PP_HYA_2-26-14.pdf

Leadership Profile Executive Summary:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/nred/Board.nsf/files/9GQ3FQ839F81/$file/SuptSearch_LPR_2-26-14.pdf

City of New Rochelle School District Draft Criteria:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/nred/Board.nsf/files/9GQ3FE839D09/$file/SuptSearch_DraftCriteria_2-26-14.pdf

I want to thank the search team from Hazard, Young & Attea, the executive search firm hired by The New Rochelle Board of Education for a job well done. I took part in some of the meetings and the process. It was both rewarding and enriching for us and them. They seem to have recognized the dynamic and what goes on in New Rochelle and kept things open and professional. I am sure this is not their first rodeo. Maybe it is time for a Leadership Profile and Draft Criteria for the New Rochelle School Board Members as well!

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