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Saturday, March 10, 2012

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Welton L. "Tony" Sawyer is In Trouble Again

Oh my goodness. I am so totally shocked over the ouster of Welton L "Tony" Sawyer from the position of Superintendent in Mount Vernon over a sexual relationship with a teacher and then giving her a position she was not qualified to have....


When Welton "Tony" L. Sawyer was Superintendent of District 3 in Manhattan, a group of parents - including me - went to him in protest of the removal of one of the most popular teachers ever at La Guardia HS For The Performing Arts (one of my daughters was there, graduated in 2005). His name is "John Doe", brother of Dan, the principal of PS 6 who was appointed after Carmen Farina was removed and upgraded to Superintendent of District 15 in Brooklyn (where she covered up her placement of Brooklyn Tech's Principal Lee MacCaskill's daughter in an elementary school although both Lee and his wife lived in New Jersey - see the story of Steve Ostrin) . Bad administrators simply are transferred, continuously, until they retire. To what do we owe this disdain for law and rules, as well as for public money misspent? I think it is the arrogance of immunity, the "you cant do anything to me so I dont care what you think" attitude that in New York City public schools is the way things are run.

Gotta change this.


Betsy Combier

Mount Vernon schools chief apparently out; board starts search for replacement

12:05 AM, Jan. 6, 2012 

MOUNT VERNON — It appears suspended schools Superintendent Welton Sawyer is gone for good.
A Board of Education resolution, to be released publicly today, extends Acting Superintendent Waveline Bennett-Conroy’s term through July 31 — a month after Sawyer’s five-year contract is set to expire.
Bennett-Conroy was originally asked to serve in the temporary role through Dec. 31, after the board suspended Sawyer on undisclosed personnel charges during in early November.
In another closed-door meeting Dec. 21, the board adopted the resolution to keep Bennett-Conroy in her acting leadership role for the first seven months of 2012. She was previously district pupil personnel director.
The district, meanwhile, is beginning its search for a permanent replacement.
Board member Elias Gootzeit, who opposed Sawyer’s ouster, said Thursday he is inviting parents, educators, elected officials and other community leader to join a new search committee, which he will chair.
“Once the decision with the prior superintendent was made, I got involved in choosing the next one,” Gootzeit said. “My feeling is the community has to go on.”
Gootzeit said the committee will hold its first meeting Jan. 24 to discuss desired qualities in a new schools chief and whether the search should be national or internal.
Board member Lynn McBride said Thursday that Sawyer is still on paid leave.
However, several other board members reached by phone remained tight-lipped on the matter, saying they could be sued for disclosing any information — including the charges against Sawyer, the dates of a hearing, and even basic details of his employment status.
The board’s attorney, Gus Mountanos of Ingerman Smith, declined to comment — “at least at this time” — on Thursday.
Sawyer’s contract says if the board files personnel charges against him, he is entitled to a fair hearing before an independent officer upon at least 30 days notice. The hearing can be in public or private, and if the sides cannot agree on the choice of a hearing officer within 15 days, the case can go into arbitration. It also requires that he continue to receive full pay and benefits during his suspension.
Sawyer is due to be paid a salary of $269,000 this school year, the fifth and final year of his contract.
The former superintendent could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
See Richard Cox's articles:

SEX SCANDAL IN MOUNT VERNON: Former Superintendent Terminated over Circumventing School Board to Improperly Promote Unqualified Teacher, His Paramour, to Six-Figure Administrative Position

