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Saturday, February 4, 2023
Home Schools Leaders in Rye: Do We Have Any?

Leaders in Rye: Do We Have Any?

Well, its been about ten days since the hazing incident in Rye and I'm beginning to wonder if we have any leaders in Rye.

I started MyRye.com over six years ago and beyond being an unapologetic enthusiast for Rye City, I have not been one to publish opinions. There are a lot of private conversations going on in the wake of the hazing charges but I find it disturbing that not a single Rye leader as best I can tell is speaking out other than some canned PR stuff from school superintendent Ed Shine.

Not the schools. Not the PTO. Not the teachers. Not the coaches. Not the Mayor. Not the City Council. Not the Rye Youth Council. Not the YMCA. Not the clergy. Not the parents. Not the young people. Not the victims. Not the accused. Not the police.

We teach our kids to speak up when you know something is wrong. Show them how to do it. Don't be a bystander. Change only happens when you speak up.

The window is closing to leverage bad for some good. For a conversation about decency and community norms. There is a Rye City Council meeting this Wednesday, June 13th at 8pm. There is a Rye City School District Meeting on a draft Code of Conduct (really, its true..) on Monday, June 18th at 9am. And then the schools let out… and then excuses will be made and there will blather about talking in the fall…

We are so unbelievable fortunate to live here in a community with so much and then the silence in the wake of all this. It is deafening. From what we hear at MyRye.com, this "tradition" (problem number one, it's being called a tradition) has been going on for years, although perhaps it was more violent this year than usual. We hear that part of this is the older brothers and their friends targeting the younger brothers. We hear that some mothers expect and accept this, and welcome their beaten 8th graders back into their homes as a rite of passage. It’s truly sick.

We need some leadership around here. Who is going to step up? We want to hear your voices.

-Jay Sears, Publisher, MyRye.com

  1. Jay, you might say Rye Leaders have not spoken up, but parents and citizens certainly have. Have you read the conversation here on your own blog, or on the Patch? Anne-Marie Pensanti has been quite up front on this issue for a week now and has taken the issue to facebook. Other parents have signed their names to strong positions as well.

    You surely can’t expect the victims to speak out – they’ve suffered enough. So why did you list them along with the police as if there is some kind of equivalence?
    While it makes for a more powerful essay to list a long list of those whom you believe have not shown “leadership” – it doesn’t entirely ring true. What kind of leadership do you expect from a 13 year old boy?

  2. Jay – I have seen comments on this blog from a retired BoE president and a city council member. The BoE just published a pretty good statement about the situation. So while I appreciate your concern, I think your timing may be just a tad off. The crimes have driven a huge amount of conversation both on-line and in the real world.

    I disagree with the threads that want to shelter the little darlings who did the hazing / physical abuse / etc as well as the people who downplay the situation as “boys will be boys” or “it’s just part of growing up”. There are also the many kids who have kept silent because they still think that being paddled marks them for future BMOC status. (I worry that it is they who will try to continue the illegal, reprehensible behavior).

    But I do believe that the leadership you seek is something that needs to come from the community and not purely elected officials. It is up to each parent in this town to,talk to their kids, find out what the kids know / think and guide them toward truly adult, civilized behavior. But that will be pretty darn tough for parents who think that nothing fundamentally wrong happened other than that someone complained.

  3. Yes I have been quite verbal. I have been verbal on the blogs, on FB, with friends, acquaintances and family. I have been MOST verbal with my children and their friends, all of whom are directly involved in this matter. I have comforted them, lectured them and opened the discussion to hear all about their viewpoints and feelings on the matter. I asked them how they think this incident should be handled and how we should go forward. I have read everything everyone has written over and over again and this is what I have discovered.

    Having little to no experience on the Rye blogs, i see that smart people will use an incident to like this to promote their own political issues. I skim right over these people. I see that there are people who will not write their true identity. I find this cowardly. By my own authentication, I have put my children in harm’s way…..ripe for retaliation by those who do not agree with me. I have risked losing friends who may be parents of juniors and are protecting their children as I protect mine. If this publication or the others had balls, they would not even publish anything that was not signed with a real name. These are the same people that say this town has ‘no balls’ by making a big deal out of ‘Freshman Friday” Such charming people, really.

