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Board of Ed Seeks to Suppress Criticism of Superintendent Making False Statements to the Press

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Board of Ed Seeks to Suppress Criticism of Superintendent Making False Statements to the Press

October 29, 2008 - 18:40

At the board meeting on October 7, 2008, I read from prepared remarks about a disturbing incident which came to light here on Talk of the Sound at the New Rochelle Community Pulse blog. It was while making these "controversial" remarks that School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and board member David Lacher repeatedly interrupted my remarks on the grounds that the "privacy rights" of the Superintendent of Schools were violated. Please note that I was commenting on statements to the press by a public official where no such expectation of privacy exists.

The Journal News reported that two classes of students from Trinity were forced to walk the perimeter of the playground for about 25 minutes during recess one day during the spring of 2008. The parents who came forward complained this was a “group punishment”. Mr. Organisciak dismissed their concerns telling the paper it was “nothing more than a way to get in some exercise on a chilly day.”

Documents made public here reveal that the principal at Trinity School agreed with the parents and required the teachers involved to formally apologize for meting out a group punishment in a letter sent home to the parents. One of those documents is an email sent to Mr. Organisciak.

If the principal and the teachers at Trinity agree that this incident was a “collective punishment” then on what basis would Mr. Organisciak tell the press otherwise? Who else would HE really on for information about this incident other than the school principal and the teachers? The answer is no one. He knew full well what had happened. His statement to the press was knowingly false.

When the Superintendent makes false statements, especially when he does so publicly and in print in an attempt to discredit the legitimate concerns of New Rochelle parents, the trust relationship between parents and the District is seriously damaged.

Mr. Organisciak owes those parents a public apology. He owes all New Rochelle residents an explanation of why made a knowingly false statement to the press.

This City has to have trust in its leaders. Mr. Organisciak has violated that trust. He needs to make a good faith effort to set things right; if he is not willing to do so it raises serious questions about his fitness to lead.