INVESTIGATIVE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS JUNE 15, 2009

Rachel M. Rissetto Consultant

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction 3
Question Presented 4
Background Information 5
Interview Process 6
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Introduction 11
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Conclusion 33
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Recommendations 40
Conclusion 50
E-Mail Content Attachment 1
Interview Summaries Attachment 2 2

INTRODUCTION

On April 1, 2009, the Board of Education of the Schenectady City School District adopted a resolution selecting me to serve as an internal investigator and render such services consistent in that capacity. The internal investigation was requested as a result of public allegations of workplace misconduct by a particular staff member, specifically, former employee Steven Raucci. In their resolution, the Board of Education indicated that they wanted a "comprehensive, transparent and trustworthy investigation."

Throughout this interview process, I spent in excess of 65 hours in the District conducting interviews and examining relevant documentation and information. Thirty five (35) individuals were interviewed, including but not limited to current and former employees, current and former Board of Education Members, Union Presidents, the Superintendent of Schools, Human Resources Administrator, and Assistant Superintendent of Schools. I requested that two specific current employees participate in the interview process however both respectfully declined at the advice of their Union Representative, and were therefore not interviewed.

A determination was made by me to exclude specific individuals from the interview process, including Mr. Raucci and any current or former

lawsuit or had filed a notice of claim the District.

In addition, I was provided with any and all documentation and/or information requested, including but not limited to over 10,000 emails to and from Mr. Raucci, grievance files, personnel files, payroll information and documentation, Board of Education Policy, Memorandum of Understanding, and applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements. Any and all formal complaints filed against Mr. Raucci and all supporting documentation were also provided at my request.

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QUESTION PRESENTED

I was directed by the Board of Education to investigate the following:

1. Did Mr. Steven Raucci engage in workplace misconduct, including but not limited to intimidation, harassment, retaliation, threats towards employees; did Mr. Raucci engage in inappropriate union activities on work time or direct his subordinates to do so, or direct employees to violate Board Policy or laws/regulations etc;?

2. If yes, who within the Schenectady City School District knew about the conduct; to what extent; and what if anything, did they do or not do to remedy the situation?

If the answer to number 1 above is yes, then:

3. What steps can be taken by the Schenectady City School District to ensure employees do not engage in workplace misconduct in the future, and if they do, how can the District ensure that appropriate steps are followed to immediately remedy the situation in an appropriate and timely fashion?

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

On March 6, 2003, Mr. Steven Raucci was appointed to the position of Head Utility Worker with the Schenectady School District. The Superintendent of Schools who made the recommendation was Mr. John Falco. At that time, Mr. Raucci served in the capacity of CSEA Unit President for the Maintenance and Operational Unit.

On February 20, 2009, Mr. Raucci was arrested by the New York State Police.

Effective February 20, 2009, Mr. Raucci was placed on administrative leave with pay by the Schenectady City School District. Effective March 2, 2009. Mr. Raucci was suspended without pay by the Schenectady City School District.

TIle Board of Education accepted Mr. Raucci's letter of resignation for purposes of retirement on March 18, 2009, effective April 15, 2009.

On April 1, 2009, I was appointed by the Board of Education to conduct an internal investigation regarding public allegations of workplace misconduct by Mr. Raucci.

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INTERVIEW PROCESS

At the commencement of each interview, I provided each interviewee a document prepared by me which outlined information relevant to the interview. The document provided information regarding the scope of the investigation, right to representation, confidentiality, retaliation, and my personal contact information. The document stated the following:

As you mayor may not be aware, I have been appointed by the Schenectady City School District to conduct and independent investigation of workplace misconduct allegations involving former employee, Steven Raucci.

In conducting such an investigation, it is imperative that I speak with individuals who may have pertinent information or documentation regarding potential workplace misconduct; intimidation; retaliation; harassment; etc. by Mr. Raucci, and if so, who if anyone in the District was aware of the conduct.

You have the right to have a representative with you. If you would like one, please let me know and arrangements will be made to have him/her present.

This matter is highly confidential, and I ask that you please not discuss the contents of the interview with anyone other than your representative.

