I have been scrutinizing notes handwritten four years ago by Michael Stricos, director of human resources for the Schenectady City School District, and although they are fragmented and disjointed, as notes often are, one thing stands out: Stricos was well aware of the behavior of the school district’s head of buildings and grounds, the now-notorious Steve Raucci.
In his notes of a phone conversation “w/ Steve,” on April 26, 2005, Stricos wrote, “If I can make Hal and Debbie’s life miserable — that is what I’m going to do,” apparently quoting Raucci, and followed by a question mark, which seems to indicate a question on Stricos’ part.
Hal and Debbie are Harold and Deborah Gray, both of whom worked under Raucci and whose home and vehicles were vandalized, allegedly by Raucci. Deborah Gray’s son, Ryan Rakoske, had protested his own treatment to Stricos, as well as the treatment of his mother and stepfather, and much of Stricos’ notes concerns those complaints.
Raucci was angry at Deborah Gray because he believed she was the author of an anonymous letter that was sent to the president of the Capital Region CSEA, claiming Raucci’s management was like something out of a gangster movie. (Raucci was simultaneously department manager and president of the CSEA local representing the 125 workers he managed.)
I had often wondered how the letter happened to get back to Raucci, and now my leading suspicion is confirmed. Stricos refers to it in his notes as “anonymous letter from Campon,” apparently referring to Michael Campon, the CSEA delegate to the Schenectady local and a close friend of Jeff Janiszewski, then president of the school board and still a member of it.
“If him and your mother do not back off, plain and simple I will beat you up,” Stricos wrote at another point, apparently quoting Raucci, either directly or indirectly, and referring to the Grays and to Rakoske. Following which he wrote, “No.”
He quotes Raucci as telling a staff meeting, “We don’t want any [crude name for people] around here,” and then, “Called Debbie a [vile anatomical name for a woman] and Hal a [vulgar word for excrement] — then distributed work papers.”
I omit the obscenities as unfit for a family newspaper, but they are not omitted in Stricos’ notes. If you could read them for yourself, you would get the flavor of how things were done in the Schenectady school district.
Allow me to mention for the record that Stricos, in his capacity as director of human resources, did not discipline Raucci, nor did anyone else in the school administration. Rather Raucci continued his unique form of management right up until he was arrested in February of this year.
Did Stricos know about the spray painting of the Grays’ house in Saratoga County overnight from April 30 to May 1, 2005?
He wrote in his notes: “w/e 4/30-5/1 — parents house spray painted? Aware of incident.”
He recorded on Sunday, May 1: “visited by police — investigating vandalism.” And on May 4, after Raucci allegedly led a caravan of his employees up to the Grays’ to see what happens to people who cross him, Stricos wrote, “Drive by — Steve Raucci [plus another name, unclear] … Guys were in shop. Steve asked them to go up to see the damage. 3 vans — drove by.”
I also note that on June 23, at the final meeting of the Schenectady Board of Education under the presidency of Jeff Janiszewski, the board voted 5-2 to extend the employment contract of Michael Stricos for another year, even though it still had a year to go. So he’s locked in until July 2011.
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