Irving Harper dies, sculptures to be auctioned

Irving Harper, legendary artist and Rye resident, died of renal failure earlier this month. He was 99. File photos

Irving Harper, legendary artist and Rye resident, died of renal failure earlier this month. He was 99. File photos

By CHRIS EBERHART
Legendary artist and designer Irving Harper died from renal failure in the obscurity of his Greenhaven home in the City of Rye on Aug. 4. He was 99. 

He is survived today by his daughter, Elizabeth Harper Williams, who characterized her father as “a good, kind, creative, lovely man.”

She paused for a moment, and added, “I’ll miss him a lot.”

Since the 1960s, Harper, a quiet and reserved man by nature, created hundreds of paper sculptures of different shapes, sizes and colors in his off-the-beaten-path home—hidden behind trees and shrubbery in a corner of Brevoort Lane—as a way to relieve the everyday stress of working as a designer in the renowned New York City office of George Nelson in the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

During his time as a designer, Harper created some of the Nelson office’s most iconic contributions including the 1949 Ball Clock, the Herman Miller logo and the 1965 Marshmallow Sofa.

But in his spare time over the past 55 years, Harper created paper sculptures that never left his home. He never wanted them to.

To Harper, these sculptures were like his friends.

This was one of hundreds of sculptures created by Irving Harper that were scattered all over his secluded Rye home.

This was one of hundreds of sculptures created by Irving Harper that were scattered all over his secluded Rye home.

Last September, the Review interviewed Harper in his home, where he was surrounded by his sculptures. At one point, he took a break from answering questions, scanned the room and finally said, “I’m here looking at [the sculptures], and they’ve just added so much to my life.”

Earlier that month, on Sept. 14, 2014, Harper’s works were showcased for the first time ever in the Rye Arts Center on Milton Road.

During the opening of the exhibit, Harper sat in his wheelchair and watched visitors marvel at his paper sculptures. In January 2015, Harper saw one of his sculptures, a coiled snake comprised of light blue and dark pink paper, auctioned off for the first time ever. Rye residents Paul and Kate Conn presented the highest bid: $21,000.

Harper told the Review after the opening, “I didn’t want the attention, so I was reluctant [to showcase] the sculpture in an exhibit. But I eventually welcomed it, and it was a great feeling to be discovered.”

Harper Williams said her father’s works will be auctioned off by Richard Wright
in Chicago.

Meg Rodriguez, executive director of the Rye Arts Center said, “No matter who has Harper’s [paper sculptures], it would be wonderful if Irving Harper could live on through his work being publicly shared with future generations.”

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 

Author chronicles One World Trade Center

In her latest book, New York Times bestselling author and Mamaroneck resident Judith Dupré will tackle One World Trade Center’s long road to fruition.  Photo/Joe Woolhead

In her latest book, New York Times bestselling author and Mamaroneck resident Judith Dupré will tackle One World Trade Center’s long road to fruition.
Photo/Joe Woolhead

By JAMES PERO
Perhaps the only thing more intriguing than the content of Judith Dupré’s books is the way they’re presented. 

“Skyscrapers,” a New York Times bestseller, is elongated and skinny, mimicking the dimensions of the towers chronicled between its covers; “Bridges” sprawls horizontally in a homage to the architectural design of its namesake; “Churches,” another New York Times best seller, folds open like the gates to a chapel, revealing its pages like a church’s nave.

For her next book, however—which catalogues the arduous, and oftentimes emotionally-charged, construction of One World Trade Center—Dupré may not need any symbolic design; the building, and the tragic history that preceded its erection, speak for themselves.

Dupre said, though the Twin Towers, which stood in place of One World Trade Center before terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, are now long gone, their shadow still looms over the site.

“The opportunity arose to write about One World Trade Center,” Dupré said. “And I thought, ‘Here’s this challenge.’ How do I make this new when everything down there is haunted by the ghost of 9/11… The biggest challenge that One World Trade Center has to face is exorcising the ghosts of the past.”

