I alluded to it in my open letter to Chuck Strome but I figure that not many readers understand the many ways in which the City School District of New Rochelle has responded to my efforts to get justice for my son and to hold the school district accountable through Talk of the Sound. Long time readers know the story is very long but the short version for now is that a large number of school district employees have committed a wide variety of criminal acts and then sought to cover them up over the past several years. These criminal acts include falsifying records, perjury, obstruction of justice and much more. My case has now been appealed up to the Commissioner of Education in Albany where it is pending review. Determined to expose the pernicious nature of corruption endemic to the City School District of New Rochelle, I created this web site two years ago tomorrow. As the threads of corruption of extended into many other parts of New Rochelle including the City government, I have followed those threads wherever they lead.
The school district has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and done everything in their power to harass me and my family. Here are a few of the lowlights:
- A woman representing herself on the telephone as a lawyer working for Kehl, Katvize & Simon called my web hosting provider in Philadelphia, PA and threatened legal action on behalf of the school district if the provider did not shut down my site.
A person from a private investigation company in Manhattan called the same provider asking questions about my business practices and personal financial situation.
- My landlord received a phone call from a lawyer inquiring about me as a tenant, whether I paid my rent on time and my personal financial situation.
- Marion Kative, a lawyer working for Kehl, Katvize & Simon on behalf of the school district, accused me during a telephone call of engaging in blackmail during a discussion over the District's refusal to change my son's Chemistry Honors grade because after I discovered that there were two different versions of my son's answer sheet which clearly suggested that my son's grade had been purposely lowered to cause him to fail the class.
- Refused for months to respond to my Freedom of Information requests and later bundled several months worth of requests into one request and overstated the time involved to gather the information in order to invoice me several hundred dollars for requests that should have been made available at no cost.
- The district has since refused to comply with additional FOIL requests on the unfounded basis that since I refused to pay the phony invoice in May of 2009 and therefore am not entitled to any further public records under FOIL.
- Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak accused me of blackmail, in writing, when a lawyer contacted him on behalf regarding the district's failure to comply with the New York State Freedom of Information Law.
- The principal at Isaac E. Young Middle school used a relative on the police force to cause a false police report to be filed.
- Richard Organisciak wrote a letter, copied to me, informing building principals and other administrators that I was banned from school property except for public events or meetings involving my children. According to sources at the district, I am the only person who has been banned from school property.
- My wife, a district employee has been subject to repeated and prolonged retaliation.
- The district has spent over $350,000 on lawyers related specifically to my attempts to get justice for my son.
Along the way I have made a point to attend almost every school board meeting and asked numerous questions. For any other resident the district policy is to provide a written answer in about 10 days. For me, in more than two years of asking questions at board meeting I have had precisely one written response. And that response was entirely non-responsive to my question.
Last school year I made the following speech to the Board of Education to get at the issue of why the District refuses to answer questions or otherwise make themselves accountable to me. I am the only New Rochelle resident not affiliated or employed by the District who regularly attends Board of Education meetings. I ask plenty of questions and get very few answers. My speech was intended to make the point that Board Members took an oath that obligates them to defend speech with which they personally disagree.
Tonight I intend to ask a number of new questions and for those that are not answered.
Here are the news questions, below is the speech I gave and below that are the older questions that are still unanswered.
1. Where is the quarterly, mid-year and end of year review of the goal and objectives presented by the Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendents, Department heads and Building principals?
2. What ever happened with Organisciak Goals for (reduce 5-10% hearings, 3-5% in honors/AP, 2-5% increase in graduation rate?
3. Will the district make available to the public an inventory with status for all the laptops which were given out at jefferson school, a story the district promoted at the time via the Journal news.
4. Will the district make available a copy of Yvette Goorevitch's report on Fast Forward program?
5. Has a letter been sent by the School District to City telling them you do not want or need crossing guards during midday?
6. What is the status of enabling the system to allow parents to login to see grades?
7. What happened to the oft-discussed plan to hire tax certiori lawyers?
8. Why does head of buildings and grounds never appear before the BoE?
9. The BoE Meeting Agenda recently indicated "Superintendent Report - HS Completion and College Acceptance". This followed my requested for an explanation as to how the district calculates that 95-96% of graduates are accepted into college.
10. In February, I raised the issue of fundraising in a coercive fashion occurring at Ward School where my daughter attends and Albert Leonard where my son attends. I was told then the district would look into but I never heard back. What is the status of this issue?
11. I was at Don Coqui the other night for dinner and noticed they have the same cooking classes that where offered by MacMenamin's Grill. Some on this board became very upset when I raised question about the tens of thousands of dollars spent on this program and defended it vigorously. I recall that when MacMenamin's was closed by a Federal bankruptcy trustee the district put out an RFP for a new cooking program. What happened with that?
12. I have proposed in the past that the district create a web page to archive all of the documents, video and audio from every meeting -- agenda, resolutions, PPTs, etc. Some effort was put into this about a year ago but not much since. Any plans to expand on this?
13. The phone system in New Rochelle schools is terrible. Every building has been wired with ethernet at a high expense and every building and most every classroom has internet service. Why cannot the district provide every employee a voice mail just like they all have email. If cost is the object, why not register them for FREE Google voice accounts and route the voicemails to their email accounts? It costs nothing and provide parents and others a direct way to communicate with teachers and other staff.
14. Is it true that there were problems over the course of last year of a man exposing himself to children going to/from or at the Ward School?
Here is the speech and below that is a list of questions not answered.