.Cox highlights the following: ". “Tony” Sawyer lost his job this week and was formerly separated from the district after school board trustees learned that he was involved in a sexual relationship with a teacher who he had promoted to an administrative position without informing the school board and for which the teacher was not qualified, sources tell Talk of the Sound.....
The law in question is Education Law §3009 which makes it illegal to hire individuals not appropriately certified or licensed. The law states "No part of the school moneys apportioned to a district shall be applied to the payment of the salary of an unqualified teacher". A teacher or administrator is considered qualified if they are appropriately certified in accordance with Part 80 of the Commissioner’s regulations.
New York Education Article 61 § 3009 (1): Unqualified Teachers Shall Not Be Paid From School Moneys
No part of the school moneys apportioned to a district shall be applied to the payment of the salary of an unqualified teacher, nor shall his salary, or any part thereof, be collected by a district tax except as provided in this chapter.
N.Y. EDN. LAW § 3010 NY Code Section 3010: Penalty for payment of unqualified teacher.
Any trustee or member of a board of education who applies, or directs, or consents to the application of, any district money to the payment of an unqualified teacher's salary, thereby commits a misdemeanor; and any fine imposed upon him therefor shall be for the benefit of the common schools of the district.

Tony Sawyer
A former Topeka Unified School District 501 superintendent has been suspended with pay from his job by a New York school board for the past four months.
Welton L. “Tony” Sawyer served as USD 501’s superintendent from July 2003 to July 2007. He was recruited after having served as superintendent of Manhattan High Schools in New York City, where he oversaw 41 schools with about 46,000 students and a $312 million budget. He had served in that position for four years before being hired in Topeka, where he was vetted as a top-notch candidate among 40 applicants.
After completing his five-year contract in Topeka, Sawyer returned to New York with a five-year contract to serve as superintendent of Mount Vernon schools.
Sawyer was suspended by Mount Vernon’s school board in early November in the midst of a controversy involving charter school funding that reached the pages of The New York Times. The Times reported that the Mount Vernon school district was refusing to pay Amani Public Charter School funding required by state law.
Sawyer told The Times that the district’s attorneys had advised him to withhold money from the charter school.
Within a week of the article being printed, school board members had suspended Sawyer with pay on as yet undisclosed personnel matters. He was replaced by former district pupil personnel director Waveline Bennett-Conroy. Sawyer’s contract is set to expire this July.
A message left at school district attorney Gus Mountanos’ law office in Hauppauge, N.Y., on Tuesday morning wasn’t returned. No phone number was available for Sawyer.
While working in Topeka, Sawyer completed doctoral work at Kansas State University, earning his doctorate in 2006. The completion of doctoral work was stipulated in his contract by the school board. Sawyer’s compensation package in 2006, including a car allowance, health insurance and life insurance, was $180,614.
The Lower Hudson Valley News reported in January that Sawyer’s salary for the fifth year of his Mount Vernon contract was $269,000.
When Sawyer’s five years as USD 501 superintendent were up, he indicated he wanted to return to an urban setting in order to help more children.
Samantha Foster can be reached at (785) 295-1186 or Samantha on Twitter @samfoster_ks .

