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Rochester City School District Board of Education: The Leadership Crisis Deepens

Howard Eagle

Rochester City School District Commissioners Cynthia Elliott and Beatriz LeBron should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to convince the public that the major reason why swindler-‘stooperintendent' Carmine Peluso suddenly decided to leave the decrepit, dysfunctional Rochester City School District is because of undue pressure and so-called "disrespect" on the part of two of the RCSD's seven Board members, (see the first reference link below).


The RCSD Board President and Vice-President made the unsuccessful attempt to deceive the public on the March 28, 2024 episode of neo-super-liberal Evan Dawson's Connections radio program.


Peluso announced, Tuesday, he was moving on to the much 'greener,' smaller, more organized and much more successful, lily-white pastures of the Churchville-Chili Central School District.


In this particular case, super-conservative radio-show-host Bob Lonsberry got it completely right regarding the biggest reason why Peluso decided to leave (see the second reference link below).


Many are saying that board President, Cynthia Elliott has been acting downright, unbelievably-slavish regarding this whole debacle. For example, she didn't have the intestinal fortitude to give a straight answer to the first question that was put to her during the radio program interview.


Dawson asked her when did she find out that the 'stooperintendent' was leaving? She danced all around the question, talked about where she was (physically) at the time when she found out; how she went into "shock," and then she launched into a lengthy diatribe about how great the 'stooperintendent' is. Yet, she did not have the intestinal fortitude, nor the integrity to tell the listening audience (even though it had already been widely reported by mainstream media) that 'stooperintendent' Carmine Peluso and the lily-white leadership of Churchville Chili School District were so disrespectful to herand especially to the children and families of the Rochester City School Districtthat they informed her less than an hour before the announcement was made public.


As part of her silly, incoherent, diatribes, she attempted to peddle a wild idea that she has been spewing for some time now. "At some point, if you wanna work with kids, you've got to learn how to transition from being a radical advocate to being able to govern on behalf of our kids." WHAT???!!! What in the heck is she babbling about?

She's making it up. How in the world can a Board of Education Commissioner's position as a so-called "radical advocate" for that which children and families need, possibly be in conflict with "being able to govern on behalf of our kids?" Again I ask, what in the world is she babbling about? In fact, in the process of so-called "governing", part of the duties and responsibilities of Board Commissioners includes being "radical advocates" on behalf of children and families—especially those who are suffering the most! The two functions are NOT mutually exclusive. So, she really needs to cancel that silly noise.


The other board member was (at times) spewing rhetoric that was as weird, incoherent, and abstract as it could possibly be. At one point she declared "there is this sort of transition that sort of happens…  eventually you do have to figure out how to be an effective, governing board member to get things done—otherwise they're just there, sort of disrupting good people from doing the actual work, versus just disrupting bad work happening from bad people. It’s just like you're sort of defeating the purpose."


WHAT???!!! ... WHAT???!!! First of all, based on the overall conditions in the RCSD, apparently NONE OF THEM have so-called "figured out how to be an effective, governing board member." Otherwise, how could the overall, horrendously decrepit conditions that exist possibly have continued (for decades)? So the first part of the quote is nonsensical. Its content includes the most fundamental type of contradiction in which the speaker is undoing her own argument.


The remainder of the quote is so silly that it even prompted the neo-super-liberal host to exclaim: "Some of what listeners are hearing from the Vice-President and the President of the school board may sound a little bit cryptic" --- a "little bit" --- is he kidding?


The board member who tends to be the most talkative of the two (all the time) laid out a scenario of what she claims is happening at the RCSD Central Office, which only a fool would believe. She claims that Commissioner James Patterson (though she didn't identify him by name) is "coming in everyday, holding office [whatever that means] next to [the 'stooperintendent's' office] to watch what he's doing, to question every conversation he's having, to physically interject, questioning everything that's happening, and it's a constant, constant thing 24-0-7 (whatever that means).

She then mentioned Commissioner Jacqueline Griffin (again, not by name), but everyone who has been paying attention knows she was referring to Commissioner Griffin - when she told Dawson: "Now imagine another person sort of coming into the mix, and that person is coming even more deranged, in my opinion, more deranged." In fact, the talkative board member babbles so much that she frequently gets the facts all jumbled up. For example, she claimed that the 'stooperintendent' was "with [them] as an interim for a year before he took a contract for the permanent position." That's categorically, completely, totally incorrect (see the fourth reference link below). He was appointed as permanent 'stooperintendent' a mere three months after taking the position as interim. And this woman has the nerve to talk about other board members spreading false information publicly? Really? We know the story about the pot and the kettle. Well, this is an ultra-classic example.


