Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Management Upheaval At Roosevelt Island Youth Center Continues - RIOC Removes Newly Hired, Well Liked And Respected Director Today

After a bitter and contentious community battle to remove the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) and it's Executive Director Charlie Defino as the long time operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) initiated an interim after school drop in program for children in grades 2-8 beginning March 5. On March 17, RIOC added an evening program for youth ages 13-21.

RIOC hired the well liked and respected former RIYP Director Roy Magsisi

 Roy Magisi (center) With RI Youth Center Kids at RIYP March 2 Last Day Farewell

to manage it's interim Youth Center.

Today, RIOC Director Of Operations Shelton Haynes informed Mr. Magsisi

that he was being fired effective immediately. At least one other former RIYP employee who RIOC hired for the Interim Youth Center was also fired. According to Mr. Magsisi, no reason was given by RIOC for his firing other than:
We are moving in a different direction.
After learning of his dismissal, Mr Magsisi sent this email to the families who rely upon the Roosevelt Island Youth Center:
I regret to inform you all that I have been terminated from my position at the Youth Center with RIOC, effective immediately.

It has been a remarkable and humbling experience serving the youth community of Roosevelt Island. I have seen many of them grow (so quickly!) in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many of your younger children. The children, YOUR children give me so much hope for the future of the community, the Island and our society.

Unfortunately, the Piano classes and SAT Prep classes are suspended indefinitely.

I feel so terribly disappointed - in myself. I've let you all down. For that, I am so sorry and I will regret not doing or fighting enough.
During a March 4 community meeting, Mr Magsisi expressed his plans for the interim center including continuing the RIYP practice of keeping children in the Youth Center in the event parents are late in picking them up after 6 PM.

RIOC had no comment today regarding the reason for firing Mr. Magsisi. However, RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson reported:
...Erica Spencer-El, a long-time RIOC community relations manager has been promoted to Director of Community Affairs and the youth center will be one of her new management assignments, in addition to oversight of Community Relations and Island-wide events. More details on additional staff and programming additions, the scheduled renovation of the center and RIOC’s efforts to create a youth soccer program will be forthcoming.
Below are the new RIOC rules and regulations for the Roosevelt Island Youth Center:
The following guidelines and rules have been developed in an effort to help all of us achieve our objective of operating a safe, supervised, and drug/alcohol-free facility for the enjoyment and benefit of all Youth Center patrons and staff of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.

All participants of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center agree to that the following rules apply to all and that disobeying them may result in a ban from the Youth Center program.

1. Most important: Join in, have fun, and let others have fun too.

2. All participants must sign in at the start of every session.

3. Generally, all participants must sign out at the conclusion of a session. In the event a participant does leave a session early, the participant must sign out, and leave the premises. Participants in the fifth grade or higher may sign out on their own; participants in grades below the fifth grade must be signed out by an authorized person listed on the participant’s Youth Center Contact Information Form.

4. RESPECT EVERYONE: members, staff, and visitors.

5. No bullying, fighting, swearing or theft.

6. No excessive rowdiness or other inappropriate behavior.

7. No discrimination: participants are to treat everyone fairly.

8. No alcohol, drugs, or smoking anywhere inside or around the immediate areas of the Youth Center– NO EXCEPTIONS! Anyone suspected by our adult staff to be under the influence of drugs, in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, or having used drugs, alcohol or any controlled substance, of possessing a weapon, will result in their parents being contacted.

9. Anyone found to be in possession of drugs, alcohol or any controlled substance, including drug paraphernalia or any weapon, while inside the Youth Center or its surrounding areas, will be immediately reported to the Public Safety Department, parents will be called, and the participant will be prohibited from using the Youth Center.

10. No littering: Participants are expected to use all bins, trashcans, and exercise a reasonable effort to keep the Youth Center looking tidy, neat and clean.

11. No running inside the Youth Center facility.

12. No playing of dangerous games.

13. Health and safety rules apply at all times.

14. No damage, vandalism or graffiti of any kind to personal or public property.

15. Keep computer use clean and safe (If you don’t know, ASK!)

16. No food or drink is allowed on the 2nd Floor.

17. If you have an allergy, you must inform Youth Center Staff and also include such information on the Youth Center Contact Information Form.

18. Absolutely no products that contain nuts, or nut bi-products, will be allowed on the premises.

Stay tuned for more.

UPDATE 4/11 - RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson adds:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has scheduled an informational meeting for parents of the Island’s Youth Center participants this Saturday, April 14 at 5 p.m. to allow senior leaders to discuss and answer questions about recent staff and policy changes.

On Tuesday, RIOC promoted Erica Spencer-EL as its new Director of Community Affairs and made the center’s management her priority directive. Steven Ayala, Johanne Enama and Abhipsha “Abby” Mainali all joined RIOC as interim staff members in the past month and will continue to help run the Center’s operations.

Roy Magsisi, the Center’s previous director is no longer affiliated with RIOC and the Youth Center as of Tuesday, April 10. As a result, the piano and homework assistance classes, previously taught by Magsisi, are suspended temporarily. “We would like to thank Roy for his work in helping keep the Center open for our young people,” said RIOC Chief Operating Officer Shelton Haynes.

A detailed set of facility rules and policies has been recently released also. “Our objective is and remains, since assuming management of the Center’s operations March 5, is to develop the Center, and its structured programming, into something that parents, students and staff could all enjoy,” Haynes said.

At the parents meeting, to be held at the 506 Main St. facility, Haynes and Spencer-EL will discuss the recent personnel and policy moves, the creation of a Parents Advisory Committee, center hours (currently weekdays from 2:45 p.m. – 6 p.m. for students in grades 2 – 8; and 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. for youth ages 13 – 21), its planned renovation schedule and future programming, including an eight-week youth soccer skills workshop and tournament.