Sunday, June 24, 2012
Brooklyn Teacher Erica Bloom Says That Administrators Threatened Her To Make Her Change Student Grades
By BRAD HAMILTON, NYPOST, Last Updated:6:57 AM, June 24, 2012
Posted:12:11 AM, June 24, 2012
A Brooklyn geometry teacher with a remarkable record of academic success says she was pressured into giving passing grades to two failing seniors so they could graduate.
The inflated scores allowed the students to get their diplomas from Sheepshead Bay HS on Friday, despite both having flunked her class.
Erica Bloom, 36, (at left) says administrators used threats to pressure her into changing the final marks for the two, raising their scores from a failing 55 to a passing 65.
“They said if I didn’t change them, I could expect another ‘3020’ [disciplinary hearing], which would mean the removal of my license,” Bloom said. “So I lose my job, my insurance, my pension — everything, after 14 years.”
She says she signed off on the changed grades, hurled the new paperwork at an assistant principal and stormed off.
At issue was the students’ poor performance on the geometry Regents exam on Wednesday.
Bloom says new school Principal John O’Mahoney had insisted that all students take the Regents — and that their scores should count for 10 percent of their final grades.
One of the students notched a 53 on the test. The other failed to show up.
“A guidance counselor [for one student] came in and asked me to change his grade,” she said.
He was followed by the assistant principal “who came in and kept asking, ‘Why are you failing him?’ ”
Another asked about the second student.
“I was pressured by everybody,” she said.
She then went to O’Mahoney’s office but he refused to intervene. “He didn’t say a thing,” she said.
Bloom says she suffers from an eating disorder and exceeded her allowable sick days in 2009 and 2010, leading to an unfavorable attendance rating.
In 2011, she took 10 days, the approved limit.
“But they went back and found one day where I left early, so they said I took 10.33 sick days.”
Which would mean a third straight year of excessive absenteeism — and a likely termination, Bloom says.
“I was hysterical,” she said.
Faced with that threat, she says, she signed off on the grade changes.
The Department of Education said O’Mahoney did nothing wrong.
“The principal acted properly,” said spokeswoman Margie Feinberg. “This was not an issue of changing grades.”