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December 11, 2019
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Schools

Dr. Laura Feijoo
Dr. Laura Feijoo Photo Credit: Provided

Group Hires Law Firm For Action Against New Rochelle School Board In Hiring Superintendent

A coalition of New Rochelle residents and community leaders is suing the New Rochelle Board of Education, challenging its selection of a new superintendent.

The Collective New Rochelle hired a Westchester law firm to bring legal action against city's school board for the appointment of Laura Feijóo as superintendent of New Rochelle schools.

The Board of Education announced in June that  Feijóo would take over the position effective Friday, Nov. 1.

The Collective New Rochelle includes past and current presidents of the New Rochelle NAACP, Kathryn Minaya, a community leader and parent, as well as other leaders and residents who oppose the appointment of Feijóo, according to the law firm's announcement. A central issue is that Feijóo is a reverse discrimination plaintiff in a $90 million lawsuit against the City of New York Department of Education, her previous employer.

They are asking the court to overturn the appointment, appoint a citizen advisory commission and terminate Feijoo's contract.

In a statement, the New Rochelle school board president said, "The Board of Education does not feel that Dr. Feijóo’s lawsuit disqualifies her, nor do we think that it negates her impressive and well-documented body of work over 30 years."

The St. Paul Law Firm will represent the Collective New Rochelle in a lawsuit against the New Rochelle School District. A legal complaint filed this past weekend contends that the school board ignored its policy to establish a citizen advisory committee for the engagement of a superintendent. Instead, the school board created a new process that limited the community’s participation in the selection of the superintendent, according to the group.

“This legal action was necessary because of a total disregard of the New Rochelle Board of Education to value the sensibilities of the community in which they were elected to serve,” said Minister Mark McLean, president of the New Rochelle, NAACP.

“With the New Rochelle School District predominately serving children of color, the last thing it needs is a leader who challenges the competency of diversity,” said Richard St. Paul, principal attorney at the St. Paul Law Firm. “It is hard to imagine that the school board would hire a person who claims in her complaint against the City of New York that her colleagues of color were either unqualified or too inept to fill her previous position in the Department of Education.”

The New Rochelle Board of Education President Amy Moselhi issued this statement to support the board's decision:

"The New Rochelle Board of Education is committed to the success of the school District and each individual student we serve. The hiring of Dr. Feijóo was based on her 30 years of service to students and her dedication to equity. Among her impressive credentials, Dr. Feijóo has served as an assistant principal, principal, and senior superintendent overseeing all 46 superintendents in New York City. She also served in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Equity and Access, where her work focused on ending long-standing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities by addressing opportunity gaps that exist among historically under-served students. We are confident that Dr. Feijóo shares our community’s values and commitment to 'Embracing Diversity: Driving Success.' It is our priority is to translate these shared values into tangible, visible actions.

"The Board takes its responsibility as the governing body that hires the superintendent very seriously. The community was invited to be involved in ways that we believe enriched the process. Our search consultant, Dr. Harold Coles, held a Town Hall meeting at Isaac E. Young Middle School so that members of the community could share their thoughts and priorities as it relates to the desired attributes of a future superintendent. Dr. Coles then held meetings with various focus groups. These groups included, but were not limited to, union representatives, teachers, administrators, staff, central administration, and clinicians. This data was used to formulate the “job description” and other criteria.

"The Board of Education does not feel that Dr. Feijóo’s lawsuit disqualifies her, nor do we think that it negates her impressive and well-documented body of work over 30 years.

"Dr. Feijóo and the Board will work with all members of our community to ensure that the ideals we value are always at the center of the work we do. We need stability. The BOE has listened to the community and Dr. Feijóo has met with those who have asked to meet her. We respect the opinions of all community members and our decision to support Dr. Feijóo is governed by our steadfast commitment to the students and their right to an excellent, equitable education founded on the principals of access for all. As she beings the hard work of the District, we the Board of Education will partner with all stakeholders to ensure that the administration and Dr. Feijóo is held accountable through SMART (Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals.

"The Board is interested in outcomes. We are excited to begin the real work, which is student-centered. New Rochelle is a special place. This community feels deeply, is active and articulate and poised to help us create the city we all envision. The BOE welcomes Dr. Feijóo November 1st and recognizes that the real work, enriching the educational experience, quality and access for all students, lies ahead. We are ready to do the work in service of our student body and remain committed to public education at its finest."

The Collective plans to meet Monday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at Bethesda Baptist Church, 71 Lincoln Ave. in New Rochelle.