Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mulgrew BFF Farina Changes Superintendents - Pity District 12 With New Supt Rafaela Espinal (Pacheco)

Two important points came up after Mulgrew's president's report, which I would characterize as the UFT bureaucracy's enchantment with Chancellor Carmen Fariña.  "Remember all those years with that moron up the street?” said Mulgrew (referring to Joel Klein and the Bloomberg years). Now with a “friend” in Tweed (“call me Carmen”), and the new contract, he said, "teachers have a voice" and the chancellor is telling the principals, "teachers aren't the enemy, they're soldiers in your army.”  Well, the brass and the troops have a very different standpoint, especially when we’re facing a war on teachers and public education.... Marjorie Stamberg, reporting on the Oct. 22 UFT Delegate Assembly
At yesterday's Delegate Assembly, Mulgrew was just dripping with love for Carmen Farina and pointed to the shakeup of Superintendents as a major step in removing the BloomKlein influence from Tweed.

I had to laugh out loud given the name of the new supt of District 12 in the Bronx - one Rafaela Espinal (Pacheco) - the Leadership Academy witch and rubber room queen who was the principal of my old school for about 5 years. Rumors were that her husband (now ex) worked for Bloomberg. And she originally came from District 15 we heard, so there is probably a long-time connection to Farina.

Espinal was known for standing at the door of a class and observing with a scowl and then slapping a post-it note on the door, always with negatives. In her years at the school there was no report of anything she said positively to a teacher.

So it was funny to hear Mulgrew declare yesterday that Farina told the Supt that teachers were not the enemy. Espinal would have to go re-education camp.

When Espinal left PS 147 to go to New Jersey and was replaced by another Lead Acad grad, who surprisingly turned out to be great, the members of the staff looked 10 years younger as they lost years of angst. This was not just the teachers. One secretary told me she was ready to retire but was rejuvenated by the new principal and remained for years.

Espinal had run a reign of terror at the school. One of my friends, a black teacher, who lost the election for chapter leader by 1 vote was targeted the next year. When a special ed child tried to run out of her room for the 3rd time that period my friend caught her and sat her in her seat, in the process a button came off her shirt and her fingernail may have grazed the girls neck - though photos taken by Espinal shortly after showed no mark.

How amazing that the principal immediately grabbed a camera to document supposed abuse - I remember all of us at the 3020 hearing looking at the photo for any sign of a scratch or even redness on the child's neck and shaking our heads.

WARNING ALERT: The teacher did not use a NYSUT lawyer but her own who was an utter incompetent. Rumors are spread about how awful NYSUT lawyers are but teachers should at the very least check out the one they are assigned before leaping to the cost of their own. NYSUT lawyers do not work for the UFT.

Espinal incited the parent to call the police and file charges and my friend was removed in handcuffs by 5 police officers, spent years in the rubber room and while not fired received a substantial fine  - for sitting a child in her seat -- (a runner who could have gotten hurt or worse if she ran out of the school). All incited by the vicious Rafaela Espinal. The teacher was black and another black teacher at the school claimed Espinal was a racist. But the climate of fear created by Espinal shut everyone up -- except my friend who was the only one in the school to challenge Espinal.

I spent some time attending the 3020 hearing and heard the mother testify for hours. That whole scene could be an off-Broadway play. But from her testimony it was clear the role Espinal played.

I even called up the lead detective who made the arrest and soon realized it was bogus - "bullshit" - was the word he used. I tried to get the UFT to do something - like get him in record, etc. but their position was that the teacher is no her own. I did take her to a UFT Exec Bd meeting to speak - again, useless.

Espinal put another teacher in the rubber room for 15 months over a comment she made to one of Espinal's lackeys in a private conversation with no children present that "some children will never get it." Shortly after a kid charged that the teacher told the class that black kids can never learn. The teacher was exonerated and sent back to the school, luckily after Espinal had left.  It should be pointed out that this occurred in January of the school year and the removal of an experienced top level teacher in a crucial 4th grade class led to chaos in the class for the rest of the school year and a drop in scores - which may have been a reason she left.

Espinal returned as principal of PS 125 in Harlem and we immediately began to hear of rubber room postings within her first month. She was ultimately removed as principal (for unknown reasons) but kicked up to a position of principal mentor - specializing in the use of water boarding. Then I heard that under Farina she was put in charge of some teacher evaluation unit - yes, Espinal, who evaluated teachers based on loyalty and trumped up charges.

Ed Notes on Espinal:
Mar 22, 2009
 Rafaela Espinal left the system to a great sigh of relief. She was replaced by another Leadership Acad Principal but this one gets high marks. Another teacher with an impeccable rep railroaded to the RR was ...
Apr 10, 2007
It is no small matter that the principal, Rafaela Espinal, is a Leadership Acad Grad and has had a great number of veteran teachers leave the school in the short time she has been there, with others looking to join them.
Apr 16, 2007
See Rafaela Espinal, principal of PS 147, say a few words of wisdom when she is not inciting parents to call the police on teachers. One of the things not included in the interview with Kathy Blythe in The Chief was the fact that ...
To me Rafaela Espinal is a criminal. So here is someone who could not last as a principal in at least 3 schools has been appointed as the new District 12 Superintendent.