Retaliation is prohibited against you and by you in regard to your participation in this investigation. If you believe you are being retaliated against because you participated in this investigation, please report that immediately to your union representative and/or immediate supervisor.

After all interviews are complete, and I have examined all relevant documentation, I will report my findings and recommendations to the Board of Education. The Board of Education has assured me that, to the extent the law allows and requires, names and confidential information will not be shared with the public. I have not reached any conclusions, nor will I until my investigation is complete.

I appreciate your cooperation in answering my questions and providing me with any and all information and/or documentation that may be pertinent in this investigation.

Thank you in advance for your participation and cooperation.

All interviews with CSEA Maintenance and

CSEA Labor Relations . alist Michael Nickson.

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opportunity to advise the employee during the interview nor was he given an opportunity to ask questions.

They were not given an opportunity to advise their client during the interview nor were they given an opportunity to ask questions.

Several individuals declined representation. Those individuals were advised by me that they were entitled to have a representative with them if they requested, and their declination at the commencement of the interview did not preclude their ability to request a representative at any time during the interview process .

• , I distributed a correspondence to approximately 120 members of the Maintenance and Operational Unit. The correspondence outlined that I had been appointed by the Board of Education to conduct an investigation regarding potential workplace misconduct involving former employee, Steven Raucci, and that ifthey believed they had information that would be pertinent to the investigation, to please contact me so arrangements could be made to discuss the information.

The memo stated the following:

As you mayor may not be aware, I have been appointed by the Schenectady City School District to conduct and independent investigation of workplace misconduct allegations involving former employee, Steven Raucci.

If you believe you may have information or documentation that may be pertinent to this investigation, please contact me as soon as possible so we can schedule a time to meet and review the information and/or documentation. I have also made arrangements to be in the District on May 1h and lfh and will be available to meet at any time. I will be located in the conference room in ShariGreenleaf's Office. If you contact me prior to May r. I will be more than happy to schedule a specific time to meet that is convenient to you.

Conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation requires that I rely on those individuals who have worked with Mr. Raucci or have been privy to information regarding his workplace conduct over the course of the last thirty years. I am relying on you to assist me in my efforts to resolve this issue so the District may move forward in a positive manner.

I look forward to assisting the District in this matter, and thank you in advance for your assistance in providing me the information necessary to conduct this investigation.

Thank you.

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Of the approximately 120 employees directly contacted by me, only two (2) individuals contacted me and requested a meeting. Those individuals were _ _ and 1 met with both individuals on May 7,2009, in the presence of their CSEA Representative, Michael Nickson.

In addition, a written request was made to all Unit Presidents within the Schenectady City School District for them to contact me to discuss any and all concerns that they or any of their members may have had regarding potential workplace misconduct by Steven Raucci.

The memo stated the following:

As you mayor may not be aware, I have been appointed by the Schenectady City School District to conduct and independent investigation of workplace misconduct allegations involving former employee, Steven Raucci.

If you believe you may have information or documentation that members of your unit have shared with you that may be pertinent to this investigation, please contact me as soon as possible so we can schedule a time to meet and review the information and/or documentation. I have also made arrangements to be in the District on May 1h and 8'h and will be available to meet at any time. I will be located in the conference room in Shari Greenleaf's Office. if you contact me prior to May s"; I wtu be more than happy to schedule a specific time to meet that is convenient to you.

Conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation requires that I rely on Unit Presidents to share information with me regarding what members may have observed regarding Mr. Raucci's workplace conduct over the course of the last thirty years. I am relying on you to assist me in my efforts to resolve this issue so the District may move forward in a positive manner.

I look forward to assisting the District in this matter, and thank you in advance for your assistance in providing me the information necessary to conduct this investigation.

Thank you.

contacted by who I also met on May 7, 2009.

She declined to have representation at that meeting.

1 requested interviews from two members of the Administrative Unit, specifically,

_ and They respectfully declined.

Interviews with all individuals commenced with a review of the Interviewee handout and with a general statement from me, explaining what the Board of Education

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has charged me with investigating. I asked each individual for their specific title and how long they had been associated with the Schenectady City School District.

