Monday, June 4, 2018

Incompetent Principal Ben Sherman: Forest Hills HS Teachers Issue Declaration of Independence

Teachers from Forest Hills HS have touched base with James Eterno and Mike Schirtzer, who forwarded this to Ed Notes.

Email sent to various UFT Ex Bd members:

I am a union member at Forest Hills High School in Queens. We are presently locked in a pitched battle with our new Principal, Ben Sherman. He is clearly intent on destroying both a Blue Ribbon school and a very active union. We all looked upon his appointment with dread after reading about his horrible relationship with the union at his previous school, East West HS. He actually drove the chapter leader out. Rumor has it that he has a scandalous background with many allegations from teachers and students that have been covered up.

In our school, our chapter chair is now under assault and everyone who has complained has been subjected to punitive observations. The man is deranged and if the union is worth anything, they need to rise to the challenge. Come interview us and talk to us. You will find many people who are receptive, if you will protect your sources. The school SBO, was just rejected last week 116-100 and the Principal has already threatened a punitive schedule for next year. SBOs are almost never rejected. Most of the No votes were indictments on his leadership and many decided to accept personal hardship to make a statement. People are risking their careers to save this school and stand up for each other and you need to do something. Please contact me for any needed information.


A very angry union member
Yet another out of control principal, Ben Sherman. They are cloning them - this story is so similar to the Art and Design and Port Richmond HS stories and other schools reporting but haven't yet been able to organize resistance. The UFT/Unity response has been pathetic. Hopefully some of the Forest Hills HS people will go to the UFT Ex Bd to raise the issue tonight.

While I don't know for sure, look for the hand of Queens HS Supt. Juan Mendez. Chaz wrote about him in 2016:

Chaz's School Daze: Why Is Juan Mendez Still A Superintendent?
Jun 11, 2016 - One of these Superintendents was Juan Mendez who took over for one of ... to select and protect "bad principals" in the Queens High Schools.
From the teachers of Forest Hills HS:
Declaration of Independence to highlight our grievances.

The brief history of the present PRINCIPAL OF FOREST HILLS HIGH SCHOOL is a history of repeated injuries, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over the School. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has taken a school with multiple A ratings and attempted to humiliate in the following, numerous ways its hard-working staff.

He has deprived Deans, math teachers and E.L.L. teachers of their much-needed workspace, attempting to cram them into already over-utilized rooms in a most crass and uncaring manner, proclaiming, “it is not a democratic process.”

He has threatened to “flip” teachers’ schedules without any understanding about the necessity of having the staff matched to best meet the needs of the students.

He has mishandled a lockdown on March 15, 2018, dubbed a “limited passing,” which had students crying in their classrooms, teachers trying to comfort them, and parents terribly worried, all while he was holed up in his conference room.

He has let the hallways of the building go to ruin, turning his back on disturbances, while attempting to micromanage teachers in their classrooms.

He has made it known he will put teachers in hallways, disciplining students with little-to-no power and/or backup.

He has left student bathrooms unlocked and unsupervised, creating unsafe conditions in which lewd acts, vaping and intimidation can occur.

He has reduced Circular 6 choices to only seven, with the seeming intent to force more teachers to take on a sixth-class, gratis (“small group instruction”) and peddle substandard pathways to graduation (“eight to one credit recovery”).

He has needlessly, through the reduction of C6 choices, deprived students of the opportunity to expand their social and intellectual horizons by participating in a wider array of clubs during school hours.

He has, similarly, through the reduction of C6 choices, deprived students of the ability to receive beneficial tutoring during their free periods.

He has targeted teachers who have raised valid objections to current policies with gratuitous observations immediately following their comments.

He has attempted to intimidate teachers in a vindictive manner based on non-evaluative Student Perception Surveys given to a single class.

He has encouraged teachers who raise concerns to retire from the profession.

He has attempted to win his way with threat of punitive measures, including a non-SBO day ending at 4:51 p.m.

He has put letters in file for trivial matters, including the entering of his office without an appointment.

