For Second Time in Four Years, White Board Members Set to Oust a Black New Rochelle Board of Education Vice President

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HastieSwearingIn 260The 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
Chrisanne Petrone
David Lacher
Deidre Polow
Mary Jane Reddington
Rachel Relkin

Expected Voting for Hastie
Jeffrey Hastie
Naomi Brickell

Absent
Valeria Orellana
Lianne Merchant

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Jeffrey Hastie on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 00:03
Title: My View

To TotS Readers,

I've never posted to this site either anonymously or not. But I feel it necessary to respond to the article Mr. Cox posted about the impending VP vote for Board of Education.

Before I respond, I would like to thank those who e-mailed or phoned me in support. As I stated at the board meeting the other night, I'm disappointed in the action my colleagues took and their methods.

While Mr. Cox makes statements of facts, the implication is that the decision not to re-elect me as Vice President was racially based is absurd. They may be accused of being short-shghted and insular but not racist. Labels like that should be used carefully and appropriately. Plus, it clouds the real issues that are in play here, many of which Mr. Cox mentions and commenters have astutely picked up on.

Essentially the vote not to re-elect me was payback for not supporting Mr. Lacher's decision to run for office again. Four five-year terms is long enough. I said as much directly and stated that I was looking for a candidate to run who could bring in fresh ideas. Unfortunately, the nature of school board elections in New Rochelle does not lend itself to open elections. To give you a flavor of the thinking of board members, below is a snippet of two e-mail exchanges between board members (snippets because other parts of the e-mail discusses board issues which I am not at liberty to relay).

Snippet 1 -

Board Member:

2. If you know that a community member is interested in running against David and Chrisanne- I think we all have an obligation to bring their names forward. Both David and Chrisanne are VITAL members of this board and I think we deserve an opportunity to speak with the person and guide them to next year when there will be a free seat.

My response:

I have to disagree with you on whether its an obligation of a colleague to let the board know if someone is interested in running for the board. We live in a democracy and anyone and everyone has a right to run. To suggest that we should encourage them to run next year when there is an open seat smacks of old boys club. Not something that I want to be a part of (having parents raised in the segregated South, you can understand my viewpoint). If and when I run again, I have no problem with an opponent and no problem if a colleague wants to support my opponent. Ultimately its the community who decides who represents them, not the board. If and when I do run again, it will be my last BOE campaign because I'm not in favor of staying on the board more than 10 years. I'd move aside for folks who have younger kids and are more engaged in the outcome of the schools.

Snippet 2 -

David Lacher

And finally, by now it is fully known by all our colleagues that at least one of us, and maybe two, actively courted [redacted] to run for the board THIS YEAR, against our two incumbent colleagues. Even if I were not a candidate, and even if this were not personal to me, I would suggest that if any of you has information that anyone is contemplating a run against your colleagues, then you owe it to your announced candidate colleagues, and to all your other colleagues, to identify those people immediately. Otherwise this is no different from the rumors that were spread about Mary Jane's early retirement.

My response

As far as [redacted] or any other candidate showing interest. I don't feel any obligation to inform my colleagues who is interested. Nor do I feel the obligation to convince interested candidates not to run. We live in a democracy. All are welcome to run. Additionally, I feel the board is an old boys club that I do not want to continue to foster. I know I benefitted from that but as my father told me growing up "if you ever want to change something, you have to do it from the inside." I've said to you before that I think 20 years is long enough on the board. I'm limiting myself to 10 (assuming I run and win again). [redacted] did reach out to me and I told her I would support her if she ran. I think she would be a great addition. If she doesn't run, so be it. I'm not courting her but giving her my opinion. You may see it differently. FYI - no one else has reached out to me about running. But as stated earlier, I don't feel compelled to say one way or the other, so that will be the last time I address it.

For the first snippet, since it is not obvious which board member wrote the e-mail I chose not to divulge the identity.

Should I decide to run for a second term, I welcome an opponent. Competing ideas is how this democracy was formed and how we as a community grows. I can guarantee that should I run & win, it will be my last.

I see my role on the board as serving the taxpayers and children of New Rochelle, not the protection of board members or administration. I will continue to press for more transparency and accountability. While the board has made progress over the past few years, we still have a ways to go.