In late July, Dupré, a resident of Prospect Avenue in Mamaroneck, was one of 36 applicants to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities for its inaugural Public Scholars program, a grant which will help fund her newest endeavor; a book called “One World Trade Center: The Biography of the Building,” which is set to be released in spring 2016.

“Skycrapers,” first published in 1996, is 18 inches tall and designed to mimic the towers inside.

“Skycrapers,” first published in 1996, is 18 inches tall and designed to mimic the towers inside.

The $37,800 grant will aid Dupré—who was given unprecedented access to the site, archives, and suppliers of the Trade Center by the Port Authority—in crafting a book that will take readers on an immersive journey through the building’s actualization, using original photography, transcripts from more than 70 interviews with the buildings chief architects and designers, and an interactive website where readers will be able to explore the topic even further.

Dupré is no rookie when it comes to writing about architecture. She has developed a track record for rendering the world’s architecture in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable to mass  audiences for the past 30 years, selling nearly a million copies worldwide.

But according to Dupré, no building has surprised her as much as One World Trade Center.

“The building had to do so much,” she said. “It had to be a good place for thousands of people to work; it had to be the most secure building in the world. [One World Trade Center’s] security measures have changed the way skyscrapers are built around the world … It’s an incredibly innovative building.”

Despite the building’s ability to inspire awe, according to Dupré, both constructing the building as well as writing about it came with its fair share of complications. For her, the major obstacle was capturing the beauty and ethos of the Trade Center while presenting opinions about it.

“Sorting out all the opinions in an equitable way [was difficult],” she said. “Everyone wanted to tell me the real story. There were a lot of opinions.”

Surprisingly, according to Dupré, the Trade Center’s biggest obstacle to fruition may have been, not having too few, but too many people willing to help.

“Building the Trade Center was like a relay race where people just brought in significant concepts and then handed off the baton to the next person who then advanced it again a bit,” she said. “It took a long time to build. It was also a project that was slowed by a smothering of good intentions. People wanted to help; people wanted to be involved.”

This complication, according to Dupré, was also one of the Trade Center’s biggest triumphs.

During the push to erect One World Trade Center, the author explains that dozens of organizations consisting of hundreds of members, along with more than 26,000 construction
workers were involved in brining the Trade Center to life.

“With no hyperbole,” Dupré said, “One World Trade Center is the most profound collaboration in history.”

Even though the book is nearing completion according to Dupré, she continues to spitball new ideas for how to make the reading experience even more immersive and interactive.

One idea involves a corresponding mobile app which would allow visitors of the site to hear interviews with some of One World Trade Center’s most important architects.

“We want to give people a way to use their smartphones to [interact] with One World Trade Center,” she said. “So you can pick up your phone and hear David Childs, the lead architect, tell you about the design.”

Beyond any app, website, design, or piece of written content, however, Dupré explained her simple goal for the book.

“My goal was to convey the beauty of One World Trade Center,” she said.

CONTACT: james@hometwn.com

New York City’s iconic Flatiron Building is one of the towers featured in “Skyscrapers.” Photos/“Skyscrapers”

New York City’s iconic Flatiron Building is one of the towers featured in “Skyscrapers.” Photos/“Skyscrapers”

 

Tigers set to defend crown

Grace Fitzgerald looks for an open teammate on Aug. 24. Fitzgerald is one of several seniors on the team that is looking to add to Mamaroneck’s storied history.

Grace Fitzgerald looks for an open teammate on Aug. 24. Fitzgerald is one of several seniors on the team that is looking to add to Mamaroneck’s storied history.

By MIKE SMITH
After staking its claim to the state title last year, the Mamaroneck field hockey team comes into the fall season with a sizeable target on its back—and the talent, it would appear, to take 

on all-comers.

Last season, the Tigers established themselves as one of the best teams in the nation. This year, they will ask a new group of players to step up and continue to build upon the legacy of the program.

According to head coach John Savage, the Tigers have 10 seniors returning this season, four of whom played a significant role in the team’s title run. Grace Fitzgerald and Lizzie Clarke should both play integral roles on the attack this year, while Katie Cotter and goalie Jamie Schiff should anchor the team on the defensive end. Savage said that he believes his returners, even those who didn’t log much playing time on the team’s path to the state title, will be able to fall back on the lessons they learned last year in the postseason.