He has attempted to force teachers to adopt teaching styles more fit for elementary school than for college readiness, namely “Word Walls” and “Turn and Talk.”

He has forced his propaganda, “Happenings in the Hills,” upon teachers, informing them of his “expectations,” some of which are noncontractual in nature, while depriving teachers of any voice in their school.

He has encouraged teachers to dispense with paper records in the name of using programs with data that can suddenly disappear or even be manipulated.

He has forced teachers to rely on Skedula, a system known to have many glitches, as the last legal word for attendance for New York State.

He has made it known that teachers will be forced to adopt a grading policy through which students can come as late as they want to class and turn in late work with little to no penalty.

He has targeted the school’s Chapter Leader and attempted to impair the functioning of the Union.

He has applied questionable measures in the collection of lunch forms on a relentless pursuit of Title-One Funding.

He has and continues to place false and misleading data numbers above the well-being of the school and the college readiness of students.

He has forced teachers to stay beyond their workday (and, next year, arrive earlier) to move their time card on the premise that he is concerned with their health.

He has created conditions of stress in the building which are detrimental to the functioning of a healthy school community.

He had forbidden teachers to leave the building on Conference days for professional development opportunities, claiming that only his meetings (practically the same offerings as last time) are “relevant.”

He has made it impossible for the Consultative Council to meet between the November and March meetings and now encourages it, with the intent to readily dismiss the viewpoints of its constituents.

He has blocked traditionally held UFT meetings following Faculty meetings on the premise that “I have one contract, you have another.”

He has made the workplace no longer a welcoming environment.

He has charged the staff with Anti-Semitism based on a picture used by a Jewish blogger in an article which named him as one of the most untrustworthy City Principals, as rated by the teachers at the school he founded, East-West.

He has threatened the peace and concord of the home of two-hundred teachers and their young charges.

Given this long list of abuses, We, the teachers of Forest Hills High School, mutually pledge to each other our fortunes and our Sacred Honor. We pledge to stand together in defense of the interests of our students, the traditions of Forest Hills High School and the careers and dignity of our colleagues.

Afterburn: Links to articles

Forest Hills teachers angered over secrecy

Process to find the next principal is ‘disgusting,’ two educators say --- Feb. 9, 2017 -



  1. And the UFT is sitting on its ass collecting dues.

    1. The UFT is useless. They kbow perfectly well about abusive practices, and harassment.

  2. Ben Sherman looks like an amiable fellow.

    If he exhibits anti-Union animus and violates the Taylor Law, then people should file Improper Practice Charges with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

    Don’t wait for the UFT to consider doing it. File on your own!

  3. The guy is a sick, insane, maniac and is not respected even among the ranks of other principals. He is an operative for the corrupt and immoral Superintendent Juan Mendez and was "planted" in FHHS because of his personal career aspirations: He felt he needed to be the principal of a large high school to move up the ladder.

  4. The teachers in the Bronx who had been working for 2 years at the recently closed down New Explorers High School were treated to much of the same craziness. Upon being notified of superintendent's plans, in December, Lisa Grevenberg, the failing principal began a campaign of destroying teacher careers with punitive assessment ratings. The UFT was useless, though the UFT rep was wonderful and untiring in her efforts to support her fellow teachers. I'm looking for a way out of this miserable excuse for a school system. No wonder they can't keep teachers!

  5. What a pathetic excuse for an educator. He only cares about furthering his own career. The only reason he's even in his current position is because of his shady dealings with the chancellor. He's a villain straight out of a comcic book or video game. His true goal is to become chancellor, so don't listen to any of the crap he spouts. He's someone who needs a change of heart.


  6. Amazing. You need to engage FHHS's very, very famous alumni. Many are from the entertainment industry, judges and lawyers and academia especially the top ivy league schools to join your fight. I'm sure an alumni letter writing campaign, a celebrity alumni on site protest rally with national media attention will bring your grievances to the forefront. Don't expect much from your union. Many of the alums were shaped by FHHS and hold "The Hills" near and dear to their heart. Its going to take some work but its worth it.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.