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Friday, December 30, 2011

Principals From Hell: Reginald Landeau, MS 216, and His Reign of Terror

Principal Reginald Landeau didn’t turn off his unauthorized hot plate and burned down his office

Queens principal burns office, staff

MS 216’s Reginald Landeau — ‘the worst’ — ignores contract and rules by fear

Kudos To Peter Lamphere's Team, Reversing His U-Rating From Bronx Science, But The Teacher Evaluation Process Must Change

Teacher rating system must change
By Paul Hogan, Riverdale Press
I have been a special Education teacher for 27 years and I am an elected UFT delegate.
The case of Bronx Science English teacher Geoffrey Nutter, who was rated unsatisfactory then — presumably —  dismissed,  brings up at least two issues independent of the question of whether or not Mr. Nutter’s pedagogy was adequate.

Firstly, what possible explanation can be made for the 17-month delay in adjudicating Mr. Nutter’s appeal? Does not the delay and the sudden release of a decision within one week of the publication of the original Riverdale Press article point to an education bureaucracy that is, at best, dangerously sclerotic and/or, as is much more likely the case, a moral and ethical swamp? The complacency with which the DOE issued its decision on the heels of the Press article on the Nutter appeal (after 17 months of doing nothing with it) would be laughable were it not so sad. Apparently, there are recesses of New York City government that are so far beyond the threat of oversight and accountability that the inhabitants therein don’t even consider how their shenanigans might look to the general public. So what’s actually going on in there? Perhaps we really don’t want to know.

Secondly, what kind of a system blacklists an individual for life on the strength of what comes down to one person’s (in this case a notoriously mercurial and vindictive school principal) highly speculative, deeply subjective judgment?

A not so well-guarded secret: principals (not all, but many) U-rate teachers for all kinds of reasons separate and distinct from the teachers’ pedagogical acumen:  personality clash; bias based on race, sexuality or ethnicity; political   or policy differences; a desire to make room on staff for a friend, friend of a friend, relative of a friend, etc. and, of course, money. (A veteran teacher costs an individual school twice what a brand new hire costs. U-Rate and dismiss a veteran? Ka-CHING! Lots of new money freed-up for whatever.)

Naturally, this is unacknowledged and unacknowledgeable. Rather, fault must be found with the particular teacher’s classroom practice; his/her “pacing” is off; he/she can’t find and produce an obscure rubric, issued months ago, fast enough when asked; his/her style of questioning is faulty; he/she must begin each question with the words “To what extent...”; he/she must never restate students’ questions before answering them.
Good grief.

Another not-so-well-guarded secret: classroom teaching is an exceedingly complicated business and there is no such thing as “perfect” classroom instruction. Mistakes are invariably part of this complicated process.

Additionally, there are many legitimate approaches to the transmission of knowledge. Whatever methodology may be temporarily  (and it is ALWAYS temporarily) in vogue within a given district or system ought not to preclude the employment of other methodologies and techniques.

We are living through a dark age in American education. (Many parallels to the McCarthy era, seems to me.) The public, with encouragement from our ruling economic and political elite, has taken its eye off the ball. It seeks to blame public school teachers as a class for the deficiencies of urban public education as a whole. In fact, teachers have little to say over what and how they teach. Mr. Nutter’s experience is case-in-point. In another era, Bronx Science would be pursuing accomplished professionals who had their own ideas about teaching and learning and about life itself. The school would be begging them to stay. In this dark and dull age, by resorting to the blacklist, by enshrining mediocrity, dishonesty and conformity, our urban school policymakers seem to have lost their way.  

Post-Mussolini, some wise pundit said, “It’s not enough to have the trains run on time; you have to know where they’re going.” In the case of modern urban education, our policy makers seem to have let the train jump the track altogether.

Teacher’s grievance against Science goes unaddressed
By Nikki Dowling, Riverdale Press

Seventeen months ago, Geoffrey Nutter asked the Department of Education to reverse unsatisfactory ratings he had been given by embattled Bronx Science High School principal Valerie Reidy. He’s still waiting for an answer.