    So Jay, just because people are not speaking out loud enough for you to hear, people are speaking out. The fate of the three juniors is now in the hands of the judicial system. (Of course there are many other juniors who were involved and walk freely.) Although I do not condone what they did and they must be accountable, I feel sorry for them and their parents. They are just beginning their lives and they have made some seriously bad choices. I hope they learn from whatever consequences are dealt to them so they can recover and make better choices.

    But YES, I feel sick for what happened to our eighth graders and my heart goes out to not only them but to all the children across the country in bad neighborhoods and in good ones like ours, who deal with bullying all the time…….who live in fear of being harmed day in and day out. This is what motivates me. I want to find specific ways to prevent this from happening again. I do not want children to feel fear. Does anyone???

  4. You got it Jay – the word is leadership.

    Apologists for failed leadership generally start first with blame spreading – and then excuses – – and then “misunderstandings” – and navel gazing.

    I made a comment days ago that was dismissed out of hand as the blame spreading phase started. And it was –

    “I come at this from a management angle. In my opinion, the parents of the perpetrators here are far, far from blameless. But under the logic I think you propose the community adopt (“I can’t see how anyone can blame the school system”) no one is ultimately ACCOUNTABLE for the MANAGEMENT of our school system including the safety of the children in it. Think about that.

    Harry Truman was mocked for having been a shoe salesman. Thus he put a singular sign on his Oval Office desk. What does the sign on Dr. Shine’s desk read?”

    Now did Dr. Shine swing lumber on 8th graders at Marshlands? Heck no. Was it one of Dr. Shine’s own kids kidnapping minors off the village green and transporting them to a secluded place for their premeditated assaults? Heck no. Was any current or past member of the school board involved in any way in these actual crimes? Heck no.

    So I have to ask again – What does the sign on Dr. Shine’s desk read?

  5. I am not challenging the veracity of this, but truly curious.

    I have not heard anyone personally or publicly reduce this to a boys will be boys kind of situation, or say that the victims or community are making to big a deal of it.

    Where have others seen/heard this sentiment?

    To Anne-Marie- I agree with everything you say about this incident. However, I choose to remain anonymous not out of cowardice, but because I am intensely private. I do not shrink from my opinions IRL, but on the internet, you do not ever know who your audience truly is, so I have made a conscious decision to put as little of my life on the internet as possible. I do not have a facebook page, etc. Again, this is not out of cowardice, but rather a deliberate decision to only be known to those I know.

  6. Ryemom and others…..I promise this is the last time I will comment on the ‘anonymous’ issue because it is taking away from what is really important……keeping our children safe and from being unnecessarily fearful of physical harm. An ‘intensely private’ person probably would not post on a blog. But whatever, that is solely my opinion. I do not give much merit to anonymous posts. I may regret my decision to post my opinion in my real name, but at least I have the ‘balls’ to accept whatever comes my way as a result. Hazing/Bullying/Paddling is wrong. Causing children to feel fear in this situation is wrong. There is no gray area in my book. It is very easy to sign my name to this viewpoint.

  7. @ Jay,

    You are 100% correct as far as “official leadership”….INVISIBLE!!!

    @ Bob,

    I think what we are seeing now is the beginning of community leadership on this topic, a little late but better late than never! You don’t think the letter from the BOE was a response from Jay’s post….hmmmmm?

    @ Ted,

    Those who are in power to end this and have always been in power have buried this from day one. This should have been addressed years ago by the school, RPD, City Officials, etc.

    Most if not all the hazing over the years is performed by “jocks”, the first punishment should have been “eliminated from all sports activities”, school suspensions, maybe even a year in the “A” school. Had the school set this example maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today!
    As for Dr. Shine, he brought this critisism on himself with his pathetic comments in acting like he has been under a rock!!!

    @ Anne-Marie,

    I agree with all your assessments 1,0000%!!!

