2004-07-23 / Community

Colman Genn, Who Brought Down CSB 27, Dead At 68

By Howard Schwach


Colman Genn, right, with Josephine Schwindt, his Deputy at a 1989 school board meeting.
Colman Genn, right, with Josephine Schwindt, his Deputy at a 1989 school board meeting. Colman Genn had a profound impact on education in Rockaway as well as in New York City as a whole, but few here not connected to the public school system will remember his name.

Fifteen years ago, Genn, the Superintendent of Community School Board 27, became a public hero for wearing a wire while holding discussions with school board members who were coercing him to choose administrators on the basis of cronyism and race rather than on merit.

Genn wore the wire as part of a school board investigation being run by The Joint Commission on Integrity in the School System, most often call the Gill Commission for the man who was the chair.

The conversations and the findings of the commission were made public in October of 1989. Wave staffers who were aiding the investigators were present at those hearings.

“[Genn’s tapes] made it clear that the old school board system was ready for the scrap heap, a setup that often worked against the city’s children,” Newsday said in an editorial marking his death. “He found that school board members cost the district around $1 million a year in unnecessary paraprofessionals alone.

As a result of the commission’s report, the entire school board was suspended and three trustees were put in place to replace them until a trustee board could be put in place.

Two board members were indicted on charges of fraudulent use of the mails and coercion. They pled guilty and were sentenced to community service.

Genn died last week of respiratory problems.

He was 68.


Genn, right, with then Borough President Clair Shulman at a dinner honoring him for his work with the Gill Commission.
Genn, right, with then Borough President Clair Shulman at a dinner honoring him for his work with the Gill Commission. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, right, honors Genn at the 1989 dinner.
Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, right, honors Genn at the 1989 dinner. In late 1989, school board members at a meeting. From left, Pat Tubridy, Sam Granirer, Coleen Edmondson, James Sullivan and Frank Guluscio.
In late 1989, school board members at a meeting. From left, Pat Tubridy, Sam Granirer, Coleen Edmondson, James Sullivan and Frank Guluscio.

Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History

 

 

Check Out News Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Riding the Wave with Mark Healey on BlogTalkRadio