USD 501 names New Yorker as superintendent


Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003
The superintendent of high schools in Manhattan, N.Y., soon will take the reigns of Topeka Unified School District 501's top position.
W.L. "Tony" Sawyer has accepted the superintendent position at Topeka Public Schools. Current Superintendent Dr. Robert McFrazier announced last year that he will retire at the end of June.
Board of education members approved Sawyer as McFrazier's replacement this morning at a special board meeting. The decision follows a national search conducted over several months. Sawyer was one of about 40 who applied for the job and one of five interviewed by the board.
Sawyer said during an interview this morning that he decided to take the job, in part, because of its historical significance, referring to the Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education ruling. He also said he was impressed with current board members.
W.L. "Tony" Sawyer, who will become superintendent of USD 501 this summer
:: A board committed to progress
:: I can do more in Topeka
:: Opportunities under Mayor Bloomberg
:: Completing a doctorate degree
:: Accomplishments on the job
:: Budget shortfall is a big problem
:: A vision for the district
Related stories
:: April 24, 2003 -- USD 501 mum on search
:: April 10, 2003 -- USD 501 interviews superintendent candidates
:: March 26, 2003 -- Forty people seeking superintendent position
:: Dec. 16, 2002 -- Editorial: Robert McFrazier -- On a mission
:: Dec. 11, 2002 -- Achievement gap will be his next mission
:: Nov. 17, 2002 -- USD 501 launches search
:: Oct. 22, 2002 -- Superintendent announces retirement
Related link
:: Topeka Public Schools
"I felt that you have a board here that really is committed to progress, to building on that which already exists and making it better and stronger," Sawyer said.
Sawyer will be the 24th superintendent of Topeka Public Schools. His three-year contract will include an annual salary of $155,000. That amount is about $20,000 more than McFrazier's current salary of $135,760.
Sawyer also will see an increase in pay from his current $152,500 annual salary.
USD 501 board president Tim Clothier said the board believed the salary was acceptable given Sawyer's history and background.
"I believe the investment we have made in this individual warrants the salary," he said. "And to be honest, to find top-notch candidates in today's market place, we felt this was appropriate."
Clothier said the search has been a long process, but he and other board members are happy with the results. He said Sawyer was the board's first choice.
"You can hear the passion in his voice and that passion spills over into what he does," he said. Sawyer's ability to work with a diverse population and make progress in a time of budget constraints made him a prime candidate, Clothier said.
Sawyer has served as superintendent for the past four years in the New York district, where he oversaw a $312 million budget. He is a former teacher, assistant principal and deputy superintendent -- all within the New York City Department of Education system.
A native of New York, Sawyer is a 1974 graduate of Queens College. He also received his master's degree in education administration at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., in 1983.
Sawyer's Manhattan office is responsible for 41 high schools serving about 46,000 students. Schools under Sawyer's jurisdiction include the nationally recognized Stuyvesant High School, which works to prepare students for college math and science programs.
In 2002, Sawyer received a Tech-Savvy Superintendent award from eSchool News.
According to, Sawyer helped put together an in-house system to make student progress data more accessible. He also improved professional development for teachers and administrators through the use of IBM Learning Village.
Alicia Henrikson can be reached at (785) 295-1192 or

New superintendent -- Welcome to Topeka

Posted: Sunday, May 04, 2003

And people say Kansas doesn't have anything to attract outsiders.
Kansas -- and Topeka in particular -- certainly grabbed the attention and interest of lifelong New Yorker W. L. "Tony" Sawyer. The superintendent of New York City's Manhattan High School District last week accepted the job as superintendent of Topeka Unified School District 501.
He will start his new job on July 1, when Dr. Robert McFrazier retires.
Sawyer made a good first impression when he was introduced on Tuesday. He expressed both a very positive attitude and a good sense of humor.
"You can hear the passion in his voice, and that passion spills over into what he does," board president Tim Clothier said.
Although Sawyer will be working with smaller numbers, certainly his experience fits well with the Topeka district.
For one thing, the Manhattan district he comes from has a large Hispanic population, and that is a population that is growing in Topeka Public Schools. For another, he received one of 12 Tech-Savvy Superintendent awards from eSchool News last year, and technology is a growing tool both inside and outside the classroom.
For Sawyer, the move from New York to Topeka will require some adjustment. Beyond the cultural differences, which don't seem to concern him, he will go from working with 41 schools and 46,000 students to 32 schools and 14,000 students.
In New York, he oversaw a budget of $312 million. USD 501's budget this year is $167 million.
However, Clothier noted that Sawyer's ability to make progress in a time of budget constraints was one of the things that made him a prime candidate. And, given the state's fiscal condition, that will be one of the first challenges he will face in Topeka.
Although he has been involved with high schools over the last four years, Sawyer also has experience with early, elementary and middle school education and alternative schools.
So welcome to Topeka, Mr. Sawyer. We look forward to getting to know you.

Name: Welton L. "Tony" Sawyer
Age: 50
Home: Bayswater, New York
Current job: Superintendent of New York City's Manhattan High School District
Years in education: 27
Education: 1974 graduate of Queens College in New York; master's degree in education administration from Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y., in 1983.
Last book read: Understanding by Design by Jay McTighe, Grant P. Wiggins. "It's about classroom instruction. I mainly read books on education."
Last movie watched: "Bringing Down the House."

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