Tuesday, January 21, 2014

PS 106 Update: Instead of Holding Bloomberg Accountable, NY Post and Eric Cantor Calls For Vouchers

If you tried to write the most bizarre stories you can imagine it is really hard to match the NY Post. Chalkbeat lists loads of NY Post PS 106 stories (see below for links), including Cantor's call for vouchers as the answer to the PS 106 neglect. Cantor says, "Decisions over educating our kids should start at the home with parents."
Well parents at PS 106 did ask for a voucher but to have a school leader who would act in their interests. Cantor wants to remove that choice from those parents.

Then the Post reports how letter after letter was ignored by the Bloomberg run Tweed over the years. Sure, Eric, vouchers. Not support for another Stalag Leadership Academy graduate, people who were encouraged to engage in the kinds of practices Marcella Sills engaged in in an assault on teacher and parent interests.

I charged the Post with withholding this story until Bloomberg was out of office so he and Walcott could walk away free. In Sue Edelman's story I'm printing below there is no seeming attempt to interview the people mentioned -- Supt Lloyd-Bey, Dennis Walcott, Joel Klein, or Bloomberg himself -- or even a call for them to be investigated. Or for Richard Condon to be called to account for starting an investigation NOW.

You want to know why? Because they all were very happy Sills was doing to teachers and parents exactly as she was trained to do in the Leadership Academy-- only she didn't do it with the skill others did.

The Lead Acad principal of my old school PS 147 did exactly the same type of stuff Sills did and she is now a high official at Tweed.

Here is the full Post story on the complaints of teachers - and Ed Notes in 2008 also had complaints of parents too.

Note the headline: City Ignored -- not Bloomberg, Klein, Walcott --

City ignored pleas to ax ‘lunatic’ principal

They knew.
Teachers begged city officials to investigate “School of No” Principal Marcella Sills soon after she started in 2005 — citing her constant tardiness, harassment of staff and extravagant spending on parties while the school lacked books, pencils and paper.
“Get rid of her before it’s too late,” a 2007 letter urged District 27 Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey, who oversees Queens principals.
Letters describe Sills as a tyrant and “rude lunatic administrator” who spurred an exodus of excellent teachers and failed to provide basic student supplies and services while handsomely furnishing her own office and squandering funds on catering and decorations.
“You need to examine Ms. Sills’ inability to lead,” says a 2006 letter from a “concerned teacher” to top Department of Education officials, including Carmen Fariña — now the city’s newly installed chancellor — and then-Chancellor Joel Klein. “Teacher morale is at an all-time low.”
A 2006 letter to Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon — with copies to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Klein and other officials — said Sills “comes in late on a daily basis” and does not record her absences, but calls staffers at home if they call in sick.

