NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- For New Rochelle School Security Officer Paul Sarachelli, last night's New Rochelle - Mount Vernon boys basketball game represented his biggest security challenge since his promotion to 2011 following the "unexpected resignation" of former Security Officer Rolf Kohler. Talk of the Sound attended the game to evaluate the overall security and Sarachelli's performance, in particular.
In past year's the boys basketball games between New Rochelle High School and Mount Vernon High School have had significant security problems ranging from fights in the stands to weapons brought into the gymnasiums. Last year there was a report of a youth brandishing a firearm but a search failed to confirm that report. Last night there was a report of "shot's fired" on North Avenue near Mayflower Avenue which was determined to be "unfounded/fireworks". Tensions are always high for this game whether held in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon.
Last night security was well run. There were no reported incidents in the gymnasium or the area around the school.
Entry to the building was through the black iron gates on Clove Road. Entry to the gymnasium was restricted to four side doors. The interior access to the gymnasium was closed off with yellow caution tape and 2 security guards. Once the game began access to the building was narrowed to a single door. Groups of 10 at a time were allowed in to the door, controlled by a New Rochelle Police Officer and a school security guard.
Inside the building, both in the foyer outside the gymnasium and inside the gymnasium itself there were several security guards, a New Rochelle police officer and a captain from the New Rochelle Fire Department. The flow between the exterior door and the gymnasium was well-managed. Once inside the gymnasium spectators were funneled into the stands on the West side of the gym. From time to time students gathered in small groups near the doors but were quickly ushered away.
The big test was exiting the crowd after the game. As Mount Vernon expanded their lead in the close two minutes, some spectators began to leave early which helped with crowd control. Security guards and police created a perimeter along the sidelines as the game came to a close and directed spectators towards four exit doors. The spectators, mostly students, were orderly and cooperative. Many of the security guards engaged in banter with the spectators as they moved down the line, towards the doors.
Spectators congregated immediately outside the exterior doors but were ushered away by school security guards. There was an additional police presence as the game ended and the crowd exited the building. Police officers did not actively assist in dispersing the crowd. Instead police parked their vehicles throughout the area, gathered as a group near the black iron gates, and otherwise announced their presence.
By an unofficial count there were 14 school security guards, 2 police officers, 1 fireman and 3 house principals working security, mostly remaining within the gymnasium. The security movements were well-coordinated and interactions with spectators forceful yet amiable.
There has been some internal criticism that School Security Director Bruce Daniele was not in New Rochelle for the game. In addition to his security responsibilities, Daniele has coached several sports teams. He is currently the head coach of the girls's basketball team which played a game in Mount Vernon at the same time the boys were playing in New Rochelle. There was some board level discussion last spring about the conflict between Daniele's security responsibilities and coaching responsibilities.
Since he came to work for the school district, Daniele has had a total income well in excess of $1 million and for most of that time has been one of the mostly high compensation public sector employees in the City of New Rochelle topped only by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak and members of Organisciak's cabinet at the Assistant Superintendent Level.
Daniele was initially hired as a twelve-month Civil Service employee with a salary was in the mid-$70,000 range after his retirement from the New Rochelle Police Department. Daniele was well-known to the school district as a youth officer for the police department and his work for the D.A.R.E. program. Unbeknownst to many in New Rochelle, Daniele was also actively involved with a group of officers who participated in a fantasy football league coordinated through a web site laced with pornography which promoted gambling including illegal "box betting". The stakes involved were large. Daniele's box-betting group wagered over $40,000 in a single season. The web site operated for 10 years but was shut down after a Talk of the Sound expose.
Today, Daniele is paid a current annual salary as Director of Security of $116,885. By his job description, Daniele has security responsibilities on a "24/7" basis and as a "12 month employee" does not get summer's off like teachers. Daniele earns additional income in the form of coaching stipends and overtime during the summer. He is also provided a school district car, one of only two employees to have a "company car". The other is Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak.
Among his other duties, Daniele has been the golf coach at New Rochelle High School for many years. Among his golf "buddies" has been Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak. Daniele and Organisciak have played golf during school days, sources say. Several years ago, Organisciak was observed receiving a golf lesson from Daniele on the New Rochelle High School football field during the school day.
Organisciak has recommended significant salary increases for Daniele since he became Superintendent. Daniele's total compensation is in excess of $150,000 a year. For many years Daniele was also receiving his full pension as a New Rochelle police officer by virtue of Richard Organisciak filing false 211 waiver applications with New York State. In New York State, retired public sector workers can only earn $30,000 a year and continue to receive their full pension. By obtaining a "211 waiver" Daniele was able to receive his full pension in addition to salary, stipends, overtime and perks like the car for a combined annual income well over $200,000.
Under New York State law, 211 Waivers are only available for unexpected, temporary filling of positions. Daniele was filling an expected opening on a permanent basis and has held the position for years.
The current job description for Director of Security requires that the candidate have between 2 and 4 years of supervisory experience working in law enforcement. Daniele's only work in law enforcement was with the New Rochelle Police Department. According to New Rochelle Police Detective Captain Joseph Schaller, Daniele never rose above the rank of Detective and never had supervisory experience within the department.
In short, Daniele is not eligible for the position he holds and was never eligible for the 211 waivers he obtained through Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak. Despite board concerns, Organisciak has privately communicated to board members that so long as Organisciak remains, Daniele will be permitted to coach sports teams regardless of any conflict with his primary security responsibilities.