    “By my own authentication, I have put my children in harm’s way…..ripe for retaliation by those who do not agree with me. I have risked losing friends who may be parents of juniors and are protecting their children as I protect mine”

    Other than retaliation on your children don’t concern yourself with the rest of that, if they were true friends they wouldn’t abandon you, always stand behind your words, words with a face are twice as powerful than the cowards who hide their identity!

  8. Anne Marie: for the record I agree with your viewpoints on the topic at hand.

    I am also, ironically, feeling slightly bullied here….being called a coward, having my opinion dismissed, etc. because I don’t feel comfortable revealing my name to an unknown audience. I have never abused my anonymity.

    I will let those with real names take over.

  9. @ Rye Mom,

    I have said this ever since Jay started this blog and since I have no clue who I am talking to I hope you don’t take this too personal….I have always called anonymous bloggers “cowards”, especially the ones that chose to attack me and say mean & heartless things towards Jarrid!!!

    I personally do not “dismiss” comments from anonymous bloggers, but I do only take it with a grain of salt. I will back you up on that you have never abused that priviledge, your comments have always been respectful.
    I believe “bullied” is a poor choice of word for 2 reasons….1 being the subject and its sensitivity, and 2 because I do not belive it is.

    @ Anne-Marie, stick to your guns and don’t regret anything!

  10. Maybe someone can explain to me how you charge teenagers as adults with Felonies charges as you close your eyes to a Mayor that has cheated the community out of thousands of dollars in school taxes?

    Jay is absolutely right, where are our leaders? They should be leading by example. This administration has been chasing its tail from day one and it gets worse by the day. I am not sure where they are now but this is where he should be.

    Maybe we should be sending these school children to the Ethics committee, just as we did for the Mayor?

  11. Mr. Sears,

    Unfortunately, it appears you’re correct in that we have no leaders in Rye. This did not happen overnight.

    Here is what our current leaders are up to.

    I notice that you did not include the press when you went looking for leaders. That is unfortunate. While I applaud your courage to raise this issue in the manner that you did, it has been a long time coming.

    Our would-be leaders in Rye apparently have no fear of their misdeeds, mismanagement and actual corruption being properly reported. This leads to no accountability from our would-be leaders and leads to where we are today.

    We also have a city manager, a police commissioner and a mayor bullying some members of the press when they dare to report on real news that may be negative about them.

    We also have deputy mayor, who along with his wife, have hijacked The Rye Record in service to their own per$onal and political agenda$.

    Does The Rye Record headline that Suzanna Keith “handed off her mantel” to Mrs. Killian sound familiar and still make you cringe? Wait till tonight when it finally actually happens.

    We have Dr. Shine telling the world that this type of hazing is “not a tradition in Rye” when it is a well known fact that it is. In my house this is called a lie. In Rye it seems to have become almost standard operating procedure.

    We have a police commissioner telling the press that the Rye Police had to turn this case over to the County Police. That is a dodge. This incident started in front of City Hall on City of Rye property and the Rye Police should be lead agency from start to finish. Why did the commissioner push it off on the County Police? Political pressure?

    Then the County Police not only released the names of the accused, they released their mug shots as well. Because the accused are minors, I found this to be very disturbing and deplorable. If the commissioner had not pushed this to the County Police in all likelihood this would not have happened.

    We have a Mayor who over the course of the last year has at best been distracted with very serious and documented allegations against him that have not been properly investigated to date. The mayor should have resigned months ago. As it stands we now have a city manager who stands accused of lying to the public and to the city council. And he did it bald faced on video.

    We have a school district continually obsessed with AP courses, their ranking in Newsweek and secrecy about anything tangible that could diminish their reputation.

    I believe Rye should go to a City Council/Supervisor/Mayor form of government as they have in Harrison. We do not need a $200,000 a year politically appointed City Manager who has to do the personal bidding of certain council members.

    If an elected Supervisor/Mayor who would have to be from Rye and would therefore have roots in Rye doesn’t do a good job – or stands accused of serious allegations – he or she doesn’t get re-elected in elections scheduled for every two years for all City Council members and the Supervisor/Mayor.

