The New Rochelle Board of Education is expected tomorrow night to remove Vice President Jeffrey Hastie in a 5-2 vote with two board members absent, including the only other African-American on the board. Hastie will be the second black Vice President removed in 4 years.
The positions of President and Vice President are traditionally two-year terms with the Vice-President succeeding the President at the end of the second year. The effect of removing a Vice President in the middle of a two-year term is to effectively deny them the opportunity to be Board President. Jerome Smith was the last African-American board of education president in New Rochelle.
In 2009, long-time board member David Lacher, who is white, played a pivotal role in the removal of Vice President Quay Watkins, who is black. Lacher is widely believed to have been behind the ouster of Hastie as well.
The Board meetings tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. and will adjourn at 7:30 p.m. to the Board Room on the second floor at City Hall. The meeting tomorrow night is sure to be one of the most tense meetings since the infamous Watkins coup in 2009.
Hastie has been an outspoken critic of Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak. It was Hastie's unwillingness to abide by board practice of providing the administration all board member questions in advance that caused friction with older board members like Lacher, Polow and Reddington. For example, Hastie questioned administration officials in March about a resolution intended to sneak Aramark employees onto the district payroll as part of a scheme to defraud the New York State pension system. To that extent, Hastie's ouster is largely a victory for apologists for the district who prefer that the board always publicly support the administration and operate in secret.
Ironically, Hastie voted with Lacher in 2009 to replace Watkins as Vice President with current Board President Chrisanne Petrone who is expected to vote against Hastie tomorrow night. The vote in 2009 was 5-3 with Watkins and Jerome Smith, also black, voting for Watkins. The third Watkins vote came from Deidre Polow who, in a further twist of irony, ran with Hastie in 2009 and will now replace Hastie as Vice President after voting to remove Hastie.
Speculation is that Polow is a fill-in for one year to pave the way for newcomer Rachel Relkin who has been taken under the wing of Polow and Lacher.
In 2009, Julia Maxine Robinson noted that the leadership of the New Rochelle Board of Education does not reflect the diversity of New Rochelle. Under Petrone and Polow, the same statement could be made. Pearl Quarles, a former member of the New Rochelle Board of Education and one of the few African-Americans to serve as board president, was outraged over the removal of Watkins.
Expected Voting for Polow
Mary Jane Reddington
Expected Voting for Hastie