Lizzie Clarke controls the ball during drills. Clarke was a major contributor on last year’s team and figures to play a key role in 2015.

Lizzie Clarke controls the ball during drills. Clarke was a major contributor on last year’s team and figures to play a key role in 2015.

“I think going through it, it gives you some idea of what it takes to be successful,” Savage said. “We’ve had great attendance throughout our summer league from seniors all the way down to eighth graders and all of our girls have been working hard.”

As the season approaches, Savage is still tinkering with the lineup. With just 17 girls on the squad this year, he said that every player on the roster needs to be prepared to step into unfamiliar positions from time to time. Last season, Savage reshuffled four of his top offensive players late in the season to achieve great success, and believes that the versatility of his players was a key component to the team’s championship run.

“It’s still a matter of flip-flopping positions and finding out who can do what,” Savage said. “We have a small team this year, but I think that every player is going to contribute.”

The Mamaroneck Tigers take a lap at practice on Aug. 24. Mamaroneck is set to defend its 2014 state title this year.

The Mamaroneck Tigers take a lap at practice on Aug. 24. Mamaroneck is set to defend its 2014 state title this year.

The Tigers will officially begin their title defense on Sept. 2 against Ursuline. Right from the get-go, Savage said, opposing squads will be gunning for the chance to knock off the 2014 titlists.

“We know that every game we play, our opponents are going to treat it like a sectional game, doing their best to out-hustle us,” he said. “Because people expect so much from us, there’s definitely a lot of pressure, but the kids handle it well.”

We’ve been to 11 straight section title games and we’ve won eight. But now these girls, especially the seniors, are looking forward to writing their own stories.”

 Contact: sports@hometwn.com

The Tigers prepare for the 2015 campaign in a preseason drill. Photos/Bobby Begun 

Westchester hosts concussion conference

Dr. Mark Herceg, who serves as Westchester County’s commissioner of Community Mental Health, speaks at the Conference on Concussions on Aug. 20. Herceg is heading a task force that is charged with implementing a program for area schools to use in the treatment of sports-related concussions.

Dr. Mark Herceg, who serves as Westchester County’s commissioner of Community Mental Health, speaks at the Conference on Concussions on Aug. 20. Herceg is heading a task force that is charged with implementing a program for area schools to use in the treatment of sports-related concussions.

By MIKE SMITH
On Aug. 20, area parents, coaches and players gathered at the Westchester County Center for the Safer Sports Conference on Concussions, a series of talks designed to raise awareness about the causes and effects of sports-related head injuries. 

More than 200 people turned out to hear medical experts give their take on brain safety in sports as concussions continue to be a hot-button issue across the athletic landscape.

Five speakers were on hand to discuss various issues concerning brain injuries, from how to properly diagnose a traumatic head injury to setting protocols to ensure that student-athletes who suffer these types of injuries can bounce back, both on the field and in the classroom.

In July, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino launched a concussion task force as part of his Safer Communities initiative. According to Astorino, whose own young children participate in sports, the topic of concussions has risen to the forefront of sports discussions in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are roughly 4 to 5 million sports-related concussions per year, a number that has been increasing at a steady rate.

“One of the things we know how to do as parents, trainers or coaches, if a child is on the field or the court and scrapes a knee, or twists an ankle, we know what to do basically,” Astorino said. “But if a kid is dizzy, we don’t always know what to do. It’s something I have talked about with other parents in the bleachers and that’s one of the reasons this has all come about.”

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks at the Safer Sports Conference on Concussions on Aug. 20 at the Westchester County Center. Astorino hopes that his newly appointed concussion task force and last week’s conference will help keep our young athletes safer from brain injuries.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks at the Safer Sports Conference on Concussions on Aug. 20 at the Westchester County Center. Astorino hopes that his newly appointed concussion task force and last week’s conference will help keep our young athletes safer from brain injuries.

