Mary Ann Tozzi loses her job as New Paltz crossing guard

Mary Ann Tozzi helps New Paltz Middle School students cross the street. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Mary Ann Tozzi helps New Paltz Middle School students cross the street. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

In 2011, many New Paltz residents were calling for a crossing guard near the New Paltz Middle School, and local government officials were all claiming that their hands were tied and that they were unable to provide one. Into that maelstrom stepped Mary Ann Tozzi, who simply showed up one day after school and began stopping traffic to let the kids cross North Manheim Boulevard. The rogue crossing guard was soon stopped by police, but not long after that she was offered the job for real, after the school district and town worked out a deal wherein crossing guards would be hired as independent contractors by the town police, who would perform background checks, provide training and oversight, with the actual pay for the two-hour-a-day job being reimbursed by the New Paltz Central School District.

Tozzi started the job in controversy, and ended it the same way. For months, if not years, Tozzi has complained loudly about the number of people who make an illegal left turn onto North Manheim from the school parking lot. She was unable to take down license plate numbers, but started taking pictures of repeat offenders. This week, after New Paltz police pulled over someone for that act, Tozzi alleged on social media that perpetrator was a middle school teacher who had been breaking that same law about twice a week for quite some time. She posted the teacher’s name on Facebook, and the same day police chief Joseph Snyder told her that her services were no longer required.


Calls to middle school principal Dr. Richard Wiesenthal were referred to superintendent Maria Rice, and calls to her office were referred back to Snyder, with district staffers explaining that the school district does not make decisions about the employment of crossing guards. Nevertheless, a posting for a crossing guard position was put on the district’s website, and Snyder confirmed that it was the school district’s decision.

“Mary Ann has been a great asset,” Snyder said. “We appreciate her service, she really got the ball rolling” for establishing a crossing guard, he said.

While Snyder would not comment on the specifics, Tozzi said that when she was terminated, Snyder had a faxed copy of her social media posting on his desk, and claims she was told that Dr. Wiesenthal requested she be removed from the position.

There are 12 comments

  1. MaryAnn Tozzi

    Of all the things I hope to come of this — PLEASE drive safely and be alert of all pedestrians – But especially during opening and dismal hours on school days. Please let THAT be the priority here. SAFETY for the middle school students. Slow down and obey the posted signs.

  2. Justin

    Police chief Joseph Snyder, middle school principal Dr. Richard Wiesenthal an superintendent Maria Rice, according to this article, have apparently made a collective decision . For a concerned citizen, like Marryann Tozzi, to forcibly create the position do to lack of concern for the children’s safety and voicing the opinion of worried parents, it’s not surprising they would release and dismiss her so easily. They do not like, nor want more negative media attention, so they sweep it under the rug…

  3. Miryam Antúnez De Mayolo

    So, bullying starts at the top in this school! The school administrators ought to be ashamed of themselves, I reallly hope Ms. Rice takes action and Ms. Tozzi gets her job back.

  4. Aaron Rudder

    Ms. Tozzi was passionately dedicated to the students, and it’s a disservice to them and the community that she’s been released. You won’t find a more pleasant and kind hearted women . I may not know the whole story, but it’s a true shame she could be let go for trying to do the right thing. To me, this illustrate’s that bureaucratic decisions can be grossly out of touch with reality.

  5. Paul

    That crosswalk is a huge problem. There’s a light 30 feet away. Just have the students walk there. Its been worse since they forced the traffic coming northbound on 32 into a single lane. It takes a LONG time to even get to that intersection already and that change (made several months ago) made it far worse.

  6. MaryAnn Tozzi

    Paul, The changed made “made it worse?” For who? Because it made it immensely better from a pedestrian stand point. And sorry to have to inconvenience the drivers in their nice warm dry cars to ask the people walking to go 1200 feet around instead of allowing them to walk 25 feet across – that’s not a realistic expectation. There is also a public bus stop right there at the entrance of the plaza — should those people back track and go all the way back around just to walk across the street to where they were just dropped off?? Again, not a very realistic expectation.

  7. Alex guzman

    I can honestly say Marianne you make everyone’s day. You make all the kids crossing happy and you’re always so chippy. Your funny hats and smiles just put everyone in such a good mood as they carry on with there day. I hope you get your job back and if not they don’t deserve someone so happy and beautiful anyway! All the students love you keep that in mind!!!

  8. Serious

    I’m waiting to see the name of the teacher and the penalty that teacher paid for breaking the law on a weekly basis. If no action is taken by the Police Department and the School Board I am going to stand in exactly the same spot as Ms. Tozzi, photograph this teacher, post it on all of my social media sites: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr…and I am going to print large poster sized pages and tape them all over New Paltz to FORCE this teacher to apologize publicly, and receive a ticket for every illegal turn that has been made. Now the volume described suggests that teacher will have several dozen moving violations, will lose their license, pay very hefty fines and possibly face jail time. So, this teacher can come forward and apologize or we will get you. Yes, that is a blatant threat. You will be outed.

  9. MaryAnn Tozzi

    The teacher’s name is still posted (i did NOT remove it) it is also posted on various “new paltz” pages. I’m not going to post it again as, I am not “a bully on a witch hunt” which HAS been both implied and out right said. I stand on my words – This teacher was a repeat offender! She had no respect for the law OR the children entrusted in her care – Let’s pretend she went blowing past a stopped school bus with the lights flashing. That would be different right? Nobody would be accusing the driver of a witch hunt – but because these kids walk they can clearly expect NO level of safety precautions from the school district AND can actually expect resistance in helping them get there safely! !

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