Thanks,
Jeffrey Hastie

Warren Gross on Fri, 07/06/2012 - 03:25

You have set an example for everyone in the community who respects honesty, courage, and citizenship.

Jeffrey, I hope the young people in the district who you have so courageusly represented see this for what you say it is. This is your story, your act of moral defiance and we are the better for it.

I have called upon the leaders in the community to rise up against the loss of your services to a community that needs an independent voice. Terms limits adds a most welcome dimension and it would be an outrage to not take advantage of your experience, service, and I reckon a whole lot of good, strong people who want to work with you to make this district the best it can be under extraorindarily difficult services.

You can reach me at any time and can count on my full support. What you learned as a child from exceptional parentage makes it imperative that you play a leading role.

I do take you at your word on racism and my remarks are directed at what in business seems to be clearly a change agent being blocked by proponents of the status quo.

You are going to find a hell of a lot of new friends very quickly and I urge the parents and taxpayers throughout the district to make it very uncomforable for our city councul members and mayor to play hands-off. It should not be ideological, politically correct hands off, but working collegiality with a good man who wants good for the City.

I am particularly proud of my fellow bloggers for seeing this as they have. Just returned from minor surgery and Jeffrey, you have done good here, very, very good.

God Bless

warren gross

OldTimeNewRochellean on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 20:35

Mr. Hastie...I just want to say that I watch the BOE meetings on cable...You are GREAT! Why?
because you are outspoken, many. many times you catch them totally off guard and I watch them all wiggle in their seats!

But that's why you are so important, regardless of what the others on that Board think, you are there for the people (community) and foremost the children.

I support you 100% Mr. Hastie!

Martin Sanchez's picture
Martin Sanchez on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 01:57

Hang in there Jeff,

Here's my take on term limits and it is directed at three school board board member:
• Term Limits can help break the cycle of corruption in the New Rochelle Board of Education (same holds true for the City Council of New Rochelle). Case studies show that the longer an individual stays in office, the more likely they are to stop serving the public and begin serving their own interests and those of special interest groups (like i.e., Armark);
• We need term limits because it will encourage regular citizens to run for office. Presently, there is an overwhelming re-election rate in the New Ro BOE. Because of name recognition, and usually the advantage of money, and unbelievable voter apathy, it can be easy to stay in office. Without legitimate competition, what is the incentive for a member of the BOE to serve the public? Furthermore, it is almost a lost cause for the average citizen to try to campaign against current member of the BOE because of the intrinsic nature of our segregated community.
• Term Limits will break the power special interest groups have in our BOE – these interests are the real estate interests that infest our community.
• Term Limits will force BOE members to think about the impact of their policy decisions because they will be returning to their community as civilians shortly after their policies are enacted.
• Term Limits will bring diversity of people and fresh ideas to the New Rochelle Board of Education. This is how I saw Jeff Hastie ascension; this is how I saw my role when I was a BOE member.
To ask questions and to speak out is a necessary trait of board members. There are some board members who have not spoken a complete sentence in several years. What is that about? There are those who you can be sure have voted 100% of the time with the created resolutions of the Superintendent? Does not this look like a living in a Soviet Style Duma? Some day when a resident of New Rochelle asks a question at the BOE mtg, we would hope that they could get an answer. For many of the BOE members who have been there for 20+ years, enough is enough. What will be your legacy? Some of you have no clue what goes on in many of our schools. When you visit Columbus for a Board meeting, it is your only foray into my neighborhood and I am sure you cannot wait to leave! Hang in there Jeff. You have the courage to stand firm and ask questions no one else on the Board wants to or can. Changes have occurred in the time you have been there, but more can occur. I respect you work. I will hopefully join you next year. Thank you.

Martin Sanchez
Former School Board Member
West End Resident

Fifth Ave Guy on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 00:55

Wow, Jeffrey! Nice write-up and thanks for clarifying things. I'm sure glad I voted for you a couple of years ago and I hope you run again. The district needs more good people like you on the school board. As for the others on the board, I'm stuck between a loss of words and inappropriate words at their arrogance.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 00:56

I would like to thank you for sharing this with the community as the board members involved in removing you as Vice President failed to provide the public ANY explanation for their actions last night. It is hardly a surprise that they would take the (formerly) unusual step of removing an officer of the board from that position against their will. It has happened twice now in four years and it is a fact that both times it was white board members moving against a black board member.