I explained to each individual that as a practice, I do not prepare specific questions for individual interviews; rather, to ensure a fair and unbiased portrayal of events from each individual is given, I give each individual an opportunity to share information with me that they deem is important in light of the scope of the investigation. I indicated to each individual that they will be asked a very broad question; I also indicated that I would ask additional questions throughout the session, both for clarification and to ensure that necessary topics, as determined by me, are covered.

As a point of clarification, I reviewed with each individual, in detail, the scope of the investigation, and reviewed the three components as outlined in the question presented.

The broad question at the start of each interview was as follows:

"I have explained to you what I have been asked to investigate by the Board of Education. Please share with me any and an information pertaining to Mr. Raucci's work conduct that you feel would be important for me to know; things that you personally observed and experienced. Please provide me with specific examples. I will interject and ask questions for clarification or more information throughout the dialog."

The following outlines individuals interviewed throughout this investigative process:

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Maxine Brisport Gary Farkas

J ames Casino

Board of Education Member Board of Education Member Board of Education Member

Warren Snyder John Mitchell

Fonner Board of Education Member Board of Education Member

Jeff Janiszewski

Board of Education Member ..

Interviews lasted between 15 minutes and 2 hours in duration.

Approximately 55 hours were spent interviewing 35 individuals. Each individual interviewed was notified by me that specific statements made by them in the course of their respective interview would be shared with the Board of Education. However, any information released to the public, to the extent the law allows and/or requires, would exclude names and confidential information. I also informed each individual interviewed that they were not compelled to talk to me; that participating in the interview was completely voluntary. A summary of interview notes for each specific individual interviewed is attached.

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INTRODUCTION:

Employees were able to give specific examples they personally observed; including the names of those . date and time; and circumstances . of the

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Eighteen (18) either current or former employees were interviewed from the Operations & Maintenance Department who worked directly with and under the supervision of Mr. Raucci.

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This will be discussed in more detail under the Reporting Section of this report.

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"Individual school board members and other school officials, acting in their personal capacity, have the same right as any other member of the community to express their views on public issues. They may actively support a proposed budget and other ballot propositions, as long as they do so at their own expense and on their own behalf. In other words, they cannot use district funds, facilities, or channels of communication, or claim to be speaking on behalf of the board and must avoid giving the impression they are doing so (Appeal of Johnson, 45 Educ. Dept Rep. 469 (2006); Appeal of Goldin, 40 Bduc. Dept Rep. 628 (2001); see also Appeal of Eisenkraft, 38 Educ. Dept Rep. 553 (1999); Appeal of Dinan, 36 Educ. Dept Rep. 370 (1997); Appeal of Carroll,

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33 Educ. Dept Rep. 219 (1993); Appeal of Weaver, 28 Educ. Dept Rep. 183 (1988); Matter of Wolff, 17 Educ. Dept Rep. 297 (1978))."

"According to the commissioner of education, districts should avoid engaging in activities that create an appearance of impropriety, even if the activity itself technically does not violate the prohibition against partisan advocacy.

"The commissioner of education has ruled that districts cannot do indirectly that which they cannot do directly. In general, this means that school officials can neither actively encourage nor tacitly permit anyone else to use district facilities or channels of communication to engage in promotional activities. School boards are ultimately accountable for how district facilities and resources are used and must avoid even the appearance of impermissible partisan activity (Appeal of Cass, Furnkranz & Poet, 46 Educ. Dept Rep. 321 (2007); Appeal of Maliha, 41 Bduc. Dept Rep. 367 (2002); see also Appeal of McBride, 39 Bduc. Dept Rep. 702 (2000); Appeal of Karpoff, 40 Educ; Dept Rep. 459 (2000), 192 Misc.2d 487 (2001), affd, 296 A.D.2d 691 (3d Dept 2002), appeal denied, 99 N.Y.2d 501 (2002})."