Here is the list of Supes as published by Tweed:

There are 32 community superintendents and 10 high school superintendents, and we applied these changes to all 42. There are 15 new superintendents, of them eight were hired this school year:
District 2 - Bonnie Laboy
District 8 – Karen Ames
District 11 – Maria Lopez
District 12 – Rafaela Espinal
District 17 – Clarence Ellis
District 22 – Julia Bove
District 26 – Danielle Giunta
District 28 – Mabel Muniz-Saduy
Additionally, seven of the new superintendents were hired in the spring to fill vacancies. These new superintendents all still reapplied and underwent the new, thorough process over the summer. These are: 
District 6 – Manuel Ramirez
District 9 – Leticia Rodriquez Rosario
District 27 – Mary Barton
District 31 – Anthony Lodico
High School– Michael Prayor
High School – Fred Walsh
Transfer High School – LaShawn Robinson

These individuals were selected after a rigorous interview process and comprehensive background checks, and have all demonstrated extensive experience and a clear commitment to serving our students. There are two incumbent superintendents who did not meet the new experience qualifications (at least ten years of pedagogic experience, including at least three as a successful principal) but were grandfathered in per the regulation change – Gale Reeves (D5) and Anita Skop (D15). Today, October 21 marks the new superintendents’ first day. 

Here is a quote you can use from Chancellor Carmen Fariña: “To be a successful superintendent, you need extensive experience as an instructional leader and a proven record of success. I am thrilled to welcome this group of highly qualified leaders—they have the necessary experience, knowledge and understanding of what it takes to support principals, teachers and ultimately students. These decisions were about common sense. I want leaders at the helm who understand what it takes to ensure a supportive school community, and this is an exciting step forward to make sure our school system creates environments where all students and school staff will thrive. The new and existing superintendents will receive ongoing support, professional development, collaborate with each other and serve our greatest goal of directly improving classroom learning for students across the City.”
Right- I can see Espinal slapping giant post-it notes full of negative comments on schools.


  1. Comment I posted on chalkbeat on 10/22 regarding the hiring of supts:

    "I really don't know if the other future supts are preceded with negative publicity. But I would definitely question Principal Maria Lopez for the following action she took against a probationary teacher.

    If she falsely accuses this teacher for the exam boycott, where the students clearly told the newspaper that the teacher did not push the students to boycott the test, imagine how Maria Lopez will behave as a supt.

    Farina already made a bad choice by hiring Maria Lopez to be a supt."

  2. PBS once did a report on a few Leadership principals, and one used to slap notes on the doors. So unprofessional!!! Was that Espinal by any chance?? And shame on Farina. I had hopes, but now I see they have been dashed. I still say Josh Starr would have made the better candidate because he has come a long way since you knew him. He has no qualms about speaking up against Common Core and testing. Hence, that's why Rahm was sent to NYC to twist deBlasio's arm. Which btw, is very easy to do.

  3. It is axiomatic that a union would publicly appease an employer after a contract was signed. What makes our situation so insidious is that this "cozy" relationship comes after a sellout contract. How long will it be before Mulgrew cries that Farina's no good. If the opposition starts to make waves I will bet that comes sooner than later.

  4. Here's the link to the termination of the probationary teacher by Maria Lopez.


  6. Fred Walsh is another who became Superintendent without meeting the "rigorous criteria". He holds no NYS teaching credentials, taught less than 3 years and when he was principal would target senior teachers of color to coerce them to leave retire or ruin their careers. He was sued several times charged with age and race discrimination as well as harassment leading to a hostile work environment He would single out a person(s)out for harassment because of that person’s race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, age (40 and up), disability. The second situation he allowed was when the content of the harassment itself related directly to any protected characteristics, for example use of derogatory ethnic or religious terms, age or disability. Any related comments would go unchecked under his leadership. He still has pending lawsuits. He would bully students of color as well as some of the female teachers. He mostly hired exclusively young caucasian staff preferably female and mismanaged the school he worked as principal from which he was reassigned to be a principal coach in 2012. In 2011 he claimed he knew nothing about the two week "vacation" given to 8th graders and where staff were told to mark them present which was false because he worked very very closely with Jeanette Smith AP Middle school at the time. She was promoted to a Principal position the following year. She too has been sued on similar charges as Fred Walsh.

  7. Karen Ames is another disaster. She bullied teachers and backed abusive, pathological principals. She was very chummy with one who was recently sued in federal court for sexual harassment. She's a disgrace!

  8. I worked at PS 49 for years--and it is obvious that this comment is the work of the UNSATISFACTORY disgruntled teacher who falsified her employment record during her interview to get the job at PS 49! It wasn't until the mounting complaints of parents, students and even her own colleagues about her erratic behavior and verbal outbursts directed at her students and colleagues resulted in her "resignation" from PS 49, in lieu of her being fired....and the case in court---a fabrication to milk the DOE and the NYC schools of a $100,000!!!!

  9. How does someone with an 8% students at grade level become an instructional leader?
    Help us to understand this? Rewarding of bad behavior?? White privileged?? How does someone like that help our population?

  10. Well rumor has it that Espinal is no longer superintendent as of this weekend. And teachers couldn't be happier.


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