New Rochelle School District Officials Deny Knowledge of Illicit Regents Exam Answer Sheet Despite Clear Evidence to Contrary

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New Rochelle School District Officials Deny Knowledge of Illicit Regents Exam Answer Sheet Despite Clear Evidence to Contrary

June 01, 2010 - 15:06

conetta-kent2.jpgAn investigator appointed by the Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education has concluded that he is unable to make a determination of wrongdoing by New Rochelle school teachers and administrators after school official denied any knowledge of the document at the heart of the investigation -- a "second" version of an exam answer sheet that had led the SED to launch the investigation this past February.

To read the entire cover letter, click on the excerpt below:

Monson Reporting Finding 1.jpg

Robert J. Monson, District Superintendent of BOCES Southern Westchester, reported to Assistant Commissioner David Abrams on Friday that he had questioned two administrators -- Joyce Kent, the Chairperson of the New Rochelle High School Science Department and Don Conetta, the Principal of New Rochelle High School -- both of whom told Monson they had no knowledge of the second answer sheet document. Abrams has since received documents conclusively demonstrating that much of the handwriting on the second answer sheet is, in fact, that of Joyce Kent.

Readers can judge for themselves by clicking the handwriting sample image below:

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It is a violation of SED policy to copy an exam sheet, alter an exam sheet, or remove an exam sheet from a testing center. In all, experts familiar with SED Regents Exam handling policies believe the district may have violated more than a dozen SED policies for the handling of Regents Exams -- and then lied about it. The New Rochelle Board of Education and Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak have been aware of the allegations since June 2008 and refused to take action against the district employees who appear to have committed fraud and made false statements to SED investigator, we well as Commissioner Abrams. In December, Conetta denied any knowledge of the second answer sheet to Abrams in a phone call, according to Abrams.

The Monson Report comes four months after Abrams announce that the State would investigate allegations that New Rochelle School teachers and administrators conspired to cheat on a State Regents exam in order to purposely lower a students score in order to cause him to fail a course to kill a "resolution agreement" intended to resolve allegations that the New Rochelle School District had violated the students civil rights. Superintendent Richard Organisciak and several current school board members are believed to have been part of the effort to cover up the matter.

The report also states that Conetta and Kent claim that the incorrect "lowered score" of 67 was a mistake by one teacher rating the test in June 2007 and that the mistake was caught "at the time" and the score correctly reported as a "74". Abrams has since received copies of internal district emails, report cards and a June 2008 email from Conetta to a different investigator, since retired, which clearly show that the 67 "lowered score" is the only score to ever appear on the students transcript for the June 2007 Chemistry Regents Exam. Another email, from June 2007, shows Kent informing another administrator in the district that the student had received a 67 on the June 2007 exam.

The entire matter stems from the systematic denial of the student's civil rights by Chemistry teacher Marissa Raniolo during the 2006-07 school year. Raniolo became enraged in June 2007 when Conetta and Yvette Goorevitch, Director of Special Education, devised a "Resolution Agreement" to settle all claims against the district. After Raniolo pitched a fit during the "Resolution Meeting", Conetta huddled with Raniolo and Kent and then proposed a caveat that the agreement would be contingent on the student taking the June 2007 Chemistry Regents and earning a grade higher than 65 for the course. Replacing the actual grade of 74 with the false grade of 67 is significant because the 67 caused the student to fail the course which Raniolo and Kent believed would kill the resolution agreement. In fact, the student had earned a passing grade in the class but this was denied at the time. As a result, there was an Impartial Hearing which lasted 9 months (most hearings take less than a day). The district has currently spent over $300,000 in legal fees defending Raniolo, Kent and Conetta in this case.

For readers not familiar with dealing with school officials, we recommend reading Top 10 Secrets of Effective Liars, an article from Psychology Today that quite aptly describes the behavior and methods of Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, New Rochelle High School Principal Don Conetta and other proven liars who are employed by the New Rochelle Board of Education.

There are 5 Comments

My kids came home from NRHS today and said that there is a circulating rumor that Marissa Raniolo has been fired. Do you know if this is true?

Robert Cox's picture

...if anyone deserves it, it would be her.

It seems that the rumors of her firing were just that -- rumors (which have seemed to have petered out).

This article about test inflation does not speak kindly of David Abrams, mentioned in your post above.

David Abrams, a high school English teacher who had spent ten years as an administrator in an Albany-area school district. Abrams’s curriculum vitae—apparently written hastily after I asked the education department for it—shows that he lacks professional credentials in education testing, statistics, and psychometrics. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, plus an administration M.A., which is required of every assistant principal in the state. One member of the Regents tells me that Abrams “has no qualifications for the job, and he’s responsible for many of our blunders on the tests.”

Here is the link to the article: