Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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Mamaroneck High School Principal to Retire

The timing may or may not have been coincidental, but on the same day that students were protesting the denial of tenure for a Mamaroneck High School English teacher, the principal who recommended the denial unexpectedly announced he would retire at the end of the school year in June.

Dr. Mark Orfinger, Mamaroneck High School principal for the past 13 years, called an extra faculty meeting on Tuesday, April 6, to announce his retirement.

“It was a big surprise to me,” said Mamaroneck School Board President Linnet Tse. “The board learned about it quite suddenly [on Tuesday] – no reasons were given,” she said. “I was stunned to hear the news.”

Dr. Mark Orfinger presides over Mamaroneck High School's graduation in 2009.

On Wednesday, the district’s public information officer had more details from Dr. Orfinger. “”He and his wife made a joint decision to retire last week during spring vacation,” said Debbie Manetta. “His wife has been an elementary school teacher for many years in Ardsley and they have been leading very active, hectic lives.”

She also reported that Dr. Orfinger said there was no connection between his retirement and the tenure issue.

Dr. Orfinger is 61 and his career in New York State public education spans 40 years. He began as an English teacher in the Bronx. Before coming to Mamaroneck, he was the principal of Truman High School in Manhattan.

Although retirees may work outside the New York system or outside the state and still receive a pension, Dr. Orfinger indicated he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, traveling, biking and “taking advantage of the many cultural opportunities in Manhattan,” according to a statement issued by the district later on Wednesday.

Mamaroneck’s superintendent, Dr. Paul Fried, is himself retiring from New York public education in July (although he will become the superintendent in Montville, New Jersey).

Ms. Manetta said Dr. Fried has already been speaking about the MHS principalship with the incoming superintendent, Dr. Robert Shaps. “They will be working together immediately to begin the replacement process,” said Ms. Manetta.

During Dr. Orfinger’s Tenure

The district’s release highlighted Dr. Orfinger’s accomplishments. During his time in Mamaroneck, the high school underwent significant construction, including the development of a science wing, the centralization of the guidance department, and the development of the new library, café and Post Road entrance.

He is “particularly proud of expansion of student activities and student leadership endeavors; promotion of a strong and challenging academic program; development of supplementary academic/social support programs, and strengthening of a vibrant elective program.”

Dr. Orfinger also “points to the hiring and support of more than a 100 staff members selected during his tenure who have blended beautifully with more experienced staff,” and he speaks fondly of the more than 3500 students to which he has awarded diplomas. “I will always feel deeply connected to this school, its students and the entire community, which has been so supportive during my tenure,” he stated.

Ironically, Dr. Orfinger’s decision to deny tenure to MHS English teacher Jennifer Rosenzweig has put him in conflict with many of these students and teachers.

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37 comments to Mamaroneck High School Principal to Retire

  • Eleanor

    It took “students to up rise and march on the district” against Dr. Orfinger’s bully tactics. How many children, parents, and teachers has he caused to suffer while the district looked on?

    May I remind our community Mark Orfinger is also the cause of great conflict, causing a parent to sue the district for violation and discrimination of a child with a learning disability, and his “bully behavior” is the subject of current law books taught in Law Schools throughout the country?

    Mark Orfinger “denied a math learning disabled student the use of a calculator which was approved by NYS.” He told the student “you may bring the calculator to school, but you may not turn it on, and you may not use it in or out of school for course work.”

    Congratulations to the students and parents who made a difference and drove Dr. Orfinger into retirement.

  • Grant Nishanian

    I was privileged to be a student in Mamaroneck High School when this man became principal. From the early beginnings he proved his ignorance.

    As a learning disabled student, I was privileged to work with many teachers and faculty who would bend over backwards to help a student out that just didn’t get it. Having a math learning disability is not something I chose, but something that I had to deal with. Assistive technology was one way that I dealt with my problem. It allowed me to be on the same level as fellow students. New York State Education accepted the device and even encouraged its use. Dr. Orfinger did not. Difference scared him and he did all he could to prevent its use. After several biased hearings and a several year lawsuit, I excelled after having to take a math class through another school and transfer the credits back.

