While custodians stuffed envelopes urging city residents to support the school budget in 2006, bathrooms were left dirty and in one case feces was left on the floor for hours, according to emails released by the Schenectady City School District.
The incidents occurred in May 2006 and appeared to deeply frustrate high school staff — but Facilities Director Steve Raucci simply said they would have to put up with it.
“As for being short-staffed, we are in a difficult situation with the lack of substitutes to temporarily fill vacancies or absences … unfortunately we have to make do with what we have for the time being,” he wrote.
Without temps to cover for the custodians, some bathrooms in the high school were abandoned on envelope-stuffing days. House Principal Margaret Normandin wrote several emails on May 16 and May 17, 2006, detailing the problems.
Among them: One of the faculty bathrooms and girls’ bathroom had no toilet paper, a major embarrassment because visitors were heading into the school for a performance at the Black Box Theater.
“Girls had resorted to paper towels,” Normandin wrote, explaining that she found a custodian and got more toilet paper before the performance began.
The worker told her that “the reason they had not been done was that he and others had been called from the building to stuff envelopes for CSEA [on the clock],” she wrote.
Richard Serapilio, house principal for the school of math, science and technology, was one of the many people copied on Normandin’s emails. He responded by asking, “Were our custodians called to stuff envelopes on district time? We can not compromise the health of students and staff at SHS [Schenectady High School] for these reasons.”
Normandin wasn’t as concerned about their pay as she was about the state of the bathrooms.
“My question would also be … were they called away Monday night as well? Or why did they not get cleaned again Monday night?” she wrote in response to Serapilio.
She then wrote about an incident that got Associate Superintendent Arnold Spadafora to contact Raucci. “Also yesterday [Tuesday] Bernie called Custodial Staff [at approximately lunchtime] that a male student had defecated on the bathroom floor on the first floor FA,” she wrote, referring to the Fine Arts wing. “We had to lock the boys room to avoid a bigger problem. The odor permeated throughout the hall and connecting dance studio.”
No one was available to clean it up until the second shift custodians arrived, she wrote.
Spadafora immediately forwarded the email to Raucci, asking simply, “Please look into this.”
A few hours later, Raucci wrote back with an explanation.
“There was some minor confusion with the times and it all has been resolved,” he wrote.
He said the feces was not cleaned up because a particular custodian was stuffing envelopes, but stressed that it was the worker’s choice.
“I assure you, no one was ‘called away’ from their shift and told they had to stuff envelopes. [Worker] took it upon himself to sign out and lend a hand,” he wrote.
The district redacted the worker’s name, in one of the very few examples thus far of redactions.
Spadafora seemed content with Raucci’s explanation. In his response, he did not bring up the matter again, moving instead to a discussion about better ventilation in the gymnasium during the upcoming Regents exams.