Absurd or not, there are the facts but let me stipulate that you would know better than i. However, there is some additional context here.

The last African-American to ascend to the position of President of the New Rochelle Board of Education was Jerome Smith, the man most responsible for bringing to New Rochelle the bearded debacle known as Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak. I have yet to find anyone on the board, current or former, or in the cabinet who would defend the hiring of Organisciak. Had you remained in position as VP and then ascended to the presidency, it would be you running the board when it came time to vet a candidate for the position (Organisciak will be out in 2014; the search for a replacement will begin next year). I am aware that this also played a factor -- that Smith did a terrible job and they were worried what sort of job you would do. If it is all a coincidence that Smith, Watkins and Hastie are African-Americans so be it. I would, however, also point out another fact. That by tradition the next in line to be VP was Valerie Orellana or Lianne Merchant. Merchant is also an African-American and yet she was passed over for Deidre Polow. Again, this may all be coincidence as you seem to believe and I am willing to accept that as you are on the board and I am just a casually informed outsider. After all, what could I possible know about all this :-)

We do agree that the board seeks to operate in secret and either falsifies, twists or buries certain data that is not flattering to the district, right?

Now here is where I need some help. I believe the reason why the board attempts to operate in secret, falsifies or buries data like graduation rates, VADIR reports, minority enrollment in AP/Honor classes, participation in PAVE, covers up criminal wrong-doing and malfeasance, will not tell the public what it knows about Resolution 12-266-1 or that the board is secretly planning to get rid of Aramark and why, has everything to do with maintaining the image of the quality of the New Rochelle school system where "quality" is understood in the context of making the public schools attractive to affluent, almost entirely white, North End residents (the 10804 and 10538 demographics are BOTH a higher percentage "white" than even Scarsdale). This is what is being referenced when board members and the administration justify their actions as being for the "greater good" - attracting and retaining white/affluent students results in higher test scores, increased graduation rates, greater parental involvement, a stronger PTA and more fundraising, more stable home values, more stable property tax revenue and the like, all of which, ultimately, benefits all residents and all parents with children in the schools and, of course, the students themselves.

Am I wrong that this special desire to attract and retain white/affluent students is informed by the ample literature which attests to the idea that there is a tipping point in schools as they approach majority minority status and that upon reaching that tipping point, around 40-50% minority, the school population will quickly go to 75-80% minority and that once this occurs it takes decades, if ever, to reverse? And this is a function of the historical and pervasive practice, observed nationally, of white/affluent families pulling their children out of the public schools and placing them in private/parochial schools at or near this tipping point.

In fact, hasn't this happened at Isaac and the Isaac feeder schools? Wasn't this also happening at ALMS and some feeder schools but arrested over the past 15 years? Did this not also inform the decision many years ago to make the two "borderline" Albert feeder schools into Magnet schools which thereby blocks the ability of Lincoln district children to opt to attend the former Albert feeder school closest to the Lincoln district (with the result that the Lincoln "open enrollment" kids largely end up at Trinity and thus Isaac even when Webster is their closest school). Is it not the case that there was a "boycott" at Barnard when it was a neighborhood school where white/affluent families pulled their kids out of the school and that one of the leaders of that boycott is a long-time board member? Barnard was closed, those kids were moved to Davis and Barnard re-opened later as a K-2 magnet school where kids return to their elementary district of origin for third grade (ie, not a feeder school to a specific middle school).

Is it not also the case that there are also things like language programs, magnet school programs, gifted and talented programs, special education programs, variances and classification of bi-racial children (like mine) which can be manipulated to increase or decrease the actual or reported demographics for a particular school? In my case, my children have been classified differently at different schools in order to achieve certain outcomes.

For example, when my youngest son was three we lived in the Barnard/Davis district. Because he was not speaking properly (or hardly at all) he was placed in the Speech program at Barnard. That spring he applied for the Barnard lottery. When my wife, who is hispanic, went to then-Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Freddie Smith's office she was told that to increase his odds of winning she should list my son as hispanic. She did but he was not accepted. At that point it was suggested that she submit an application for my son to the Barnard Head Start program and that to increase his odds of being accepted that she list our son as white. She did that and he was accepted and attended Barnard for another year. At the end of the year he went into K at Davis. So, in the course of a few weeks he was listed as hispanic for one program and white for another under the advice of school administrators.