    What’s really funny is that, now, ten years later they are using the exact same assistive technology that I tried to use years earlier. I guess having a double standard is ok for this district.

    From standing there, letting a good friend of mine be physically and mentally attacked for her personal choices to his dealings with minorities and even those with special needs (like myself), he always proved that he just didn’t get it. He always favored those who lived on the right streets, and had the right politically influenced parents. I truly believe there can be no one worse off. Good riddance, and hopefully the board picks a replacement with higher standards.

  • Fred Benton

    I’m asking a point of clarification: Grant or Elanor (or anyone else who knows about this), could you explain a bit more about this calculator? What did it do that other calculators did not?

  • Grant Nishanian

    The calculator (TI-89 or TI-92) is a graphing calculator that can perform advanced equations. It can perform more complicated functions than a simple four function calculator. As someone who has trouble with what “normal” people consider very simple math, it allowed me to perform the steps at a level similar to my classmates. I was still able to show my work and my comprehension of the material as per teacher instructions.

  • Eleanor

    Dr. Orfinger felt that Grant would have advantages using these calculators over “math able students.” Instead, he ordered him to use a model that would not allow Grant to get to the answer mechanically, and ordered him to use a deficient model along with “paper multiplication tables.” He knew that Grant was severely math learning disabled and didn’t care. Grant had just returned as a 15 year old from interning at IBM TJ Watson Research working in their “think tank” in coming up with new ideas for technology. Then he ran into Dr. Orfinger’s bullying. IBM, NYS Regents, the SAT Board all allowed Grant to use these calculator models.

    I don’t think that Dr. Orfinger could use a 4 function calculator himself. He was totally ignorant in the use of technology and calculators. NYS Education Department begged him to allow Grant to use this model, and he told me that “he didn’t care what NYS said…this was his school and he could do what he wanted.” This is the kind of arrogance that the man has.

    It took the Class of 2010 to force him into retirement before he can bully others. As a parent of a learning disabled child, I could have easily pulled him out of MHS. They offered us a “blank check” for private school. But Grant felt that he wasn’t going to be pushed out just because he needed assistive technology to level the playing field, and insisted on staying at MHS. As a parent, we all have to support our children not only in words but in actions. I sued the district, went to Federal Court where I won, and the district appealed the case to the Appellate where they told me because of a loophole, I had to start over. Grant was graduating college by then and told me to stop because his greatest revenge is “his own success.”

    I knew that as a parent, I did the right thing.

  • Fred Benton

    Thanks for the explanation about the calculators. I’m still a bit confused. I work in a school right now; we have class sets of TI-92s for our students. They were standard fare when I was a student teacher. I was required to buy a graphing calculator when I attended MHS.

    How did Dr. Orfinger go about preventing Grant from using the calculator?

    • Fred Benton

      Oops, we provide TI-84s, not 92s.

      • Eleanor

        Fred, Dr. Orfinger wrote a policy statement that Grant may not turn on his TI 92 Graphing Calculator in school or use it for homework. His math teacher was given this letter. Dr. Orfinger said he was not denying Grant “access” to the
        TI 92, because Grant could bring it to class but ordered he may not turn it on.

  • Scratching my head on this one

    Excuse me for budding in here…but how come Grant could master “advanced graphing equations” but not simple math w/out a calculator?

    I guess I would wonder how a student was able to understand and perform, w/ or w/out a calculator, in an advanced Math class – yet unable to perform simple math equations – or “normal” math equations as Grant states – w/out a specialized calculator.

    I can see why this might raise some eyebrows – it’s rather unusal……but I guess Rainman may have also had some unusual tendencies and unable to perform basic tasks but his mind was like a computer.

    However, Grant sounds VERY normal to me here. I wonder if Dr. Orfinger was skeptical because it’s a very unusual request for such a bright student?? Just wondering….