Astorino’s task force has been charged with developing a model program that will be made available to local high schools to help athletic departments and school staffers address concerns stemming from sports-related concussions, especially with respect to post-injury management. The task force is being headed by Dr. Mark Herceg who serves as the director of neurophysiology at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains as well as the county commissioner of Community Mental Health.

Thursday’s conference, Asto-rino said, was part of the process to arm parents and coaches with more knowledge in the fight against concussions.

“The more we know about sports concussions, the better we can manage the injury if it does happen, and the better we can mitigate any lasting effects,” Astorino said.

Although there is not currently any one program in place for area schools to use, local athletic departments have taken it upon themselves over the last few years to put their own protocols in place for dealing with concussion management.

Dominic Zanot, who coaches football at Harrison High School, said that the response to concussions and the rise of concussion awareness today compared to his own playing days has been “night and day.”

“I graduated from Colgate in 2000 and I can’t remember even one protocol that was in place back then,” he said. “I don’t even know if the word ‘concussion’ ever came up. It was a completely different environment back then.”

Harrison, like several other area school districts in Westchester, implemented the ImPACT concussion evaluation system in 2011. The ImPACT system utilizes baseline testing of student-athlete’s cognitive brain functions to better manage when youngsters who have suffered a brain injury can safely get back on the field. According to Zanot, systems like ImPACT and the continued efforts of Astorino’s task force are invaluable in protecting young athletes.

“There is so much more information out there and we’re just better educated on concussions now,” Zanot said. “It’s not just something you take a two hour class on, though. [Coaches, trainers and parents] need to be continually re-educated.”

Football players from Eastchester and New Rochelle square off on the field during New Rochelle’s Champions Camp in July. Although concussions have become a hot topic in the football world, they affect student-athletes in all sports. Photos/Mike Smith

Football players from Eastchester and New Rochelle square off on the field during New Rochelle’s Champions Camp in July. Although concussions have become a hot topic in the football world, they affect student-athletes in all sports. Photos/Mike Smith

Hopefully, said Astorino, the new task force’s findings can be another effective tool to keep our young athletes safe.

“I know [the task force] has been working very hard here in the dog days of summer,” the county executive said. “I look forward to seeing what their report is, and then releasing it to all the school districts.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

Column: Feelin’ old and tired

Sports Editor Mike Smith, top row, far right, and his baseball team battled valiantly this summer, but a championship wasn’t in the cards for the Mud Hens. After a long summer, Smith is starting to feel his age. Contributed photo

Sports Editor Mike Smith, top row, far right, and his baseball team battled valiantly this summer, but a championship wasn’t in the cards for the Mud Hens. After a long summer, Smith is starting to feel his age. Contributed photo

Over the last few years in my column, I’ve written countless pieces about the ability that rejuvenating power sports has and about the power of athletic competition to make anyone feel young again. But man, oh man, do I feel old today.

As you, dear reader, are no doubt aware, I’ve spent the last nine years of my life playing and coaching on a men’s baseball team in New York City. It has been fulfilling and rewarding, and during those precious few at-bats when I actually square up a fastball, it’s a throwback to a time when playing baseball was without a doubt the most important thing in my life.

After our 7-2 defeat during Sunday’s championship game, however, I felt every bit of my 30 years.

I think the wheels began to come off last week, during what can only be described as our “miraculous” run to our first-ever championship appearance. With a new playoff format that forced us to play four nine-inning games in less than 48 hours, it was crazy enough that my guys and I were able to leave the field—by and large—under our own power, much less with more baseball still to be played the following weekend.

Playing 36 innings of baseball in one weekend is tough enough for an 18-year-old. But for a team comprised mainly of players on the wrong side of 30 whose main source of exercise during the week is taking the stairs, not the elevator, to our desk jobs? It’s absolute lunacy.

Sure we came out of the weekend with a chance to hoist the trophy, but the cost was high. We lost three players to balky hamstrings alone, we lost our flame-throwing ace to a strained UCL, and we spent about 15 minutes in the penultimate game as our third baseman lay prone in the infield, screaming bloody murder as he tried to work through a calf muscle cramp that probably wouldn’t have been a big deal for someone half his age.

