UPDATED!:Dr. Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools ruled out renewing his contract, even on a short-term basis Monday night saying to WPCNR “It does not look like an option at this time.” He made this revelation in remarks to WPCNR after a School Board meeting that saw over 150 persons jam the All-Purpose Room at White Plains High School to plead with the School Board for his retention. Yanofsky said he already has been contacted with offers for new positions.
Dorothy Schere becomes the only Board Member to come out opposed to the Yanofsky ouster. Her statement was released Tuesday.
Larry Geiger, School Board Trustee, confirmed Yanofsky’s sentiment advising WPCNR “He (Yanofsky) has indicated to us he does not want to do that (come back).”
Approximately 25 persons spoke, criticizing the School Board dismissal of Yanofsky. The possibility the Board may have violated state education law was raised as grounds for a lawsuit to stay the Board decision.
However, any lawsuit would appear moot at this point. Yanofsky, walking to the parking lot, told WPCNR he has already received calls about new employment, though not as a superintendent of schools.
White Plains, Scarsdale educators to head search team
When the Board took up the regular agenda, the Board voted to hire officially a consultant to begin a search for a new superintendent, noting that the two persons in charge of the search are familiar with the educational dynamics of the White Plains-Scarsdale area.
Hazard, Young hired.
In a statement read to the public announcing the appointment of the search firm, Ms. McLaughlin said Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was “the largest and most experienced school executive search firm in the country and has been involved in almost 400 superintendent searches.”
She said that “Leading the search will be Dr. John A. Whritner and Deborah S. Raizes, two senior HYA associates with strong connections to Westchester and White Plains. They worked together on recent superintendent searchs in Tarrytown, NY and Norwalk, CT.”
First meeting Tuesday
The President of the School Board said they would be meeting with the consultants next Tuesday privately to discuss salary and set up a timetable, and that the public process would begin in January. Larry Geiger told the audience that all the consultants the district had interviewed said the school district was on a good timetable for a June hire.
McLaughlin said Dr. Whritner was a school superintendent for 25 years in Connecticut and Michigan, and had actually begun his career in the White Plains Public Schools. She said, that in his 14 years here, Dr. Writner had served as a teacher, principal of two schools and as Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools under the Anton administration (according to Dr. Saul Yanofsky).
The other consultant participating in the White Plains search is Deborah S. Raizes, a Scarsdale resident, who served for six years on the Scarsdale School Board as both Vice President and President with that body. She is Chairman of the Corporation of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a member of the Westchester Community College Foundation Board and of the White Plains Hospital Board of Trustees. She has been involved in over 25 superintendent searches with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.
Yanofsky will not be drawing up the “profile.”
Asked by WPCNR, whether Dr. Yanofsky’s input would be sought and used in developing a profile for the new superintendent with the search firm, Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education, said, aghast, that would be “inappropriate,” that it was the responsibility of the School Board and the School District cabinet. She said Yanofsky would not be part of the superintendent profile development with the consultants.
The acrimonious evening ended with the sobering knowledge that the school system in White Plains was going to change and would be going on without Dr. Saul Yanofsky after June 30, 2002.
Good News and Some Bad News from the accountants
More jolting was the knowledge delivered by the auditor of the school district, Les Storch of Bennett, Kielson Storch DeSantis & Company, that the budget year of 2002-03 was going to be severely impacted by cutbacks in state aid, a limited district general fund (it is $6.2 Million), lower returns on investment of school district funds, and dwindling returns on employee retirement funds requiring district attention. Storch said the board had ended last year (00-01)with a budget surplus of $1.2 million.
Tax relief claims up, too.
Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, added to the gloom by reporting tax certiory claims were already filed by seven parties in the amount of $350,000, and he did not know by how much this figure would grow.
Unusual statement by Schere
Regarding the Yanofsky matter, Dorothy Schere broke the code of silence on the part of the Board of Education on the Yanofsky decision by stating she did not support the removal, (the first Trustee to admit that there was discord on the Board). Obviously, emotionally hurt by the proceedings, and close to tears, Ms. Schere scolded the public for not attending school board meetings, or paying attention to district business or the school budget. Ms. Schere refused to release her written statement to WPCNR.
Board sees broad spectrum of White Plains including the kids.
Speaker after speaker came up in praise of Dr. Yanofsky, and expressed incredulity and outrage that the board did not bring up the differences with the community. One taxpayer brought up the fact that only parents received the board communications on the matter and said it was wrong of the board to only think parents cared about education.
Ironically, The President of the White Plains High School General Organization, Joanna A. Barnum, with her Secretary and Treasurer addressed the board, putting the controversy into perspective, saying that “As President of the G.O., I would never make a decision affecting the student body without asking the student body first.”
Petitions handed over
Althea Fusco delivered petitions signed by 1,162 persons demanding the Board reverse its decision. A representative of Centro Hispano presented petitions signed by 645 Hispanics supporting Yanofsky’s return.
Lawyer sounds omininous note
Steve Kass, a well-known town attorney raised the spectre of a lawsuit attempting to stay the Board decision during the Public Forum at the close of the School Board meeting. Kass said he sees the decision made in executive session as violating Section 17083 of the State Education Law.
He pointed to a case where a school board was overruled for having voted on a decision of a similar nature in executive session, which the court found illegal. Ms. McLaughlin’s contention was that the board did not vote in the Executive Session when Dr. Yanofsky’s fate was sealed, but had reached what she called “a consensus.”
Kass pointed out that Richard Bernstein a trustee was up for election in May, after the Board had decided to oust Yanofsky. He said that the public trust was deceived because persons might have voted differently or against Mr. Bernstein had they known of the Board Yanofsky decision that he had participated in.
Kass, when asked if he knew of a person, or persons preparing such a suit at the present time told WPCNR, “No comment.”
In other matters…
The board also voted to eliminate the turberculosis PCD test from school physicals, citing policies of the Westchester County Board of Health.
Ms. McLaughlin advised all that the next meeting of the Board of Education was November 26, when the school board would be taking up technology needs of the district, and, raising her voice slightly urged all to attend.