    LOL – on a sidenote, did anyone read the recent study published on Spanking in America?? It says that children who are spanked more than 2x/week before age 3 are more likely to be bullies…..anyone know if Dr. Orfinger was spanked as a youngster? According to Eleanor, he is a bully so I am just wondering what the root cause of his tactics may be ;-)

  • Scratching my head on this one

    GRANT: I must correct you on one point of your statement; there are no “right” or “wrong” streets in Larchmont – they are… alright!!

  • Eleanor

    Are these the traits of a Principal who is a Bully? You decide!

    “Who Bullies?”

    “Both guys and girls can be bullies. Bullies may be outgoing and aggressive. Or a bully can appear reserved on the surface, but may try to manipulate people in subtle, deceptive ways, like anonymously starting a damaging rumor just to see what happens.

    Many bullies share some common characteristics. They like to dominate others and are generally focused on themselves. They often have poor social skills and poor social judgment. Sometimes they have no feelings of empathy or caring toward other people.

    Although most bullies think they’re hot stuff and have the right to push people around, others are actually insecure. They put other people down to make themselves feel more interesting or powerful. And some bullies act the way they do because they’ve been hurt by bullies in the past — maybe even a bullying figure in their own family, like a parent or other adult.”

    Some bullies actually have personality disorders that don’t allow them to understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These people need help from a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist.”

    Quoted from:

    Ponder some questions such as:

    Did a Principal, who majored in English as a college student, become envious of a female, attractive, much younger teacher, who has style, charisma, and is beloved by her students because she was more talented than he was? Did this Principal use his ability to withhold tenure because he is a bully who wanted to assert his power and control over her.

    Why did a Principal who may not respect people with different abilities, intentionally cripple a student who just returned from interning at IBM TJ Watson Research for his technology strengths? Did the Principal assert his power and control not only over the handicapped student but New York State Education Department?

    What motivates a person to act that way?

  • law record

    I looked up this case to find the legal record. You can read the whole record here:

    Here is what I found:

    The teachers and administrators were in agreement that success in Math 3A involved more than simply arriving at the right answer. For example, Ms. Peikes testified that students also had “to show the mathematical steps to solve a problem.” Several of the School District witnesses also testified that the TI-92 was not an appropriate assistive learning device in this regard because it would allow Grant to answer questions without demonstrating any understanding of the underlying mathematical concepts. For example, Ms. Geraldine Brause, Grant’s ninth-grade algebra teacher, testified, “I worry about the TI-92 stopping that [process of understanding] and it would be just hitting a button, you get an answer and there’s no convincing argument that shows me that the student understands the process and has learned something.” Ms. Garcia-Marruz stated that “[t]he calculator model [TI-92] denies us the ability to see if G[rant] knows what he’s doing and has taken the steps necessary to solve the problem.”

    Grant himself testified that the TI-82 was sufficient for him to answer questions in Math 3A: “Using the TI 82 I could prove my work to Ms. Peikes by writing the steps she would like me to show. On some examples it takes me a very, very, long time to find the answer.” Additionally, Ms. Brause testified that if an assistive technology device proved incapable of directing a student to the right answer, then some form of alternative assessment would be devised to measure and assess the student’s performance.

    During one part of the consultation, Grapka had Grant review his wrong answers on an earlier math midterm. In three instances, without the assistance of a calculator, Grant solved problems he had gotten wrong or partially wrong on the midterm. He solved another question by using the TI-92, but conceded that his entry of the data “only shows that I know[] how to press buttons. I know more than that.”

    • Grant Nishanian

      Thank You for the segment of the suit that you posted. I appriciate that you took the time and interest to explore the case further.

      Please see “Special Education Law: Cases and Materials. Second Edition. Page 182, Sherman v. Mamaroneck Union Free School District.” It’s published by Lexus Nexus. It’s an excellent case review done by Mark Weber and some others. I hope you get the chance to review it.

