City School District of New Rochelle Superintendent Boasts on the School Community Facilitator Position

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City School District of New Rochelle Superintendent Boasts on the School Community Facilitator Position

November 11, 2009 - 18:17

In an article written in District Administration, The Magazine of School Management in September 2009, titled 9th Annual Salary Survey: Administrator Roles Shift With the Times by Alan Dessoff, City School District of New Rochelle Superintendent, Richard Organisciak showcases the creation of the School Community Facilitator Position here in New Rochelle.

Under the heading of Family Issues Alan Dessoff writes the following:

Language and social integration issues in racially and ethnically diverse districts are largely behind the creation in many such districts of a school community facilitator position, as was the case in the City School District of New Rochelle (N.Y.), which established the position last September. “It had very much to do with the nature of our district,” which is about one-third white, 40 percent Hispanic and 25 percent African-American, says Superintendent Richard Organisciak. “We just didn’t feel that there was an active, involved connection between the district and the community,” he explains.

The New Rochelle district had previously struggled with being sure all families had access to information they could understand about school events and programs, as well as access to someone they could go to with questions or complaints. The district needed an “ombudsman-type” person, a “point person who could field the types of questions and concerns that community members had,” Organisciak says.

To fill that role, New Rochelle hired Camille Edwards-Thomas at a salary close to $70,000. A mother of three children in the district, she has a master’s degree in supervision and administration, has taught in local schools, and has been a member of local community groups. “If somebody has a concern about a particular school situation, or possibly a legal matter of some sort, she’s available to talk with them and offer some direction,” Organisciak says. He adds that she also attends, “to the extent possible,” all school board meetings and every parent-driven or community-sponsored event, like parades and award ceremonies. In effect, she is “a PR person for the district. That’s an added benefit,” he says.

"Right now it's an evolving position, and it's gaining visibility and respect." -Richard Organisciak, superintendent of schools, City School District of New Rochelle (N.Y.)

Edwards-Thomas also helps resolve issues ranging from disagreements among faculty members over district procedures to student disciplinary problems. With faculty, “she gets into the middle of it and tries to bring the parties together. We don’t want it to become a union matter or an administrative matter where we have to step in at a higher level,” Organisciak says. With student issues, “before it gets to the point of a suspension hearing, she tries to work through it with the family,” he adds. “It’s a broad range of things. It’s only a year old and may not be the way to go on some of those issues. Right now it’s an evolving position, and it’s gaining visibility and respect,” he says.

We wrote about this position before in September of 2008 City School District Creates New Position- School Community Facilitator and District Conducts Interviews for School Community Facilitator.

If anyone is wondering how to utilize the services of this person, you may get more information at theCity School District of New Rochelle website School Community Facilitator page. Good luck with that.

There are 3 Comments

Mrs. edward thomas is not qualified to be in this position. She is clueless to the happenings in the community. No one ever goes to her with any issue. She has served as the judge and jury for all student expulsions and superintendent hearings since she started. She was hired because her husband worked with Richard Organisciak in NYC. Nepotism at its best.

Robert Cox's picture

Organisciak says "“We just didn’t feel that there was an active, involved connection between the district and the community,” he explains." and " In effect, she is “a PR person for the district."

Excuse me?

First, the district already has a PR person. Her name is Maggie MacNichol-Skau and she is paid over $91.000 a year for this.

Second, there are myriad connections between the district and the community. All of the school board members are elected from among the community, every school building has an active PTA group, the high school basketball and football teams are well-supported by the community, local youth sports programs almost all use school district facilities. The problem is not that there is not a connection between the district and the community but that there is not a connecting between Organisciak and the community.

Third, as a member of the community, someone who has lived her for years, who has raised his kids here, who has raised many questions or complaints, and who attends almost every board meeting, I would not know Camille Edwards-Thomas is she bit me on the arm. I have never heard her presented at a board meeting, if she has been present she has heard me raise dozens of questions and never once approached me afterwards to offer her assistance.

Fourth, last I heard Camille Edwards-Thomas spent her time handling Superintendent Suspension hearings which appears to be the real reason she was hired, to relieve Organisciak of a responsibility he finds onerous.

That Organisciak describes her both as an ombudsman and a PR person is telling. An ombudsman is supposed to be "a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing the broad scope of constituent interests" whereas a PR person is a "a person employed to establish and promote a favorable relationship with the public". In other words, an ombudsman represents a constituency in dealing with an organization whereas a PR person represents an organization in dealing with a constituency. They are polar opposites but in the many-splendored mind of Richard Organisciak the same person can do both jobs at the same time.

If there is a Camille Edwards-Thomas siting at some public event someone please take a picture.

I don't think that she does! I wonder if she has attended any hispanic family events? The annual hispanic family meeting at the High School in the middle of october - over 200 families. Where was Mrs. Edward Thomas? Where were the school Board members? Oh, yes, Ms. Petrone came in a rush, from her school paid outing in New York City and read a 3 minute speech and went back to NYC. Didn't have the courtesy to stay around to answer questions or attend the work-shops. Where was Ms Edward Thomas! And that Meet the teacher night at the HS, where was Ms Edward Thomas? Hey Mr. Organisciak, why did you hire this person since we don't see her doing things you claim she should be doing? If she is not, then fire here - we could use the savings.