With regard to their deep-seated ineptness (if not incompetence), if nothing else gives these clownish, so-called "leaders" away, the manner in which they answered, or really didn't answer the vitally-important question that was raised by the first individual who called into the show is a dead give-away.


"David" called in and asked: "Can not the Board put in the contract for a superintendent who is hired, a financial disincentive if they leave the position prior to a certain time period?" The mouthy vice-president responded: I would love to. We've had these conversations in the past. Yeah, we're not allowed to, and also you know, it is a competitive space. So, we want to attract the best superintendent, and there will be other districts that will remove that, and they would go to much easier" (she didn't finish the thought).


Again, the blatant, internal contradictions are really quite amazing. She began by stating that they are "not allowed to," but never said why. Surely, she's not suggesting that they are not allowed by law to attempt to negotiate such a clause, as a condition of employment because if she is then she's either straight up lying or ignorant. And it does NOT require a "contract-law-specialist" (as the neo-super-liberal host suggested) in order to answer that simple question. Of course THERE IS NOTHING IN CONTRACT LAW THAT PREVENTS A SCHOOL BOARD FROM ATTEMPTING TO MAKE THE CALLER'S SUGGESTION A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT FOR A SUPERINTENDENT.


In such a situation, either the person or people who is/are negotiating on behalf of the applicant, will (I'm certain, based on conferring with the applicant) ultimately agree or not, period. The clear internal contradiction is that the excessive-talker turned right around and said: "...and there will be other districts that will remove that, and they would go to much easier."  Remove what? If they are "not allowed to"  then what is there to "remove"?


Also, with regard to "wanting to attract the best superintendent" obviously that has NOT worked out well for them—even in light of the lucrative contracts that they have signed with one shiesty superintendent after another—all of which have included golden parachutes, and none of the candidates have hesitated to pull the rip-cords. So clearly, the Board does NOT have much to lose. In fact the type of superintendent who would agree to such a condition may be exactly what's needed.


The caller followed up by explaining that his suggestion "is not a non-compete," as Dawson had suggested. Instead he noted that "they can take another job. All they would have to do is they would have to pay a certain amount of money if they do it." Again, Dawson attempted to suggest that the question would need to be answered by a "contract law specialist," which is sheer nonsense. As noted above, the question answers itself.


The talkative vice president responded to the caller by stating that she would "bring that back to [their] legal because that one [she] don't know, but [she] certainly is open to bringing that suggestion back. [She] personally thinks it's a great suggestion," which is even more confusing because she had stated from the outset that they've "had these conversations in the past." What is she saying, that they had the conversations without involving legal, or in the process of their so-called "conversations"this particular point wasn't raised? If that's the case then exactly and specifically, what did they discuss via "past conversations?"  The contradictions are stark.


The Board president attempted to skirt the important issue by noting that "However, if money is not the issue, and they're willing to pay it, if some other issue is going on, that may not be the right move to make in that regard," which makes zero sense. In fact the comment is not even appropriate or germane to the specific conversation, which I assume is why no one responded to her.


Her next comment almost caused me to fall out of my chair. I literally could not believe what I was hearing. She actually said that "Peluso is the greatest Superintendent that they have had since being on [the Board] for 18 years." Who does this woman think she' kidding? Peluso can't carry former Superintendent Jean Claude Brizard's dirty socks regarding depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise relative to urban education (not to mention those who served as Interims, such as Dr. William Cala). I get it that she's desperate to remove the political-egg from her misguided face, but her latter quote is utterly ridiculous.


The final person who called into the show asked is the "Rochester Board the highest paid, part time Board in the State?" Cynthia Elliot's initial super-arrogant response was: "What does that have to do with anything?" Then she launched into a diatribe in which she asserted that the fact that RCSD Board members "get a salary—which is far less than the work that [they] do—in no way correlates with the other statement that [the caller] made.”


The Rochester Board is the highest paid, part time Board in the State, and at the same time it's widely considered to be one of the worst school districts, if not the worst school district score wise—no correlation? Really???!!! What does that mean? Is she saying that as long as the Board is involved in busy-work (whether students are successful or not, doesn't matter), and they should continue to be the highest paid Board in New York (by leaps and bounds), and taxpayers should not question that reality? If not, then what (exactly and specifically) is she saying?


The final minutes of the disjointed broadcast shifted to the East High School / University of Rochester "EPO" arrangement over the past nine years, which the Board voted later the same evening to end. It was clear during the radio interview that they had planned to vote to end the program. However, near the end of the show, Elliott made a statement, which she has repeated numerous times. She declared that RCSD has "schools that have shown that they perform even greater than the East EPO.”


Presumably, she's referring to RCSD Early College High School (at least that's the only one that she has named), the one with less than 400 students.














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