When posed the question, "Can school officials permit employee unions or staff, to use district facilities or channels of communication to encourage a particular vote'?" New York State School Boards Association responds as follows:

"No, not even pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement provision that otherwise allows a union the right to use office machines and equipment for union business (Appeal of Himmelberg, 46 Bduc. Dept Rep. 228 (2006)). According to the commissioner of education, such an agreement cannot authorize unconstitutional partisan use of district resources. Therefore, it was improper for a union president to use a districts email system to disseminate a message endorsing two candidates running for the school board (ld.). "

"Similarly, it was improper for a local teachers union to use school mailboxes to distribute flyers to union members urging them to vote for certain preferred board candidates. Although the superintendent told union leaders to desist and directed building principals to retrieve the flyers from the mailboxes upon learning of the distribution, the commissioner admonished the district to take steps to prevent other groups from taking similar action in the future (Appeal of Van Allen, 38 Educ. Dept Rep. 701 (1999); see also Appeal of Hoefer, 41 Educ. Dept Rep. 203 (2001); but compare with Appeal of Huber, 41 Bduc. Dept Rep. 240 (2001)}."

"School boards are accountable for any such misuses (Appeal of Himmelberg). Districts also must take affirmative steps to ensure that teachers and staff do not convey partisan positions to students on school time on matters pending before the voters (Appeal of Lawson, 36 Bduc. Dept Rep. 450 (1997); compare with Appeal of Roxbury Taxpayers Alliance, 34 Bduc. Dept Rep. 576 (1995)), in which the commissioner ruled that there was nothing improper about a teacher explaining the

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meaning of a contingency budget to students in class because the teacher only provided factual information to the students}."

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• Policy # 6110 Code of Ethics for all District Personnel

• Policy # 6430 Employee Activities

• Policy # 6450 Theft of Services or Property

• Policy # 6470 Staff Use of Computerized Information Resources

• Policy # 9120 Sexual Harassment of District Personnel

• Policy # 931 ° Anti-Harassment in the School District

Policy # 6110, Code of Ethics for all District Personnel,

" ... the Board of Education of the Schenectady City School District recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for members of the Board and employees of the District that must be observed if a high degree of moral conduct is to be obtained in our unit of local government. "

Policy # 6430, Employee Activities,

"The Board of Education recognizes the right of its employees, as citizens, to engage in political activities and to exercise their constitutionally-protected rights to address matters of public concern.

However, a District employee's constitutional rights to raise matters of public concern are limited when the speech or action occurs on school grounds and/or during school times. When such speech or action occurs on school grounds and/or during school time, the Board of Education can impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place and manner of the speech or action, and can further regulate the content of such speech when it materially imperils the District's operation. "

Policy #6450, Theft of Services or Property,

"The theft of services or property from the District by an employee will result in immediate disciplinary action that can lead to dismissal or other penalty, and shall not preclude the filing of criminal or civil charges by the District. "

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Policy #6470, Staff Use of Computerized Information Resources, _

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"Generally, the same standards of acceptable employee conduct which apply to any aspect of job performance shall apply to use of the District Computer System (DCS). Employees are encouraged to utilize electronic communication in their roles as employees of the District ... Such usage shall be limited to school related issues or activities. Communications over the DCS are public in nature; e-mail and voice mail are not confidential or secure; therefore, general rules and standards for professional behavior and communications will apply.

Prohibitions

.f) Employing the DeS for commercial purposes, product advertisement or political lobbying.

11) Sharing confidential information on students and employees.

i) Sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures.

k) Harassing, insulting or attacking others.

n) Use of the DCS for other than school related work or activities.

p) Use which violates any other aspect of School District policy and/or regulations, as well as local, state or federal laws or regulations ."

Policy # 9120, Sexual Harassment of District Personnel,

"The Board of Education affirms its commitment to non-discrimination and recognizes its responsibility to provide for all District employees an environment that is free of sexual harassment and intimidation.

In order for the Board to enforce this policy, and to take corrective measures as may be necessary, it is essential that any employee who believes he/she has been a victim of sexual harassment in the work environment, as well as any other person who is aware of and/or who has knowledge of or witnesses any possible occurrence of sexual harassment, immediately report such alleged harassment to the District's designated Complaint Officer(s) through informal and/or formal complaint procedures as developed by the District. "

Policy #9310, Anti-Harassment in the School District,

"The Board prohibits and condemns all forms of harassment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, political a/filiation, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status ....