Mr. Nutter’s resume reads like the biography of a well-known writer.

The author of three poetry books, Mr. Nutter has won multiple awards for his work, including the University of Iowa’s 1993 Academy of American Poets Prize, presented by then-Poet Laureate Mark Strand. He has been published in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, and currently works as an adjunct poetry professor at New York University. He will begin teaching a class at Columbia University this spring. Before he begins, he expects to submit his fourth book to his publisher and travel to France, where he will read from one of his collections at the International School of Paris.

Yet the 43-year-old could not seem to satisfy administrators at the Bronx High School of Science, where he taught English from 2008 to 2009 and received three unsatisfactory evaluations.

He is one of at least seven Bronx Science teachers who told The Press they left the school because of what they see as Principal Valerie Reidy’s tactics of retribution, unfair and unannounced evaluations and abusive criticisms.

First, a group of teachers from the math department who in May 2008 filed a complaint with the Department of Education alleging that Assistant Principal Rosemary Jahoda harassed them. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein rejected fact finder Carol Wittenberg’s conclusion that Ms. Jahoda harassed certain teachers. Then, eight of the school’s 20 social studies teachers chose not to return this year.

Mr. Nutter’s situation is not unique. And his careful notes, records and appeal to the Department of Education to reverse his unsatisfactory ratings illuminate the complaints of many others.

Mr. Nutter received his first unsatisfactory evaluation a month after he began teaching at Science, on Oct. 3, 2008. He said he was never told he would be evaluated — a violation of the teachers’ union contract, according to United Federation of Teachers spokesman Peter Kadushin.

In a phone interview last week, Ms. Reidy did not deny the allegation.
“The UFT is concerned about that,” Ms. Reidy said of her practice of not informing teachers, but added that school staffers have a pre-observation conference where they meet with administrators to formulate goals and plan for their lesson, which should prepare them for what is to come.

“We don’t want to see a dog-and-pony show, we want to see what the kids see,” Ms. Reidy said.

Mr. Kadushin said pre- and post-observation meetings are part of evaluations, but actual observations, “have to be announced.”

Mr. Nutter got negative ratings for lax grading policies and failing to ask his students thought-provoking questions about readings.

But he said Ms. Reidy asked him to begin all questions with “To what extent,” a phrase that became a running joke at the school because it was used so often. He said he was also told not to clarify or rephrase students’ answers by repeating them, a practice that he thought showed he was listening carefully.

After each evaluation, Mr. Nutter said he met with the principal and the head of the English department and received a “storm of criticism” which left him “in a state of shock.”
Ms. Reidy agrees that the conferences got “very heated” and in Mr. Nutter’s last observation report from April 2009 wrote, “You clearly failed to understand that this was a conference to assess your teaching ability not my leadership ability. Your demeanor and comments were inappropriate and insubordinate.”

Ms. Reidy said teachers who put in the time and effort required find the conferences worthwhile. She said Mr. Nutter didn’t read or grade some of his students’ work and was ill-prepared and unfocused — allegations Mr. Nutter denies.

Retired English teacher Helen Kellert, who worked at Science from 1989 to 2009 called Mr. Nutter “brilliant, conscientious [and] dedicated.” She said intellectual teachers who were less focused on structure were often penalized.

“A U from Bronx Science became a badge of honor for one’s intellectual integrity,” she said.
But others contend that Ms. Reidy has been targeted because she’s a woman.

After The Times reported that numerous social studies teachers left the school prior to this school year, Ms. Reidy met with students to explain their departures were for numerous reasons and took questions from students.

First-year social studies teacher Jon Cruz, who has coached the school’s debate team for seven years, said when his class discussed the meeting and recent media reports, students made a connection between their unit on gender and politics and Ms. Reidy’s situation.
“I definitely think it has a lot to do with Valerie’s gender,” Mr. Cruz said, adding, “There’s a double standard that’s given to female leaders as opposed to male leaders.”

