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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Academy For Innovative Technology Violates Special Education Laws, Writes an Anonymous Former Teacher

Tweed, Headquarters of the NYC BOE
Academy of Innovative Technology

999 Jamaica Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11208
Phone: (718) 827-2469 Fax: (718) 827-4013
Website Map Principal: Cynthia Fowlkes
Parent Coordinator: No Parent Coordinator.

Grade levels: 9 to 12
Class size:
Enrollment: 205
Attendance: 85%
9th-graders reading on level: 15.4%
District 19

Admissions: Citywide
Neighborhood: Cypress Hills
Link to DOE stats
Citywide after-school directory
What the numbers mean

The Academy of Innovative Technology, opening in the Franklin K. Lane building in the fall of 2008 with a 9th grade, will offer students a chance to get a career and technical education in a small school setting. Franklin K. Lane is being phased out due to poor performance; it will graduate its last students in 2011.

Founded by Cynthhia Fowlkes, formerly director of the Department of Education's career and technical education office, the school will receive support from the National Academy Foundation, which operates vocational training programs in more than a dozen city schools. Students will be able to pursue industry certification in Microsoft Office, Adobe, and IC3 computer applications and they will also be able to take college courses for free at Baruch and Monroe colleges. To get to that goal, freshmen will take 90-minute periods of English, math, and information technology on alternating days.

"[Career and Technical Education] engages students and enables them to see who they are and what they might want to do," said Fowlkes, who also worked at Paul Robeson High School. She noted that while all students will take college preparatory courses, students who choose not to go to college will be able to secure a skilled job right after graduating.

Special education: Beginning in its first year, the school will accept students who require Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS), collaborative team teaching, and a self-contained setting.

Admission: Citywide. Preference is given to students who attend a high school fair or information session. (Philissa Cramer, February 2008)
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Jan 8, 2010

During interviewing for a teaching position in summer 2009, job candidates were told teachers, were responsible for writing their own curriculum. Boutique curriculum is a good idea but for teachers with less than 5 years experience with out the support of a curriculum associate or master teacher seemed like a poor educational planning. Maybe the principal can comment on this?

Cynthia Fowlkes

Treasurer [of Bailey's Cafe] Cynthia Fowlkes began her tenure as an educator in 1992, working at Paul Robeson High School for ten years within several capacities as a: business teacher, Career Coordinator, Academy of Finance Coordinator, Business Coordinator. During the 2002-2003 school year she served as Career and Technical Education Instructional Specialist of the Brooklyn High Schools Superintendents Office. Ms. Fowlkes returned to Robeson where she served as the Assistant Principal of the Business and Technology Departments until January 2006 when she became the Director of Career Technical Education at the Department of Education New York City. in spring 2008, Cynthia left Tweed to become principal of a new public school, Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn, New York. Her work experience also includes fifteen years at Chase Manhattan Bank starting as a teller and moving up to a Senior Sales Representative. Her experience at Chase enabled her to develop a keen understanding of regional banking procedures and policies along with a comprehensive acuteness for finances and the business world in general. Ms. Fowlkes, was born in Lakeland, Florida and moved with her parents to New York City, in 1961. She holds degrees from Brooklyn College (BA), New York University (MA) and Bank Street College (MA,Ed.).

From Betsy Combier: below is an email received about this school from an anonymous former teacher:

I worked at a school in Brooklyn which violated several educational laws, specifically those for special education students. The school was the Academy of Innovative Technology, and it opened as one of the new schools in Franklin K. Lane, which is set to close. I had taught at FKL for four years before working at AoIT. The principal is Cynthia Fowlkes, former director of Career and Technical Education at the Department Education main administrative building.

I contacted the Integrated Service Center throughout the 2008-2009 school year and they condoned the actions I was asked to take. My principal was new and my heart goes out to her. She was very much acting in the way she was asked to by the many mentors that helped her. Though we offered self-contained classes in the high school directory, we actually didn't staff special education classes. I made a lot of changes to legal documents
(IEPs) at the request of my Principal and with the Integrative Service Center, sometimes with consent of parents, and often, without. We also ran special education team-taught classes with ESL teachers. We ignored a request from a representative of Linda Wernikoff's Office of Special Education Initiatives when she told us to hire a second teacher. An ESL teacher was hired instead. Resource room classes were actually just advisories, were fewer than legally mandated minutes, and after a while, serviced all of the difficult students, overreaching their mandated cap of eight to up to 12 special education and general education students.

We also violated other rules - we had a uniform rule and denied students entrance to the school when they were not wearing their uniform, we offered credits for hours which were not legally seated hours, and we had a lockout rule after 9:15, which meant late students could go home or stay outside until after noon when the dean would let them in. I believe Lane did the same things.

I tried to call the UFT whistle blowers line, but as I was no longer in the school, there was nothing I could do. I tried to forward the whistle blower information to a parent who seemed pretty aggravated by the school last year, but she's now employed or a parent coordinator, so she feels a lot better about her daughter's situation. It was pretty cowardly of me to not call these in when I was there, but I was leaving the school and moving. I was scared that bad news would travel with me and it would jeopardize my career.

When I left, the school directory still said it ran self-contained classes (which it didn't) and I was asked to make the same changes for the incoming class. As far as I know, the ESL teachers are still teaching special education students. The same document changes may be happening right now.

As of my last few weeks there in June, I was still be asked to sign fraudulent special education paperwork by the Brooklyn director of the Integrated Service Center.