The Board of Directors approves the contract with DEI

ROME — The School Board of the City of Rome School District approved a request for proposals to enter into a contract with Access Global Group to lead the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion services at its meeting on Thursday. Board members also formally congratulated the students ranked in Rome Free Academy’s “Top 10” in the Class of 2022.

Among those who were praised was valedictorian Lauren Dorfman with a 102.28 GPA. Dorfman will attend the United States Naval Academy after graduation. The salutatorian, Dominick Cangialose, was honored for achieving a GPA of 102.06. Rounding out the Top 10 were: Lilyan Minicozzi, GPA of 101.06; Court Madison (100.28); Adriana Varano (100.26); Kelly O’Neill (100.19); Lillian Gilroy (99.61); Alexander Woodward (99.34); Jack Anderegg (98.93); and Ryan Davis (98.44).

The following RFA Spring Varsity Sports Teams and their respective Head Coaches were also commended by the Board of Directors for earning NYSPHSAA “Varsity Team” honors for maintaining a GPA of 90 or higher during the spring marking period: boys and girls golf; boys athletics; girls’ softball; and boys tennis.

Superintendent of Schools Peter C. Blake was keen to point out that while the evening’s commendation was for the scholar teams, the spring college season saw the most individual athletes from one of the three athletic seasons, 75, has achieved “Scholar Athlete” status, where maintaining a GPA of 90 or higher during their season is required.

FRG Stadium

Blake was briefed on the state of the RFA stadium where repairs are underway to prepare it for graduation. “There’s a ton of wood there,” Blake said. “They’re canceling the move.”

The district recently held a special meeting last week to approve a change to authorized costs under the 2019 capital project, which authorized an additional $126,063 to be spent on ‘installation of temporary shoring’ at the stadium. . The work, according to board chairman John Nash at the special meeting, is needed to ensure the stadium is ready to play its traditional role as host of the RFA’s annual launch ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 25.

In recent years, the facility has suffered from a series of incidents, including mold growth due to leaks in the stadium seating membrane and crumbling concrete in the seating area. The stadium stand was closed for most of the spring sporting season and the seating area sealed off to keep spectators away from the area.

Equity Task Force

Paul Fitzpatrick, former chairman of the board of directors, with six years in office, member of the equity task force and member of the executive committee of the NAACP of Rome, spoke on behalf of the point of the agenda of the day to be brought forward by Board Clerk Dr. Karen Fontana to approve the District’s award of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Services RFP to Access Global Group , the company that had provided these services for nearly two and a half years before its contract was not renewed for a third year with Chairman John Nash, Vice Chairman Tanya Davis and Fontana voting against approving contract.

“Our efforts have been recognized by the State Department of Education and the New York State NAACP,” Fitzpatrick said. “We were ahead of the game before there was a game.”

“A minority of three council members effectively ended three years of progress on what many consider to be a vital program for our district and our community,” Fitzpatrick said, “and it was done, again, without discussion.”

A circumstance eerily similar to that initial vote, where board member Anna Megerell was absent and board member Elena Cardwell-Redick abstained, prompting a 4-3 vote in favor that ‘AGG continues to do a favor for failing to meet the state’s requirement for a global quorum. This time, one member warned that he might have to leave the meeting early to attend a school event and another member, Danielle Lubecki, was unable to attend the meeting, perhaps only leaving – again. – only seven voting members.

“If you’re considering voting ‘no,’ you should be prepared to explain why, during the discussion period, it never happened in the first vote,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you plan to abstain, don’t. Make up your mind. If you’re not sure, vote to drop it. But don’t let another minority vote derail this vital program.

An awkward period of whispering between members and district staff ensued before the council invited the next person asking to make a public comment.

The second public comment was made by Mark Ambrose, who also spoke to the Council in April on behalf of his wife, who after teaching in the Rome City School District for 35 years, retired in circumstances involving a hearing impairment.

Ambrose and his wife objected to a pay difference at the start of his senior year, as well as two different retirement dates. He shared that he received no response from the board to his first call, and then a letter from a lawyer claiming to represent them in the case contained provable lies.

Ms Ambrose filed a complaint with the New York State Commission on Human Rights, accusing the district of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. “I hope it becomes a forum where it’s really independent and where justice is really done,” Ambrose said.

Nash thanked Ambrose for his remarks and responded only to say the board was not authorized to respond in cases involving outstanding legal issues.

Vote on the DEI contract

Board clerk Dr. Karen Fontana moved the only motion to approve the RFP, which would reinstate AGG’s DEI services with eight board members present.

Nash’s invitation to discuss the resolution was met with silence, followed by a 6-2 vote in favor with only Davis and Fontana opposed.

Shanelle Benson Reid, Ph.D., of Access Global Group, said, “I’m excited to be back at work! There is so much to do and I am honored to have been chosen to continue with RCSD.

Jackie Nelson, president of the NAACP in Rome, has always spoken out against the board’s termination of the AGG’s mid-school year, causing a slump in the services they had spent over the past two years and half to return. “I’m just so glad the school board voted the way it did so Access Global Group could come back and finish the job they started,” Nelson said.

People operations

The board approved nine resolutions put forward by Joe Mellace, chairman of the people operations committee, including, with their thanks for his service, the retirement of Robert Pexton, caretaker at Strough Middle School, and the approval of the term of office teachers and administrators: Michael Flagg (principal), Molly Mytych (principal), Brianna Plumley (psychologist), Cara Wojdyla (health), Tanya Bowe (mathematics), Jacqueline Pylman (art) and Carolann Miller (guidance)

The board also approved the hiring of six teachers – Faith Whitmore, special education, Bellamy ($51,440 prorated); Alexis Hammack, math, FRG, $64,140; Abby Carroll, social studies, Strough, $48,639; Aleksander Vernold, social studies, Strough, $50,839; Ryan Poore, social studies, Strough, $56,440; and Taylor Yerrick, science, Strough, $63,379. The board also approved the resignation of three teachers – Rebecca Ciotti, RFA; Jodi Marchione, Stokes; and Kaylee Gabriel, Gansevoort.

Members adjourned the regular meeting to proceed immediately to an executive session to discuss legal matters and conduct negotiations with the Rome Teachers Association.

Laura J. Boyer