When you’re winning, you can sort of fight through those setbacks. Eventually, however, it’s going to catch up to you.

I, like most of my teammates, spent the last seven days trying to simply survive my workweek, feeling more like a desiccated, latex-clad extra on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” than a Major League star. The promise of hoisting a trophy was enough to carry us through.

Once that promise of glory is gone, however, that’s when you start to feel the nicks, bruises and aches of an entire season of baseball.

After the game, my teammates and I retired to our local bar to toast to another great year of baseball and commiserate in the latest loss. The defeat itself wasn’t that bad. We were simply beat by a better team. But taking stock of what we had left was a different situation entirely. Our left fielder, a loyal teammate for the past seven years, was heading out west to take a job in Oregon. Our center fielder, a guy I’d played with since college, let me know that he didn’t have another year left in his legs. Our longtime ace, when asked if he was coming back for another year, glanced at his elbow, smiled wanly and just shook his head.

The game catches up with all of us. Heck, even I don’t know if I’ve got one more year of baseball left in my increasingly broken down body.

I feel old right now, and tired. But I guess that’s how you’re supposed to feel at the end of a long season.

Opening Day isn’t until April. I got a lot of time to rest up.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@Livemike_Sports

 

Letter: Republican concerned about village leadership

 

 

To the Editor,

I read Angela Giraldo’s letter to the editor regarding the recent action taken by the Westchester County Board of Elections. After doing some research, I now understand that Ms. Giraldo’s letter was misleading and disingenuous, as it put a negative spin on what was actually an act of public duty. In fact, the Westchester County Board of Elections threw out the Independence Party nomination petitions of Mayor Rosenblum and Deputy Mayor Santoro because they violated the election law.

I was brought up learning the difference between right and wrong. Cheating is wrong. Angela Giraldo, one of our local district leaders, publicly supports “cheating” as an option in the upcoming mayoral campaign. Last I checked, an election is a legal process. Soliciting signatures is a part of that process. If the signatures you solicit are not “valid” because they were solicited from outside of the Village of Mamaroneck or the people named weren’t even registered to vote, they should not be counted.

In addition, I—and I think most residents—expect our candidates and elected officials to respect the law. Rosenblum and Santoro were caught submitting names that weren’t eligible. That is the simple truth. Following the election law demonstrates true democratic—and all political party—values. Ensuring that rules and laws are followed is very important in ensuring a fair electoral process.
I interpret the actions of those who appealed as diligent. No candidate should be allowed to cheat, not even the current mayor. As a registered Republican, I didn’t start out this past year with an opinion of our current village politicians; however, I sure have ended this past year with serious concerns about how they run our village.

Village residents need to get involved and see firsthand how our village is being run so they can understand what the real values are of our current leaders and how things get done in the village. It’s clearly not a fair democratic process.

 

Jocelyn Donat,

Mamaroneck

Letter: Re: Angela Giraldo’s letter

 

 

To the Editor,

Like Angela Giraldo, I am a Democratic district leader. But unlike her, I don’t condone cheating during the election process. The Westchester County Board of Elections disqualified Norman Rosenblum and Lou Santoro from the Independence Party line of the Village of Mamaroneck ballot because very basic election laws were not followed.  Laws don’t allow Village of Larchmont residents to decide the Village of Mamaroneck ballot. Laws don’t allow those unaffiliated with the Independence Party to decide its candidates. Laws don’t allow those unregistered as voters to designate candidates or cast ballots in any election.

During their fourth successive campaign, Rosenblum and Santoro foolishly failed to make sure they had 25 of the 500 qualified Village of Mamaroneck Independence Party voters sign their designating petition. They were similarly sloppy with designating petitions for the Republican line where 20 percent of the submitted signatures were disqualified. Rosenblum and Santoro hired a lawyer and chose to make a panicked trip to court even before the Board of Elections ruled on Stuart Tiekert’s challenges, spending money needlessly, just like they do with our tax dollars.

This incident is a microcosm of Rosenblum and Santoro’s tenure: skirting rules, making short-sighted decisions, spending money recklessly and blaming others for their mistakes.  Change is overdue.

