Consultant to probe officials’ knowledge of Raucci conduct

Thursday, April 2, 2009
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— The Board of Education on Wednesday hired an independent consultant to investigate what district officials knew about retired facilities director Steven Raucci’s alleged workplace misconduct.

Rachel Rissetto, human resource director for the Clinton Essex Warren Washington BOCES, will investigate allegations that Raucci sexually harassed and intimidated colleagues. She will be paid $100 per hour.

The board did not set a cap on her fee. School Attorney Shari Greenleaf said she did not know how long the investigation would take but said it would be more than just a couple of days.

Rissetto was selected from three finalists interviewed and about a dozen considered. Greenleaf said the district wanted somebody who had no prior association or relationship with the district.

Rissetto has worked for CEWW BOCES since 2000 and in her present position deals with personnel issues and employee discipline on a daily basis. Her other duties include health insurance coordination, contract negotiations for 17 school districts and arbitrations.

Greenleaf said the investigation would begin immediately and Rissetto would be given “unfettered access” to documents and anybody involved in this matter.

Last month, the board accepted Raucci’s retirement from his position. The 60-year-old Niskayuna resident is facing charges in three counties for allegedly planting explosive devices in what Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney has said is a pattern of intimidation.

During the course of the criminal case, Carney also alleged that Raucci had won a school district power struggle and that “higher-ups were beholden to him.”

The investigation will only focus on the allegations of workplace misconduct. One such allegation is that he distributed a memo to a new female hire to “Take time every day to keep your appearance pleasing for your supervisor.”

In addition, the district is also being sued for $8 million by former employee Ronald Kriss, who alleges harassment by Raucci dating from May 2003 through October 2006. Kriss said he suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and an anxiety disorder and Raucci allegedly made demeaning comments against him. Kriss won a workers’ compensation ruling in his favor.

Board President Jeff Janiszewski said the district has spoken with Carney about the matter and he is not opposed to the district’s investigation. “At this time he is not able to share any of his evidence,” he said.

Janiszewski said the investigation will be transparent and thorough.

“I think it’s very important to do this to maintain the trust in our school system,” he said.

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April 2, 2009
5:39 a.m.
ella says...

I hope Ms. Rissetto comes to all the schools and speaks to anyone she wants, with no interference from administrators. She must look into the friendship of board members and Raucci also.
if done correctly, the city will be surprised at the level of knowledge that HR, ELY and the board had on Raucci but did nothing.
Employees know lots, but will they talk?

April 2, 2009
11:01 p.m.
LeRenardRouge says...

They should have dug deeper into Ms Rissetto's background. She is a BFF of Management and Board Members. Just looking at her job duties tells me she is owned & controlled by Superintendents & BOE members - not the rank & file workers. Her role is to negotiate against NYSUT and CSEA members in delivering contracts for management. A very biased & poor choice. This smells like more coverup by Ely & the current HR Director.

If they had really looked into her background they would have discovered that she is a native of Waterford NY & has close ties to the Capital District. She was a BOE member at Waterford-Halfmoon School District prior to her employment at CEWW BOCES - under her previous name of Rachel Steele. She is also the niece of Robert Zordan the Human Resources Director at Capital Region BOCES. Unbiased and no relationship with the district - yeah, right. Last time I checked Schenectady SD was aligned with the Capital Region BOCES. The BOCES must be pulling strings behind the scenes to make Ely & his minions look good after this mess. I am certain that she was hired by the board & superintendent to deliver the report they want to give. I would bet my salary that her "independent" report will find no wrong doing on the part of administrators or the Board members and that there was no evidence of Raucci's behavior during his 30+ years in the district.

A complete waste of taxpayer dollars. They should have hired a legal firm with no relationship to the district not someone from within the inbred school community in NYS.

April 3, 2009
7:43 p.m.
insidescsd says...

Rachel Risetto is a director for NYState Assoc of Management Advocates for School Labor Affairs(MASLA)

SCSD Attorney Shari Greenleaf, SCSD lawyer, is the president of MASLA.

April 13, 2009
8:33 p.m.
LinnM says...

In regards to LeRenardRouge's comment, it is completely off base and without merit. If research had been completed before writing a comment he/she would have seen that Ms. Risetto's previous work experience had been publicized on the school district's website, including her involvement in Waterford. In addition there were several people interviewed for that position and Ms. Risetto is extremely qualified. The fact that she has capital district ties has nothing to do with Schenectady County as Waterford is not in the same county. Where she lives and who she is related to has no bearing on the investigation itself as there is no evidence that she knows the alleged perpetrator or any of the people involved in the investigation.

In addition the fact that Ms. Risetto is related to an employee of the Capital Region BOCES doesn't mean that she cannot complete an unbias and thorough investigation. If you looked into her activities in her current position you would see that she is able to work bi-partisn and without bias. Her name, relatives, or where she grew up has nothing to do with her capabilities as an independant investigator.

The allegations at Schenectady County is a tragedy, and should be thoroughly investigated. I am confident that Ms. Risetto will be able to complete an unbias investigation, and believe that she should be given the chance to prove herself, not scrunized for where she has lived or who her relatives are.

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