  • Eleanor

    Tax payers should question the “heavy thousands and thousands of dollars spent in legal fees” by the district because Mark Orfinger “wanted to deny a student a calculator model?” That is the question that law students and a legal textbook are pondering. Why would they do this?

    Districts can use legal tactics to try and financially injure the opposition. If they keep appealing, it costs the parents money in court and legal fees. It is a method used to exhaust the parent from pursuing justice.

    I think that residents should also start wondering about how much we are paying in legal fees as part of our budget. Often they are not showing up in the budget line.

    I am not going to argue the case online. We won in Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The district appealed the case, and the Court of Appeals notified us to start all over because of a technicality having to do with the judge.

    To give a brief insight into the politics of the case, this was part of the tactic used.

    The TI82 could not allow him to get “answers” which was required for a grade. Mr. Grapka was hired by the district and entertained for the weekend at the Crowne Plaza at our expense, and had zero background in calculator use, And pushing buttons on a calculator does show more than just pushing buttons, it is called “programming” which was a concept that none of the administrators understood. Mrs. Brause special personal issues, was a math teacher and could never go against Dr. Orfinger. She was promoted to Math Chair Person after the case. Ms. Peikes did not know how to use the TI92 and did not want to learn she said. Grant never testified that the TI82 was sufficient and that is why we went to court. We introduced evidence from Texas Instrument documenting our claim.

    You play the game, or you are out of the district. You can see from what is happening to Ms. Rosenzweig.

  • Rule of Law


    I tried to look up the materials you suggested but they aren’t available online. Is there an easy way to get the text of that page?

    When I searched for “Sherman v. Mamaroneck Union Free School District” I found a record from the US Court of Appeals, second circuit (decided on 8.12.2003). Is that the case that you and Eleanor refer to?

    I’m confused because that case concludes with the court finding in favor of the appellant, which in this case is the school district. Do you have the link for the case you won?

    • Eleanor

      It was a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal’s Decision by Judge Brieant. I had trouble finding it online as well. I am sure that a Law Library would have it.

    • Grant Nishanian

      I’m sorry, I think you will need to reference a law library for that information.

    • Eleanor

      Rule of Law… why would you search for “Sherman v. Mamaroneck” since the name of “Sherman” was never mentioned in these comments? Are you a mind reader??? :-)

      • Rule of Law


        Grant mentioned that case in one of his comments (April 15th, 9:52 am):

        “Please see “Special Education Law: Cases and Materials. Second Edition. Page 182, Sherman v. Mamaroneck Union Free School District.” It’s published by Lexus Nexus. It’s an excellent case review done by Mark Weber and some others. I hope you get the chance to review it.”

        • Eleanor

          Rule of Law…the only problem is that Grant posted the case at 11:25 a.m. and you posted your quote citing the case at 8:53 a.m. on the same day. “Sherman” was never mentioned before your citation. I guess you really are a mind reader! :-) Or, you may be a person who was involved in the case in some way! Now I am “mind reading.” LOL :-)

          • Rule of Law


            I posted at 11:25. Grant posted at 9:52. Some other guy posted a link to the full case at 8:53 that included the name Sherman.

      • Anon E Mous

        One might guess that Rule of Law is familiar with Pandora’s Box as discussed recently in the Larchmont Gazette.

        Congratulation to you and your son. With your help, it is likely that he had an excellent education that will serve him and others well in the future – the unintentional results of the MUFSD’s actions and the intentional results of a actively concerned parent, you.

        And remember the words of Edward R. Murrow, ‘The obscure we see eventually, the completely apparent takes longer.’

        • Eleanor

          Thanks Anon E Mous. You can read between the lines. :-)
          The good news is that only Mark Orfinger had survived the case, and now will move into obscurity. ;-)

  • Fred


    It sounds like everything turned out ok for you in the end. Congratulations on your success. Did you end up continuing anything you worked on during your internship at IBM?