Is there not also literature that supports the idea that lower income minority parents are less likely to be involved in the school and by definition have less education and that less educated parents are an indicator of lower academic performance of their children?

And certainly we can agree that there ARE racists, right?

Is there any sense on the board that while "none of us" are racists there are people out there who are racist and these people will not buy a house in a district where their children would attend a majority minority school or, if they do, that they will not send their children to the public school? I believe a past board member has been known to make an observation along these lines.

If my questions are misinformed or based on some misunderstanding then perhaps someone can enlighten me.

The problem becomes that while there may be no racists on the board, and certainly none think of themselves as racist, and some or all may even be part of some protected class under the law (pretty much anyone under 50 who is not white), could react to the perception of racism in others to support policies and board traditions, official and unofficial, that are intended to accommodate the racist views of others. In this case, could it be that the combined fears that white/affluent people would pull their kids out of the public schools, move away or not buy a home at all drives a need to address the potential or actual racism in others?

The question then becomes, if you adopt a course of action designed to appease racism in others where does that leave you as the agent of that course of action?

If that course of action includes a board tradition of suppressing dissent both inside the board, at board meetings and within the community then how might one view the decision to remove a board member on the grounds that they would not abide by the norms and traditions of the board to not to ask certain questions in public, not to provide questions in advance of the meeting, while putting administrators on the spot with pointed questions or otherwise rock the boat.

letsbefair on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 23:31
Title: Spin?

What is the official reason/ spin for the vote?

Bob McCaffrey on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 21:39

As Bob said, Jeff Hastie has been an outspoken critic of Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak. Many have been but they aren’t on the board and don’t speak up for fear of retribution and ridicule. Jeff has also been a person that is not just an empty suite. He has questions, seeks answers, and has independent thoughts and ideas. He wants to look for a change to the old ways of the Board of Ed. Become current and productive for the students and the taxpayers. Move forward like the cities around us that have changed their ways.

I have met Jeff Hastie several times over the years and saw that he had true thoughts of what needs to be done to improve our schools. That is why he got involved. To affect change, he faces an uphill battle regardless of color. It is more because he is not a yes man looking to stroke his own ego and status at the cost of taxpayers and more importantly, The Children.

Jeff, don’t give up the ship to soon. Hopefully help is out there. We need more Jeff Hastie’s to clear the decks of the infestation that is currently on Board and the Board of Education as well. We can’t keep throwing our tax money at a sinking ship.

I need a life saver!

Warren Gross on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 21:28

I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the Cox Report. I have seen some of the paths that Jeff Hastie has undertaken recently to bring a greater sense of accountability and business sense to the Board.

I am surprised that Chrissane Petrone would go along with this based on her past actions. What the hell is this; a palace coup/ Does standing out like a sore thumb given a background in finance and business hold Hastie in ill repute in this cabal of lawyers and educators who have demonstrated over a couple of decades that there is significant decline in district performance and a total and expensive incompetent at the helm.

Bob Cox's report and conclusions are his and are defensible. Mine are not that this is a racist action as much as one of total stupidity, crass disregard for community interest, and another example of the power of the entrenched community "enablers."

I have written to all City officials; mayor and council and shared some thoughts with others in political office and community leaders. It is our issue as a community and I am going to treat this one in a binary fashion.... here goes, is Jeff Hastie being treated as others who combat the lassitude and laissez faire of this barely functioning board, meaning unfairly... YES. Should he be held harmless, given encouragement by the community and city fathers to keep on representing the parents and children here.... YES. Should we allow this vote to take place.... NO.

Sometimes the character and ethos of a community can be expressed most eloquently when it does what i right for the greater good. If you support Jeff because minority members have been given short shrift by the board. I have enough prima facie evidence to say, maybe so. let things be. Should you emphatically stand up throughout New Rochelle and say, no this cannot stand; we need someone who is not in lock step with the music played here for decades.. Yes you should and must.

City Council has heard me, Noam Bramson has heard me state for years that it is literally self-defeating to ignore the functioning and membership of a school district and board if it has a business plan to attract commercial and residential investors. For God's Sake, why can't you see that elemental fact for what it is?