He said many of the schools’ problems have been resolved and he wanted to look forward.
“Every new decision that is made by the principal is greeted with … a deep suspicion no matter what I think because of things that happened a while ago,” he said.

Principal From Hell: Darlene Miller, Museum School, DWI

Darlene Miller, Principal of the Museum School in New York City, was arrested on December 17, 2011, for crashing her car into a police vehicle and smelling of alcohol. She refused a Breathalyzer test, thus suspending her driver's license, and did not report the incident and her arrest in a timely fashion to the DOE. Let's see if she gets away with this.
Of course Teddy Smith and I, among others (see teacher complaint below) knew that she was bad news several years ago, when she or someone who works for her went to the all-night US Post Office at 33rd and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, and mailed Teddy his "Just Cause for termination" letter although he never met her or spoke with her, and was in the Manhattan Rubber Room before she became Principal of the Museum School. Makes you wonder what information she had before she signed the "Just Cause" papers that put Teddy in his second 3020-a Hearing, which I gladly attended, if only to hear the secret tapes he made of the investigator, Michael Humphries, yelling that he wanted Teddy's tapes from the school. It obviously didnt occur to Humphries that if he was yelling at Teddy to give him tape recordings he secretly taped, that he, Humphries, would be taped secretly as well. Arbitrator Bonnie Weinstock played the tape of Humphries after he testified at Teddy's 3020-a, showing that Humphries lied under oath at the hearing. I have the transcript.
Administrative Trials Unit Director Theresa Europe
I also have the transcript of ATU Director Theresa Europe testifying about how she heard from Teddy's former lawyer, David Kearney, Esq., that Teddy was threatening to "kill" Arbitrator Jack Tillem, and Europe didnt call the police, but called her friend, Richard Condon, to "investigate".
Arbitrator Weinstock and Victor Muallem, working together, couldnt find David Kearney, so the hearing concluded without his appearance (so he could not be cross examined), but he did submit an affidavit. Weinstock was convinced by Muallem that Teddy was a potential "killer", and terminated Teddy, without getting Kearney in to explain. According to the NYC Bar Association, David Kearney still is listed as working at 317 Madison Avenue, the offices of Neal Brickman, but is delinquent in renewing his license since 2007. According to Victor Muallem, Kearney is 'somewhere' in Malaysia.


Teacher: Darlene Miller

A bad Principal, for a bad school

Teacher Complaint About: Nyc Museum School - Darlene Miller
New York, NEW YORK
Author: Undisclosed
Grade: 11

Occur date: Sep 20 2009
Post date: Oct 24 2010, 09:21:10 AM
Teacher Complaint: Darlene Miller - Nyc Museum School
Look, all of this started when I was in the 9th grade. Turns out, one skittish teacher started a rumor about how I was a threat to the school, while having no real grounds, sice I didn't really do anything.
Of course, they said that I did, but the claims were so bogus. People stated that I played videogames all night, which was the reason why I had a lateness problem, (I really had sleeping problems and came in so late that it was at the end of the day, there is no proof of anything otherwise), and stated that I was voilent, because of cheep doodlings I had in my notebooks of stick figures fighting, and spewing poorly drawn blood. This was in the 9th grade. I stopped at the 10th grade, but they still used it against me. 

The guidance counselor tried to force me into therapy. She recommended Saint Vincents. My mother refused and signed me up for Jewish Board, Youth Counseling league. She had to pay for it out of pocket. Why didn't my mom sign up for the free stuff? Because sometime after, Saint Vincent SHUT DOWN. It was all over the news, remember?

Early into my first year, I was pulled out of class for writing a paper stating something like "If I could control the law, mushrooms wouldn't be illegal..." [joke is coming,]" I could eat the, grow to the size of a house and have 1UPS. Also, Master Balls would be cheap."
This is a gamer joke. Mario eats mushrooms to grow into Super Mario, 
1UP mushrooms give the players extra lives.
Master Balls are a type of advanced capsule in the "Pokemon" videogames, a type of Pokeball, which allows the player fight and caputure weakened wild Pokemon, a Master Ball skips the fighting part, as it can capture any Pokemon under any condtion, without fail.
And extremely rare item, you only get one in the whole game.
A little later, teachers started comlpaining about my cheap drawing of agressive stick figures, but dark studen-made anti-smoking posters were put up in the hallways and left alone. (One showed Hitler thinking of stick figure jews in fear and bleeding saying, "I should have killed them with cigarettes".)

