New Rochelle Schools Deserve Better- Hear Our Concerns!

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What Happened?

  1. On 6/28, the last day of business for the school district, at approximately 11:30am, the Board of Education sent an email alerting the community that a new superintendent would be announced at a special BOE meeting at 3pm.
  2. At approximately 2:15pm on 6/28, there was a perfunctory meet-and-greet where community leaders were introduced to the soon-to-be-announced superintendent. This was their first opportunity to
    learn the identity of the pending appointee. This meet-and-greet lasted about 10 minutes.
  3. At approximately 2:50pm on the same date, the interim superintendent, Dr. Magda Parvey, wrote an email to the administrative staff resigning for personal reasons effective November 1, 2019.
  4. During the following BOE meeting, which began late due to Dr. Parvey being suddenly called away, Dr. Laura Feijoo was appointed as superintendent of New Rochelle schools. Her start date is November 1, 2019, allowing her to complete 30 years of service with NYCDOE.

What do we want?

This selection of Dr. Feijoo represents another failure on the part of the BOE to identify a school leader to help unite and move the entire district forward. During a post-BOE meeting on July 2, a group of concerned citizens requested that the NRBOE:

1) Withdraw the offer of employment and/or encourage Feijoo to withdraw her candidacy.

2) Create a more transparent process, including a community committee, to help vet future superintendent selections.

Context matters. While Dr. Laura Feijoo may be a highly qualified instructional leader, she is simply not the right choice for New Rochelle at this time.

Why do we feel this way?

On May 28, 2019, just a month prior to her appointment, Dr. Feijoo was one of three women who filed a lawsuit against NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza for $90M, charging he is biased against whites. More specifically, her suit alleges that she was demoted and replaced by less qualified candidates of color. 

This lawsuit further has divided our community when we need to be united together as one New Rochelle.  

NEW ROCHELLE IS AT A CROSSROADS

  1. Our district needs a culturally-sensitive, healing leader. There is an obvious mismatch between the CSDNR vision statement – “Embracing Diversity. Driving Success.” - and the selection of a superintendent embroiled in a “reverse discrimination” lawsuit. How can she embody the core principles of our district during a public battle with the largest school district in the country regarding
    merit and race?
  2. This appointment undermines the ability of our district to make hires that reflect the community and foster racial equity. Given that our population is over 70% students of color, our district requires leadership with sensitivity towards racial equity. Feijoo claims to have been “demoted,” though she ultimately retained her Superintendent title and salary. The chancellor did create another tier of leadership above hers; those Executive Superintendent positions included both white and non-white appointees. Feijoo was just not one of them.                                                                       

 

As Feijoo was coping with the restructure of her department, CSDNR experienced:

  • the tragic death of a white student at the hands of a black student, followed by the stabbing of two other students both off campus and at-school
  • the firing of the former superintendent who had authored our current strategic roadmap, which outlines policies to promote diversity in hiring
  • the publicly pressured buy-out and dismissal of the former African-American high school principal
  • sustained open critiques of African-American and Latinx department chairs as being unqualified
  • a newly adopted and controversial residency verification program, driven by community outcry to purge those “students who don’t belong” from our district
  • a heated and still unresolved public debate regarding whether we need armed school resource officers to help police our secondary schools
  • the loss of at least five other administrators of color
  • the recent loss of the two African Americans in cabinet positions at CSDNR (superintendent and assistant superintendent)

 

There is a palpable feeling of an attack on students, families, staff and administrators of color at CSDNR.

  • Many more feel frustrated, silenced, and ready to leave. In the words of one parent at the 7/2 meeting, it feels like the “bleaching of the district.” As another mother put it, the selection of Dr. Feijoo makes her worry that her children “will be unsafe” in our schools. Many others commented about how this was a slap in the
    face, especially considering the larger context of the state of our city.

HASTE MAKES WASTE

In the BOE’s scramble to right their failure to appoint a Superintendent, they admittedly failed to fully vet this candidate. They asked for our trust, yet failed to appoint a healing leader for all constituents.

At no time was the community’s input solicited regarding this superintendent hire. If asked, these concerns could have been properly aired and addressed in advance.

It is not the community’s fault that Feijoo was offered a million dollar landing pad here in New Rochelle. Concerned parents and taxpayers should not be blamed for asking the BOE to reconsider their decision.