The Post revealed last week that Sills for years has arrived hours late, and often failed to show, school sources said. Over the previous week, Sills missed all but one day.
The Far Rockaway school had no math or English textbooks for the rigorous new Common Core curriculum, no gym or art classes — kids watched movies instead — and no nurse’s office. Kindergartners sit in trailers that reeked of animal urine.
Fariña sent a deputy to inspect the school last week but has not publicly acknowledged any specific problems, citing only “significant room for organizational improvement.”
Last week, kids suddenly had gym and art. Dozens of boxes of books were delivered, including the grade-by-grade series, aimed at parents, starting with “What your Kindergartner Needs to Know.”
Condon has launched a probe.
Former teachers gave The Post 10 letters sent since 2005 to Condon, Klein, Lloyd-Bey, Fariña and former Queens Superintendent Kathleen Cashin — now a member of the state Board of Regents. Most of the letters are anonymous, because the teachers feared retaliation by Sills. Some kept a “harassment log.”
The teachers also showed more than two dozen letters and e-mails to reps at the United Federation of Teachers, including then-President Randi Weingarten, now a national union president, but said even she could not help.
Among the complaints, a 2006 letter to Condon, copied to Bloomberg and DOE officials, says Sills threw an elaborate buffet lunch for staff as a “thank you” but asked teachers to sign forms stating — falsely — that they attended a “professional development” workshop. A spokesman for Condon said last week he had no findings to report.
The letter also describes a “fifth-grade extravaganza,” including a dance at El Caribe banquet space, a Broadway show and dinner at a trendy Manhattan restaurant — at an estimated cost of $24,000. Parents had to cough up $90 each.
It was also alleged Sills used a grant from the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio to pay herself overtime, even as school aides went without OT because the school budget had run out of money.
A 2006 letter to Klein called Sills “vicious,” saying she “humiliated” children who were emotionally disturbed and punished school aides who complained about “unsafe, deplorable conditions” in the cafeteria.
Sills, 48, was a graduate of the DOE’s “Leadership Academy,” which trains principals, and had little teaching experience. Insiders said she lacked literacy skills, noting her invitation to a Nov. 23, 2005, holiday buffet “in honor of my gradutitude” to employees, including “security personel” and “custodially staff members.”
Sills ruled by threats and intimidation, ex-staffers complained. She “yells at a volume that resounds throughout the building, slams doors and uses foul language,” a 2006 letter to Condon claims.
That letter also accuses Sills of racism: “She has hired only black teachers and has targeted white teachers and a secretary.” Many left or were forced out.
One former teacher charged that Sills fabricated several observations, rated her “unsatisfactory” and then forged her signature on the documents.
Another red flag was raised in 2009, when the family of a girl student filed a $2 million negligence suit charging staff failed to stop beatings and a sex assault and that Sills did not report the incidents. The family’s lawyer, Adam Thompson, told The Post the city has yet to produce a single witness for deposition. The city Law Department declined to comment.
The DOE would not answer questions on PS 106 or Sills.
Chalkbeat list of articles.

"School of No"

Teachers at P.S. 106 sent at least 10 letters to city officials since 2005 complaining about Principal Marcella Sills.

Sills spent thousands of dollars sprucing up her office and ordering food for staff functions.

A fifth-grader describes the school's wanting conditions from a student's perspective.

Republican Congressman Eric Cantor says P.S. 106 is evidence that voucher programs are necessary.

After de Blasio stepped in, P.S. 106 pre-K students now have a real classroom with real furniture.


  1. "Teacher morale is at an all-time low."


    The old cliche that you only get one chance to make a first impression is apt here, with the new Chancellor seeming to maintain her predecessors' policy that Principals will always be protected, no matter the abuse.

    Teachers have said that the new Mayor and Chancellor need time to right all the terrible wrongs of the previous administration, and that is true, but removing Sills while she's being investigated is something Ms. Farina could and should have done immediately. It would have sent a refreshing message to NYC teachers that maybe things really are going to change of rather better.

    Instead, we see more of the same administrative abuses being tolerated, abuses that would have immediately led to teachers being removed from the building.

  2. I have NEVER followed anything regarding the DoE so closely. Appears that there are mountains of evidence in this case pointing to fraud. This is sad to see , after 12 years of Bloomberg, appears that nothing has changed. This should be over by the end of week. If Ms. Sills is still at P106 on Friday, THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT THE "NEW ADMINISTRATION".

  3. Apologies for the poor proofreading: it should have read, "...maybe things really are going to change for the better."

  4. It's a rough place to work.
    Hopefully something will change instead of band aids and attempts at covering up years of mismanagement as well as student and teacher abuse.
    We work our asses of with nothing and now it looks like something is being done.
    This can't fade away.

  5. Hard to believe that this columnist thinks parents are to blame for the on-going problems at PS 106. Maybe, though, this columnist can tell us parents how to protest educational problems effectively.


  6. Looks like the previous post was from a teacher at the school. Fade away? It appears that it may be gone very soon. It is time that every teacher and parent in that school take a stand, unite and let your voices be heard. Teachers, stand up and do what is right. What can happen to you? Sure, you will be on her s**t list-aren't you there anyway? If not, won't you be there soon? You can"t expect the Post or Norm Scott and other bloggers to fight your battles while you all stand around hoping Sills will be gone soon. Act now or live with this monster of a person. Let your voices be heard.For those people who directly involved at P106-THINK ABOUT IT!!!!


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