- Posted: 1:19 AM, June 16, 2013
They dole out discipline to teachers and students, but city school principals rarely get a taste of their own medicine.
In the past three years, just two of 14 principals formally accused of misconduct have been fired — and not a single boss in the city’s 1,600 schools was charged with incompetence, officials told The Post.
The disciplinary deficiency raises questions when 217 elementary and middle schools received grades of F, D or consecutive C’s on the city’s latest report cards, and 31 high schools rated D or F.
“The numbers don’t add up to the Bloomberg administration’s goal to hold everybody accountable,” a veteran teacher said.
“They haven’t been in the schools observing,” said Robert Reich, director of grievances for the Council of Supervisors and Administrators.
The superintendents, stripped of real authority, often “rubber-stamp” decisions from above, he said. “If no one’s ever told a principal that he or she isn’t doing something right, how can you justify removing them?”
Under a new evaluation plan imposed by the state this month, principals will be judged 20 percent on school test scores, 20 percent on city report cards and 60 percent on visits by a superintendent or designee.
Some principals stay in place despite serious problems.
Darlene Miller, chief of the NYC Museum School in Chelsea, was busted in December 2011 on DWI charges in Rockland County, when her speeding Hyundai smashed into the rear of a parked police car. She failed to report the arrest as required.
But the DOE will not discipline Miller until her criminal case is resolved, if at all. She has won delays in the DWI case, which remains open.
Anissa Chalmers of PS 32 in Morrisania, the target of staff and parent complaints, has been under DOE investigation for an undisclosed matter for more than a year. Last June, an 8-year-old pupil slashed a 9-year-old classmate’s neck with a razor at the school. Chalmers is also an actress and starred in a bloody B-flick, “Gang Girl,” as a killer thug, but did not tell the DOE about the content.
“Some administrators worked at schools that weren’t doing so well, but that doesn’t mean they’re not highly effective administrators,” said Deputy Chancellor David Weiner. “It just means they’re in a school that’s struggling.”
In a case of wrongdoing rewarded, Janet Saraceno, then-principal of Lehman HS in The Bronx, improperly changed student grades and gave credits to students who failed classes, a probe concluded. She quit Lehman in August 2011, but the DOE kept her on to advise principals and teachers on curriculum and other matters as an “achievement coach.”
The DOE denies it lets principals slide. “There are many ways we hold principals accountable,” said spokesman David Pena. “Not only are bonuses based on their school’s progress report cards, but tenure decisions are also based on performance. We work with struggling principals, and where the problems persist many of those principals opt to resign.”
Additional reporting by Yoav Gonen