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In order for the Board to enforce this policy, and to take corrective measures as may be necessary, it is essential that any employee, student, or other member of the above named group who believes he/she has been a victim of harassment in the school environment and/or at programs, activities and events under the control and supervision of the District, as well as any individual who is aware of and/or who has knowledge of, or witnesses any possible occurrence of harassment, immediately report such alleged harassment; such report shall be directed to or forwarded to the District's designated Complaint Officer(s) through informal and/or formal complaint procedures as developed by the District. Such complaints are recommended to be in writing.

This policy should not be read to abrogate other District policies and/or regulations or the District Code of Conduct prohibiting other forms of unlawful discrimination, inappropriate behavior, and/or hate crimes within the District. It is the intent of the District that all such policies and/or regulations be read consistently to provide the highest level of protection from unlawful discrimination in the provision of employment/educational services and opportunities. However, different treatment of any member of the above named group which has a legitimate, legal and nondiscriminatory reason shall not be considered a violation of District policy. "

Throughout the course of this investigation, I had an opportunity to examine

relevant and interview 35

individuals.

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CONCLUSION:

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RECOMMENDATIONS

Schenectady Board of Education to answer the following question:

What steps can be taken by the Schenectady City School District to ensure employees do not engage workplace misconduct in the future, and if they do, how can the District ensure that appropriate steps are followed to immediately remedy the situation in an appropriate and timely fashion?

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CONCLUSION

The Schenectady City School District's Mission; Vision; and Beliefs are as follows:

"Mission/Vision Statement:

The mission of the Schenectady City School District, a nurturing progressive learning environment and a vital part of the larger community, is to ensure that all students achieve their fullest potential as responsible members of a society through a system characterized by:

Creative leadership Challenging curricula

Innovative, varied, and engaging methods of learning and teaching Integration of modern technology

Strong partnerships

A safe, healthy, and supportive climate

Vision:

To accomplish this mission, our dedicated, student centered staff, will provide a challenging, relevant curriculum in an environment that is safe, orderly and conducive to learning.

Beliefs

WE BELIEVE THAT Every individual deserves to be safe.

WE BELIEVE THAT Every person is responsible for the actions he or she chooses to take.

WE BELIEVE THAT Every individual needs the support of others to thrive.

WE BELIEVE THAT Society can only be successful when its members serve each other.

WE BELIEVE THAT All living things depend on other living things.

WE BELIEVE THAT Every individual deserves to be treated with respect.

WE BELIEVE THAT Family is critical to the development and well being of the individual.

WE BELIEVE THAT Effective, honest communication is essential to mutual understanding.

WE BELIEVE THAT Ensuring the care of children is the most responsibility of society.

WE BELIEVE THAT Every person deserves an opportunity to achieve his or her potential.

WE BELIEVE THAT Everyone needs valid praise and recognition.

WE BELIEVE THAT Extra-ordinary expectations are essential for extra-ordinary outcomes.

WE BELIEVE THAT Individuals have the right to form their own beliefs. WE BELIEVE THAT Responsibility is learned; therefore, it must be taught"

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Again, thank you for the opportunity to assist your District. I sincerely hope that my efforts will be the first of many steps taken to move forward in a positive manner.

Thank you.

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EXAMINATION OF EMAILS

In addition to the interview process, examination of personnel files, grievance

files, complaint files, and Board of .

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Over 10,000 emailsweresec1.iredandexamined.ptirsuantto this investigation.

The content of the emails included infonnation regarding leases, contracts, employee discipline, union business, personal business.i and other employee related matters. Correspondencefrom and to Mr. Rauccifncluded all levels of District employees,

, inc1u~ Jeff,JaniszewSld, BOard or Education Presi4ent, Eric Ely, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael San.Angelo, Assistant,SUperititendentorBl,lSmess, Michael Stricos, Human' Resource Director; Shari Greenleaf; School Attorney ,.Building .prmcipals, other Union ''Presidents;''Qperationsahd . Maintenarice ·Depa.n.ment EniplOy¢¢s; ·aswel1'·., as~otber .

. District eIl1pIQyees~" . , . ,

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I have highlighted

have includedtheentire email series as .

• "emaiIS are attached. and arein·chronological.order.

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EMAILS

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SUMMARY OF INTERVIEW STATEl'dENTS

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employee

Night shift was 2: 30 to 11.

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