Later, The dean suspended me for typing into a computer "I hate everybody and I want to kill them". First of all, I didn't. There was no saved proof of this file. Second, even though a lot of kids said I did this, all interpeted it differently that what I really put down.
(I think I asked in this some-what-of-a-poem, something along the lines of "How would you feel if you attended your own funeral?" There was no indication of me in this poem, of any indication of hate.)
Also, this happened at the begining of the year. I got suspended in the MIDDLE of the year, out of the blue, without being told. Drawn your own conclusions.

While the majority of teachers found blame with me in one way of the other, Miller stands out because she is the PRINCIPAL, and did harm to me too.
FIRST, she accused me of putting students in danger when I did NOTHING.
SECOND, she told my mother that she could expell me, which under the Department of Ed, is illegal. She also stated that I wasn't a productive student. And told me the school's reputation was at stake.
THIRD, she denied it.
FOURTH, she said that I screamed and cursed at her, not true. Put me through a lie detector.
FIFTH, I have an education lawyer, and several other people from city authorities were involved. Miller still kept lying at everything.
All agreed that she a more of less of a bonehead.

By the this time, I was in the tenth grade, and Miller basicly had changed me from "dangerous kid" to "spoiled brat who skips school".

In reality, this is about how she did not like my work (mostly from the 9th grade), and kept it on record and tried to use it even when I was in the 10th grade, which she can't.
At every point that they could, I was offered a transfer.

Oh, and Miller, (Principal), Skirianos, (Dean), Masnick (guidance counselor, if you are reading this, kindly do not take this the wrong way; you are fools who are a waste of time and energy.
Try to pursue this, piss off.
In other words: STUPID actions look STUPID.

This is a report to a website where people report faulty teachers.
This is not a form of cyberbulling, and not here to upset people, rather, this is here to warn others. There is NOTHING you can pin down upon me, as I did no wrong or harm. Sending this file to my new school shows how much you want to use this to get me in trouble. However, I do not care who you show this to. This is the internet. PEOPLE MAY VIEW THIS BY THE TRUCKLOAD.

Yours truly,
Not telling, you should know by now who this is from.

Address: 333 W 17TH ST - New York, NEW YORKPhone: 212-675-6206
Museum School Principal Darlene Miller

NYC Museum School principal Darlene Miller arrested on DUI charges

Posted in December 29th, 2011

'DWI' Principal
Top HS chief rams police car cops

Last Updated:7:10 AM, December 29, 2011

The principal of a top-performing Manhattan high school was charged with drunken driving after plowing her car into a stopped police cruiser — narrowly missing a cop, authorities said.
Darlene Miller, principal of the NYC Museum School in Chelsea, is facing a Rockland County court hearing on Jan. 9 on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Cops said Miller — who has a reputation for strictness — was driving north on Route 9W toward the Tappan Zee Bridge two Saturdays ago when she smashed her Hyundai into the back of the cruiser — which had just pulled over another driver.
Miller, 64, refused to submit to tests of her blood-alcohol level, but smelled of alcohol and had impaired speech and coordination, according to the officer’s deposition.
She appeared to be driving toward her Dobbs Ferry home at the time of the 9:30 p.m. accident.
“Her vehicle was so heavily damaged, it came to rest on the barrier near the entrance of the freeway,” South Nyack Police Chief Robert Van Cura said. “She admitted she had something to drink before she drove the car — but not how much.”
Miller, who earned $151,000 in 2010, did not respond to a call or e-mail seeking comment.
She has no prior convictions, according to cops, but the Breathalyzer refusal results in an automatic license suspension.
Education officials said Miller did not follow protocol in reporting the arrest and they are considering appropriate action.
While Miller’s school boasted a 98 percent graduation rate last year and has received nothing but high marks from the city, online reviews by her own teachers have been less glowing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Alyce Barr, Principal From Hell, Suspends Student After Denying Student Any Lunch, And Taking Her Locker, And There Is Nothing The Parent Can Do