American Values Speech by Bob Cox to New Rochelle Board of Education
The reason we, as a country, allow Larry Flynt and others like him to publish pornographic material that most people find odious; the reason we allow protestors to burn American flags at anti-war rallies, the reason we allow vile, inflammatory, hateful speech on radio, television, in print; the reason we allow filmmakers great license to depict graphic violence and sex in their movies is not because we embrace their efforts. It is not because we endorse their message. It is not because we enjoy reading their words, observing their images, watching their actions. It is in spite of them. If the American Nazi party wished to march down North Avenue just as they did in Skokie, Illinois we would allow it. If some in this country wish to praise the 9/11 jihadis, if some TV hosts wish to call them heroic, if some college professors which to blame Americans for their actions, we let them. Not because we share their views but precisely because we do not.
The test of American democratic values does not come from the soft middle but the bleeding edges of thought and action. It is the extreme case that challenges out commitment to democracy, to our Constitutional values.
It is no secret that the members of this board and the administration of this district loathe me. I am well aware that you consider me a pariah to be shunned. And as a result you are able to justify to yourselves and to each other all manner of behavior that you would be quick to recognize as otherwise unacceptable. That you refuse to answer my questions does not say anything about me. It says something about you. It says something about the depth of your conviction in the oaths you took as board members; for those of you who are lawyers to the oath you took as officers of the court.
Let me remind you of these words: "I do hereby pledge and declare that I will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of...
What Constitution is that you swore to support that says your faithful discharge of your duties extends only to those people whom you like, or can tolerate or at least do not loath. The Constitution you swore to support is written for everyone…even people like me…no matter how much you may despise me.
That little preamble you read prior to the public comment period is not a wedding toast or part of an after-dinner speech. Those words are drawn from the statue under which the creation and function of this board is authorized under the laws and Constitution of this State. That some of you might think that extending the rights and privileges enunciated under our Constitution is somehow optional, to be extended as a matter of personal prerogative, or as a political favor is not an indictment of the person asking the questions.
I have asked many questions, perfectly legitimate questions to which I and the rest of the community is entitled to answers. I would ask that you consider the matter further so that I might perhaps stand before this board in two weeks time with my questions have received the thoughtful, considered, full answers to which they are entitled.
List of Questions Asked of the School Board but Never Answered
9/01/08 - Will the board approve an independent investigation into why I received two different copies of my son's Chemistry Regents exam.
7/7/09 - Will the district replace its current audio recorder with a digital recorder so that audio from meetings will appear on the web quickly.
7/7/09 - Will the board make available to the public presentation/reports made to the Board and publish them online?
11/24/08 -Questions asked to the board and email to Don Conetta regarding the stabbing incident at NRHS (http://www.newrochelletalk.com/node/271)
1) Has the student who did the stabbing been identified; has he been apprehended?
2) What type of edged weapon was used?
3) Was the weapon recovered? How? Where?
5) If the wound was a minor "flesh wound" why was were paramedics called?
6) Who made the call for an ambulance? You? The nurse? Someone else?
7) Who made the call to the police? Did the police make any arrests?
8) Are either of the students involved back at school?
9) If you have yet to complete an investigation, how do you know this is an "isolated" incident and not part of some gang-related activity or on-going dispute among students at the school?
10) Do you intend to inform parents of the result of your investigation and what disciplinary action has been taken? If so, when do you anticipate that will happen.
I have sent Don Conetta an email with these questions and will publish any answers I get back from him (don't hold your breath).
10/27/09 - Will Mr. Organisciak revise his previous statement and contact the parent to advise her that he has done so?
10/27/09 - Why did Mr. Quinn wait until two years after Jefferson was cited for not having thermometers to buy thermometers?
10/27/09 - Does the school board believe that four failed inspections in two years is acceptable?
10/27/09 - Does Mr. Organisciak intend to apologize to that Ward parent for ridiculing them for having raised legitimate concerns about health safety issues in the schools?
10/27/09 - Has anyone on the Board explained to Mr. Quinn that a failed inspection does apply to the cafeteria as a whole?
10/27/09 - Has the board considered adopting a zero-tolerance policy on cafeteria health safety issues?
10/27/09 - Does the Board intend to issue an apology or direct the administration to issue one and make some sort of public commitment to doing a better job?
8/15/09, 10/27/09 - What has been the cause of the work on the tower not being completed at this point?
10/27/09 - Will Mr. Organisciak’s goals for 2009-10 be published to the web or anywhere else?
10/27/09 - As Rolf Koehler did not serve with the NRPD will the District amend the resolution requiring that the job he holds be filled only be a person who served with the NRPD and resubmit it to the board?
10/27/09 - Does Mr. Quinn intended to purchase more thermometers for staff at Ward School?
10/27/09 - Will the Board direct the administration to turn over a copy of the Smith report to me per my FOIL request?
10/27/09 - Will the Board consider having an outside agency conduct the testing at IEYMS this year?
3/1/09 - How did it comes to pass that as part of "Health Week" at NRHS last year, health teachers gave out t-shirts with the New Rochelle High School name an logo on the front and logos of sponsors including a cigar lounge and a discount cigarette store called "smokes for less" on the back?
10/1/08 - Why did Mr. Organisciak deny to the Journal News that students at Trinity School were collectively punished when he was in receipt of emails from the Trinity School principal, Mr. McMahon, apologizing to parents for teachers having collectively punished the students. Further, what source of information would Mr. Organisciak have about the incident other than the building principal and the teachers involved who all agreed that the children had been improperly collectively punished?
April 2010 - Why Doesn't the New Rochelle School District Enable IMAP Email?