So, Jeff you know how to reach me. You have a supporteer. City fathers, you sure as hell know how to reach me, you have a supporter and an experienced urban, organizational planner and consultant. Mostly, you all have a citizen who will go the extra mile to help this community restore and rebuild.

Sacrificing Jeff Hsstie on the altar of stupidity is not the way to go.

Parents and students, you were eloquent on the lusty librarian, let's hear your voices on this.

On my way to Maine and return next week.

Abe Lincoln on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 16:13

I am always blown away how liberals can be bigots and get away with it. If a bunch of conservatives were doing this it would be on front page of newspaper. African Americans should stop voting 99% for liberals because they take them for granted.

Mr. Hastie made the mistake is using his mind and being objective - that is an impeachable offense on the New Rochelle school board.

Fifth Ave Guy on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 17:04

Why do you assume its the liberals?

Cox is the only one who brought race into the issue.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 18:45

How do you figure that I am "the only one" who brought race into the issue?

I am not sure what that even means.

Fifth Ave Guy on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 19:19

You wrote in the headline didn't you?

What else is someone supposed to infer when you write "white board members oust black NR BoE VP"?

The statement seems very racist to me, but I guess whatever creates "hits" for the site justifies the means.

But maybe, just maybe, the guy is incompetent or he has family issues to contend with or some other good reason that he might need to be relived of his duties, but to just assume & write a headline that this is about black & white without any substantiation seems crazy to me.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 21:20
Title: speculation

Fifth,

You have been reading and commenting on this site long enough to know that when I write a story I am writing based on reporting from documents and sources. You are engaged in transference. You are applying to me and others your lack of knowledge about the situation. Just because you don't know what's going on here does not mean that I don't.

Mr. Hastie is not being removed as VP because he is incompetent or has family issues or some other good reason. He is being removed because he was rocking the boat and not considered sufficiently deferential and did not "know his place". The question you should be asking is WHY do board members, and their supporters in the community, not want the boat rocked? What is the status quo that they want to protect?

I am curious how you come to the idea that my headline is racist? That is a bizarre statement. You think it is being racist to point out the fact that for the second time in four years the board is removing a black VP.

In this case, the specific purpose is to prevent Hastie from becoming board president. I find it to be unseemly. You are free to disagree.

OldTimerNR on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 22:40

First off, it's a great technique to attract the wider news media and make the issue racism. Also very smart to spin the facts and say there is fraud happening. But Cox, you destroy your credibility as a worthy news source and your hits and interest will be greatly diminished by false reporting. Obviously, you're a conservative and that is the base of people you're writing to. Anything the conservative tea partiers can do to destroy public education is of course worthy news. The fact is with so much technology today, people have come to know what is and what is not bs. This pal, is BS, and you'll realize one day the end result is the well being of the children of this city, while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayer. Maybe Mr Hastie needs to better understand how an extremely successful school board functions. Hopefully this is a learning lesson and not one of anger and a self diminished role. He's obviously a smart guy and got into it to help the greater good.

Martin Sanchez's picture
Martin Sanchez on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 23:39
Title: Question

How does "an extremely successful school board member function"? Is it by lying or keeping so quiet one resembles stupidity? Is it by forgetting why you are on the board - i.e, it's about the kids and the teachers and not petty political machinations? Obviously Old Timer, you seem to wish to play by unethical rules. And you know there are more progressive people out there, like me, who object to the dirty politics that has infused our BOE? Change is necessary and old timers on the BOE need to leave. They have lost touch with New Rochelle. The board does not practice what we try to teach our kids in civics lessons. Yes, we we know the world is not perfect or kind, but some of us strive to make this place a better place for our kids and grandkids. So sad you are so angry!

Fifth Ave Guy on Wed, 07/04/2012 - 01:33

The statement was about the board, not board members and I'd say an extremely successful school board would run their district in such a fashion that it provides the tools for all to be academically successful while not over burdening the taxpayer. NR does neither.

And I don't know if OldTimer is angry or not but I'm not particularly happy that my property taxes are on an UNSUSTAINABLE growth spiral and nobody seems to give a GD, especially our elected officials. They love to pay the blame game while never providing solutions.

