NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Welcome to the administration of New Rochelle Board of Education President Lianne Merchant – where free speech goes to die and all dissent will be crushed. In her first act as the newly elected senior board President, Merchant waited until the last minute to unveil sweeping changes to board policy that eliminates any guarantees of public input into school board meetings as what can only be seen as a prelude to eliminating entirely any public involvement in school board meetings.
Beset by criticism over an unfolding story of corruption and incompetence on its watch, and infighting among its own members, the New Rochelle Board of Education last night proposed to “solve” that problem by severely curtailing public engagement during school board meetings.
THE NEWLY GUTTED POLICY: 9340 Public Participation in Meetings_REV_Track Changes
There are currently numerous criminal investigations going on concerning school district employees, the recent Board President was deposed after he was found to have misappropriated $13,000 to pay for his personal medical insurance, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the District asserting the District lied to investigators after wheel-chair bound students were left behind during a fire at the local high school, the District was issued fines and violation notices related to an asbestos exposure incident at an elementary school after an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor which also found the district never checked the license of its asbestos abatement contractor (the license was forged), the District’s business manager (since fired) paid out millions of dollars to contractors with no-bid contracts and invoices lacking required documentation, filed phony documents during a New York State Comptroller Audit, and in a report to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and lied repeatedly about a $3.5 million dollar environmental services contract that was never drafted or signed.