 

Suzanne McCrory,

Mamaroneck

Letter: Petition challenges are nothing new

 

 

To the Editor,

The Village of Mamaroneck Democratic Committee supports following election law and all law. Challenges to petition signatures are not “technicalities,” but rather the means to ensure fairness for everyone under the legal process. Nominating petitions have always been scrutinized and challenged by all parties, as they should be.

 

Executive Committee,

Zachary Cohen, Randi Robinowitz, Robert Stark, Kelly Wenstrup

What’s going on Mamaroneck

Mamaroneck Public Library

For regular programs and events, visit mamaronecklibrary.org.

All Ages Hour

Come in on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. for stories that will appeal to all ages of kids and their caregivers. Stay or come at 11:30 a.m. to make a craft simple enough for the little kids and creative enough for the big kids. No registration required for both events, and both activities meet in the Children’s Room on the second floor.

Saturday Dance at the Movies

The final screening in this series will be “Carmen” with a Flamenco twist, directed by Spaniard Carlos Saura who also did some of the choreography. On Saturday, Aug. 29 from 2 p.m. Running time: 102 minutes. Free admission. Hearing-assistance devices are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Screening in the Community Room. For more information, call the Reference Desk at 630-5888.

English conversation group

Make friends as you practice speaking English. Registration is suggested but not necessary. Meeting every Wednesday at 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Historical Society Room. Contact the Adult Reference Desk or call 630-5887 for more information.

Larchmont Public Library

For regular programs and events, visit larchmontlibrary.org.

Kindermusik

On Wednesday, Sept. 2. For ages 18 months to 3-and-a-half at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.; for ages 3 months to 18 months at 11:30 a.m.; and for ages 3 to 4-and-a-half at 3:30 p.m. Can you clap up high? Sing down low? Tiptoe so quietly? Together we’ll learn new songs, sing old favorites, play rhythm instruments, dance, laugh and snuggle. Come see just how much fun music can be.

New Movie Matinee

“Where Hope Grows” will be screened Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. Calvin Campbell is a former professional baseball player sent to an early retirement due to his panic attacks at the plate. Even though he had all the talent for the big leagues, he struggles with the curveballs life has thrown him. Today, he mindlessly sleepwalks through his days and the challenge of raising his teenager daughter. His life is in a slow downward spiral when it is suddenly awakened and invigorated by the most unlikely person—Produce, a young man with Down syndrome who works at the local grocery store. Rated PG-13.

Preschool Palooza

For ages 3 and 4. Thursdays, Sept. 3, 17 and 24 at 10:30 a.m. No registration required. Share stories, songs, and interactive rhymes and more in this early literacy enhanced program.

Making Music Together

On Wednesday, Sept. 9 for ages 19 months to 3 at 10 a.m. Online registration required. Join Karen Hamlin of Sounds Good Westchester as we sing, dance and play instruments with babies, toddlers, preschoolers and the grown-ups who love them. Our family music program, based on 27 years of research, believes that all children can learn to be musical. To register, visit the library’s website.

LMCTV

‘The Local Live!’

Tune in to LMCTV’s hyper local, interactive news show Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 75, Verizon Channel 36. During the show, join the discussion. Call 381-0150, email thelocallive@lmctv.org or tweet @thelocallive.

Spooktacular volunteers needed

Spooktacular returns on Sunday, Oct. 25. The Village of Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce is very excited that the Spooktacular has become one of the most anticipated events in our community. We can’t do it without the help of many volunteers and donations that are generously given.

If, in the past you have contributed, we are asking, can you again this year? We need music, performances, printing, pumpkins, gifts and candy for the goodie bags, and of course financial donations to defray the costs. The most important component of a successful Spooktacular—volunteers. You can send an email to Pam Moran at chamber10543@optonline.net, call her at 698-4400 or mail your donations to the Mamaroneck Chamber Office, 430 Center Ave.

Please don’t let the children of Mamaroneck down; sign on to help make this Spooktacular the best ever.