    • Grant Nishanian

      Actually I did. I continued my research in the Original Research program at MHS. What I was doing back then is now common. In 1996, having your house wired for internet was unheard of. Now it’s common, with everyone having a wi-fi router, and cellular phones for each family member. In 1996, you were lucky to have a 2nd phone line for your repeated attempts to connect to AOL via dialup. Remember 56K modems?

  • Anon E Mous

    Eleanor, you’re very welcome. We need more like you and your son, accepting responsibility and seeking solutions.

    Learning, to use a current phrase – should be 7×24. Classrooms can never be more than a part of learning and a good influence.

    Often it’s what’s not written or said that provides real meaning, so one needs to learn to read between the lines.

    There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. – James Thurber

  • Eleanor

    I stand corrected Rule of Law. ;-) It was another party.

  • Eleanor

    Anon E Mous, I think you would find this link interesting.

    “Raising Kids to Be Entrepreneurs” – Successful business leader passionate about raising kids to be entrepreneurs. For over 20 years, Cameron Herold has been coaching, speaking to, or helping entrepreneurs build companies on five continents. …

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our education system actually taught our children to become entrepreneurs as well.

    • Anon E Mous

      I did Eleanor, thank you.

      Schools must change radically, as they’ve too often become institutions rather than educators. More money is not the answer, less may very well be. Measurement and management and leadership is generally required for project success.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our schools – we don’t have an education system – educated all?

      You’ll probably agree with this: ‘Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.’ – Malcolm S. Forbes

      • Eleanor

        Yes, it would be wonderful if our education system allowed for differences and even was so bold as to encourage our “differences.” After all, we all have strengths and weaknesses.

        I go back to my old high school, and ask to speak to the lowest functioning classes. I share my experience as an underachieving student, who went on to a successful career as an entrepreneur and how I did it. After all, “if they don’t let you in the front door… there is always the back one.” :-)

        I constantly challenge myself and as a person, who is in the last third of my life, just became a “Woman Owned Business Government Contractor. Limitations are only what we set for ourselves. MHS could tap into our seniors and have a “Mentors Club” so that seniors can share our life experiences and mentor students.

  • Mission Accomplished

    Over a decade ago, I sued our Board of Education because Mark Orfinger denied my math LD son access to turn on a NYS approved calculator. My son Grant Nishanian asked me to use my voice to protect others that he left behind from the abuse of power and ignorance that Mark Orfinger showed.

    On April 25 Mamaroneck advertised for a new High School Principal, requesting that they have “a deep personal commitment to the success of all students and a willingness to advance a program predicated on the equity of access for all students, as well as experience in the differentiation of curriculum and instruction to close the achievement gap for at risk students.

    With the help of current MHS students who helped drive our MHS current Principal into retirement, our goals have been achieved. It’s not easy to take a stand against prejudice, lack of enlightenment, and people who don’t want to level the playing field for all. It is with great delight that I now have hope that things will change in the future for all students and that the playing field will be leveled for all those with learning differences. Eleanor Sherman

    • Anon E Mous

      You might be familiar with the phrase, “She has an ax to grind.” It might be time to let it go.

      • Anon E Mous

        IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, it’s been said, but Anon E Mous above is NOT from the original Anon E Mous, an imposter, lacking sense of style and substance. – Anon E Mous

      • Anon E Mous

        P.S. to the imposter: Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble. – Samuel Johnson

        • Anon E Mous

          E tu.

          A great many things have been pronounced untrue and absurd, and even impossible, by the highest authorities in the age in which they lived, which have afterwards, and, indeed, within a very short period, been found to be both possible and true. – Catherine Crowe

          Your use of quotes almost matches my style.

  • Mission Accomplished

    To the “Real Anon E Mous.” I always appreciate your sense of wit and intelligence. As I said “Mission is Accomplished” and there is no further ax to grind…because our objective was to make change and the district clearly understands the appropriate qualities that a School Principal should have. Eleanor Sherman