OldTimer's also got a point about some of these absurd headlines and stories. It's all about credibility & every time 1 of these headlines goes up the other side solidifies their grip on NR while the opposition remains a dysfunctional leaderless and not much better mess. Is it any wonder only 20% of the electorate voted last November? That means that 80% of all registered voters couldn't be bothered to participate at all. What a shame!

Andrew Newman on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 15:09
Title: Payback

There are many issues at play in this situation. One of those issues is payback.

It is no secret in certain circles within the City that Jeffery wanted new blood on the BOE. He felt that David Lacher had been on the BOE far to long and asked him not to seek another term. When Lacher refused Hastie attempted to recruit candidates to challenge Lacher in the May school board election. This attempt to oust Hastie from his leadership position is clearly payback for this action.

As Mr. Cox stated in his recent comment on this thread term limits for the BOE are needed. In this situation term limits would have prevented this from occurring.

Rogers914 on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 14:14

Still seems self serving if the board decides on the Pres and VP. Again, why even bother to aks NR residents to vote if the majority in the BOE keeps THEIR majority in the position which seems to be the only influential one! it is like asking the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate to choose next President and VP !!!

Citizen Observer on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 12:43

How Many years Has Mary Jane Reddington been on the Board?
How Many years have our scool taxes gone up above the inflation rate?
When will the good citizens of New Rochelle wake up?
Mary Jane Reddington. Time to retire!
Hastie gets my vote to stay!

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 13:30

Mary Jane Reddington's current term ends in 2013. She has indicated that she intends for this to be her last term. The board has submitted her name for an award from some agency involved with school boards to honor her for her service. There have been other indications that support the idea she is in the midst of a "victory lap" and that this current school year will be her last on the board after 6 terms (30 years).

The NR BoE is the poster child for why term limits are worth considering. There are problems with them but the idea that you have board members serving 5 and 6 terms of 5 years per term is troubling. Further, almost every district in Westchester has 3 year terms.

It would seem to me that 3 year terms and 2-3 term limits may be necessary in New Rochelle given the low voter turnout in school elections. The other alternative is to hold the board elections (not necessarily the budget) in November. There may be an argument for holding the budget vote in May since the budget goes into effect in July; the only argument for holding the board election in May is that the voting machines are set up to accommodate the state requirement to vote on the budget in May. That argument fails when you consider that the voting machines are also already set up in November. If the machines have to be set up in May and November anyway then there is no added expense to having board member elections in May or November. I say have them in November when you have a much higher turnout.

BTW, anyone who voted last last week in the party primaries knows that the machines get set up even when virtually no one votes so why should it matter that there be only one item on the line in a May election?

Rogers914 on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 12:35

How ridiculous!!! what is the point of having the community vote for board members, only tomhave the board oust anyone that disagrees with them!!! Change only occurs thru challenge of opinions...I guess, like many things in New Rochelle, the "powers to be" don't want change, disagreement or anything which may "ruffle their feathers". Ever wonder why New Rochelle is the only lower westchester city which has not moved forward...check out White Plains, Yonkers, Portchester...for a city which is so diverse, and attracts people of all ethnic and financial backgrounds, it seems we just can't agree on anything and remain stuck with the past....will we ever move forward...will we keep ousting any one who attempts to question and bring a "breath of freshness" ?
KEEP JEFFEREY HASTIE,! We voted for him!!!! donsen't our vote count!!!! We should decide who sits on the Board of Ed. NOT the Board Members!!!!!

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 12:51

Mr. Hastie will remain on the board. He will not be an officer of the board.

As noted above, the traditional practice is for the BoE president to ascend to that position after serving as VP. So, being removed as VP is akin to be denied the presidency. Another New Rochelle practice is that the board defers to the president on all matters and only the president speaks for the board and it is the president that interacts with the administration.

That Ms. Polow will become the VP is startling as well. There is a tradition of the newer board members coming up through the ranks. With Hastie being removed, for any reason, the practice would be for one of the new board members who has not been an officer to become the VP.

By past practice then, the person replacing Hastie should be Lianne Merchant (also African-American) or Valerie Orellana (who, despite her name is white/Jewish) not hispanic. What is NOT common practice at all is for a board member who has been on for decades to be recycled as an officer.

The entire situation is a discombobulation of past practice except for one new "tradition" -- removing serving Vice Presidents who are African-American.