    If you really want leadership in Rye it’s time to get rid of today’s self dealing pretend leaders.

    Because without real accountability – there can be no real leadership.

  12. I’m not sure what I think about the whole sad situation but i do know this much . The minors whose names were given to the media should get the best damn lawyers they can afford and go after Westchester County police for doing this .

    Had this happened in Port Chester , it would have barely made the media and you can be rest assured the names of the MINORS would never have been released .

    The media loved this story because the media hates towns like Rye full of successful people and a school system among tops in the nation .

  13. Folks, as I posted yesterday, arrest records are public as long as they are not minors. Youthful Offender status can only be granted by a judge. By that time, the horse has left the barn. This is a Catch-22.

    AS for WCPD taking over jurisdiction, it is the correct call. The top charge (felony assault) took place on county property. RPD has no jurisdction there. Same as if it had happened at Playland. The top charge trumps the two misdemeanors.

    So stop coming up with conspiracy theories. We have enough problems here without making up more.

  14. We have two full-grown adults who work for the City of Rye that stand accused of a felony crime. One is the highest ranking official in the city, the man who runs our government, City Manager Scott Pickup.

    If Mr. Pickup, and/or his alleged accomplice, Nicole Levitsky of Rye TV, consciously intended to conceal a public record from the public (and our elected officials, as alleged) they’d be guilty of Tampering With Public Records–a felony crime under NY State Penal Code 175.25–punishable by up to 7-yrs in prison.

    Aside from these nasty allegations, Mr. Pickup seems like a nice enough guy. The same could be said of the high school kids who are charged in the hazing incident, I’m sure.

    The only difference is, the actions of the 16 & 17-yr-old boys were investigated as soon as they came to light. They will be held accountable, according to the law, for anything they did or did not do, and they will have to bear the public and private burden of such.

    On the other hand, Mayor French and the City Council–the only body under local law with the authority to administer oaths, take testimony and conduct investigations–has shielded Mr. Pickup and Ms. Levitsky by refusing to investigate the allegations leveled against them.

    It has been four months to this very day since a city employee spilled the beans on his superiors. Yet, neither of those individuals (who are paid over $250,000/yr in combined salary by the taxpayers) has been made to answer even a single question in response to the allegations.

    At the same time, the 23-year-old accuser, a Rye High School grad himself, has been served a written reprimand by the city manager (which he is fighting in court); has been confronted and called immature and naive by an ex-city judge and current member of the Ethics Board; has been frozen out of his normal work duties; has experienced ‘unexpected’ delays in being approved by the City Council as a volunteer firefighter; and has basically been treated, on a daily basis, as if it were he who intended to defraud the public by those who he’s accused.

    Sounds like organized bullying to me.

    Nonetheless, we do have leaders in Rye. We hold elections every so often to figure out who they will be. It is their job to then faithfully represent the people of Rye.

    Unfortunately––through their documented failure to properly deal with accusations of felony charges and ethical lapses within their own ranks––they have already made their statement.

    Their message is loud and clear: 16 & 17-year-old kids in Rye accused of felony crimes will be investigated, charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Adults in positions of power will not be. Instead, they will be shielded. They will be protected. Their accuser will be punished.

    There is something very wrong with a society that will prosecute its children for crimes that they dare not investigate adults for.

    That something is not a lack of leadership, it is weak leadership.


  15. @Jim re timing of School Board notice – Malarky. The Board made a statemtn at their meeting at 8pm, long before Ray’s story was posted. In fact, I exchanged e-mails with Ray on this subject (at his instigation) last evening and pointed out the posts that had already been made to myRye. I guess he missed them.

    @Anne-Marie Pensanti – Please, please, please continue to post and to post under your real name. I will disagree with you at times, but the chance to actually engage with you is only made possible by knowing who you are.

    Those hiding behind “stage names” will always find an excuse for so doing. Better that they not post than that they pretend that they have a valid reason making comments from which they can run away when they are proven wrong.


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