YONKERS, NY – September 4, 2014 – On August 26, 2014, Yonkers City Hall advised that Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) Trustee Nydia Perez had resigned from the board. James Cavanaugh, a Yonkers Parking Authority Board Director would shoulder the responsibilities for the balance of Perez’s unexpired term in office which runs through May 2015. As trustee of the YBoE, Cavanaugh will join eight other members, which is the official policy making body of the Yonkers Public School District.
Yonkers Mayor Spano extolled the resume of accomplishments earned by Cavanaugh over many years private and public service. Omitted from the long litany of accomplishments is Cavanaugh’s position with former Nick Spano’s lobbying firm, Empire Strategic Planning, as its right hand man. At issue is its omission. Cavanaugh’s presence on the YBoE Board retains Mayor Spano’s majority over any minor board members’ concerns.. More importantly, as the focus of the YBoE Board is again steered toward directing Public Private Partnership remedies in reviving a decayed and atrophied public schools infrastructure the beneficiaries will seem to be the student body when in reality it will be Empire Strategic Planning who will be dispensing and allocating the entire multi-billion dollar undertaking. The beneficiary will be the Hon. Nick Spano at the head of the table. All the while Yonkers, well… you know, they live, breath, and pay their bills on stillborn promises.
In order to grease the wheels of subterfuge, City Hall engaged in employing Nydia Perez illegally. They wanted to afford Perez the ability to be under a medical insurance plan at the taxpayers’ expense. Had Yonkers Human Resources Commissioner Carlos Moran been made aware of the standards employed and the protocol by which Yonkers City Hall engaged in employing Perez, he would have quickly concluded that Perez’s employment would be considered illegal. The unfortunate aspect of this underhanded conduct is that HR Commissioner Moran is unlikely to have been asked for his input. City Hall and an evidently unaware YBoE Board believed they could do what they did because they could, but they cannot do so legally.
Consider the qualifications demanded of a School Aide. She must be able bodied, something Perez may have been at one time, but no longer. She cannot attend to a young child, a preteen or a teen. She cannot keep up with any student because she has difficulty walking. She also needs a cane to steady her gait. At issue is whether she is safe within an elementary classroom setting? Can she navigate safely among the close proximity of tables, chairs, young people who are moving quickly about the room and hallways and cafeteria at certain times of the day? Can she aid an injured child fast enough. Is she as much of a hindrance to the student population as she may be to herself? This is not personal; this is a pragmatic and also legal cocern. Her employment, should anything detrimental transpire to which her presently ill-equipped physical being cannot manage be cause for future litigation?
Yonkers Inspector General Brendan McGrath is loath to consider this issue. Were this a thorn in his side, he would have been all over it. The Yonkers City Council could issue a subpoena against the Yonkers Board of Education, now a Department of Yonkers City Hall, no longer an independent entity, but they lack the backbone to serve their constituency and the students in their care and trust and to protect the taxpayer from potential litigation because of her physical state.
The School Aide position afforded Perez is also illegal because the position of School aide was not made public to being a position available to all candidates. Were it divulged, there ir certain to be a long line of those interested in serving in that capacity. The deal for Perez was done before she resigned. Perez resigned knowing she was employed and knowing she had jumped ahead of the line illegally.
No waiver of any kind is acceptable in remedying this issue other than to remove her from the School Aide position where she may hurt herself or a student or students.
Perez is not in compliance with standards, protocol, or the law. Neither is Yonkers City Hall. This outcome is not one any Yonkersite may feel pride. Remember the City of Yonkers is not an employment agency responsible to caring for everybody in Yonkers. Perhaps the Yonkers City Council with assistance and clout from Mayor Spano can change the present standards, protocol, and law. Until then… Nydia Perez is employed at Hostos Elementary School.