Kiwanis International

Car show and flea market

Kiwanis International’s 42nd annual car show and flea market will be held at Harbor Island Park on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. If any chamber of commerce members are interested in renting vendor space at the show, the cost of space is $40, and the cost of placing an advertisement in the show’s journal begins at $50. For more information about renting vendor or ad space, contact Vince Marconi of Tri-City Auto Parts at 698-9222.

Deadline for our What’s Going On section is every Thursday at noon. Though space is not guaranteed, we will do our best to accommodate your listing. Please send all items to news@hometwn.com.

 

New Rochelle schools sued for $1.5M

The Mamaroneck Union Free School District is suing New Rochelle’s school district for services provided to 53 students who live in New Rochelle but now attend three private schools in Mamaroneck. Pictured are Mamaroneck High School, left, and New Rochelle High School. File photos

The Mamaroneck Union Free School District is suing New Rochelle’s school district for services provided to 53 students who live in New Rochelle but now attend three private schools in Mamaroneck. Pictured are Mamaroneck High School, left, and New Rochelle High School. File photos

By JACKSON CHEN
The Mamaroneck Union Free School District is suing the City School District of New Rochelle for $1.5 million for providing services to Mamaroneck students that reside jurisdictionally in New Rochelle.

According to the lawsuit filed on July 28 with the Westchester County Supreme Court in White Plains, the Mamaroneck school district provided health, welfare and special education services to students that live within the New Rochelle school district starting in 2009. The services were provided to 53 New Rochelle students when their parents decided to enroll their children into three private schools within the Mamaroneck district, according to the lawsuit.

According to Mamaroneck’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Shaps, the school district was required by law to provide the students with services ranging from nurse visits to evaluations regarding special education students.

While the students still resided in New Rochelle, they attended Westchester Hebrew High School on Orienta Avenue in Mamaroneck, Sts. John and Paul School on Weaver Street in Larchmont, and The French-American School of New York on Fenimore Road in Mamaroneck.

However, the disparity between student residence and their choice of schools is a common occurrence within the county. According to Jeffrey White, assistant superintendent of the City School District of New Rochelle, the district works with 18 other school districts that have billed New Rochelle for similar items from 2,000 students.

In dealing with the lawsuit in front of New Rochelle, White said he was willing to work with the Mamaroneck school district in a collegial manner, but that it was their prerogative if they wanted to spend taxpayer money to file a lawsuit.

According to New York State Education Law, the Mamaroneck school district and other school districts were required to provide the proper programs for New Rochelle’s special education or disabled students, but were also entitled to recover the costs from New Rochelle. Over a period of six years, Mamaroneck invoiced several bills to the New Rochelle school district that ranged anywhere from $70,000 to $560,000.

”We have communicated previously with New Rochelle and I believe they have continued to say they’d look into it,” Shaps said of the outstanding payments. “But this goes way back and the Board [of Education] felt comfortable going forward with legal action.”

The Mamaroneck Board of Education voted unanimously to pursue a lawsuit against New Rochelle and its Board of Education on July 28.

In the lawsuit, the Mamaroneck school district alleged that the New Rochelle school district acknowledged and promised to pay back the services provided.

The lawsuit added that despite numerous representations that the New Rochelle district would pay up, Mamaroneck school officials have still not received the $1.5 million.

However, White, who only joined the New Rochelle district this January, said that the district just needed a little time to look over the Mamaroneck invoices, alongside the duties of balancing a school budget, evaluating the capital budget, and tending to the various facilities issues the district has been dealing with.

The New Rochelle assistant superintendent added that he spoke with Meryl Rubenstein, Mamaroneck’s assistant superintendent, emphasizing the Mamaroneck school district would receive their due money, even without the call for legal action.

“It’s really tragic that Meryl [Rubenstein] has decided to go this route,” White said. “I told her we could work this out collegially…I suggested we could do it without attorneys and save both districts that expense.”

Since the filing of the notice of claim in June and the subsequent summons in July, the attorneys representing both school districts have agreed to give New Rochelle until Oct. 19 to respond to the lawsuit.

CONTACT: jackson@hometwn.com