Brooklyn Secondary School For Collaborative Studies
I guess the conclusion I would like you to reach after reading the story below is this: if a principal accuses a student of an alleged assault on a staff member, but the video shows that this did not happen, shouldnt the Principal attempt to use the information on the video to resolve the issue rather than lie under oath at the student's Suspension Hearing? conclusion would be: of course.

The New York City Department of Education is a strange entity, however, that refuses to look at a fact in "its face" (I'm making a fact into a thing) if it means that a targeted individual gets free of the harm that the principal wants the person to be victimized by, as nothing, absolutely nothing, must get in the way of the Gotcha Squad goons (SCI, OSI, DOI, OEO) and their foregone results.

The reason I am re-posting the story I posted on my website is to show how easy it is for Principals to remove anyone from the school - anyone, meaning any member of the staff or any student. Rubber Rooms for students are the Alternative Education Sites, or Second Opportunity Schools which house unwanted people, students, or whomever the principal wants harmed and/or removed. No evidence of wrong-doing is necessary, as the Superintendent is "permitted" to suspend, discard, remove, get arrested, and alter the life plan or career of anyone the Principal doesnt want. This is, of course, the rubberization process. When a Principal writes a note for the "Online Occurance Reporting System" (OORS) and sends it to The EIC,(Chancellor's Response Group)  the principal or assistent principal has the power to write up whatever happened as if either the teacher or the student made the situation happen, and are guilty. Thus whomever the principal wants to target or 'get' is the perpetrator, and the victim is whomever will be bribed, subpoenaed, or told to be a "witness" at the Hearing. It's a set up.

The "confidential investigators" from the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Special Commissioner for Investigation (SCI) and Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) all work with whatever the principal gives them as the 'facts' of the matter that must be "substantiated". The Supervisor at the entity involved writes the "substantiation" letter even if the "facts" are not reviewed. At the hearings the CI ("confidential Investigator") usually testifies that all notes have been thrown away. The end result is:
1. Careers of educational staff ruined forever (permanently on the Ineligible/Inquiry List, or
     Inquiry/No Hire List);
2. Students with SOHO reports unseen by parents that ruin their school lives with lies and anecdotals
    only the Principal and Assistant Principal can write up and make up;
3. Permanent terror throughout the system that "you are next";
4. Physical, emotional, and social scars that alter the course of the lives of all victims;
5. The New York public school system left with unknown numbers of 'guilty' and 'innocent' people, of
    all ages, who will never get their rightful remedies because no one will ever know exactly what - or
    if - a person is guilty of anything, as there never are properly conducted investigations in any
6. A public school system that is segregated, based on lies, and hanging together by straws.

Whenever anyone gets close to finding out exactly what is going on, he or she is threatened into silence, or harmed into silence. If the first tactic wont work, the second is used.

Notice below that with suspensions, the Gotcha Squad uses SOHO ("Suspensions and Office of Hearing Online") reports to get rid of targeted people. The Rubber Room Gotcha Squad uses Technical Assistance Conference memos (TACs).
Alyce Barr
Alyce Barr, Principal From Hell At Brooklyn School For Collaborative Studies In Brooklyn, NY, Suspends Student After Parent Files A Complaint December 22, 2011

Alyce Barr considers Wanda Balbot an excellent middle school director, even after she refuses to give lunch to a student whose mother is outspoken, then assaults the girl in the hallway of the school and supends the student for "pushing the teacher in the hallway."

 "Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis," by Daniel J. Losen and Russell J. Skiba, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, makes for fascinating and depressing reading. After reviewing over 30 years of data from nearly 10,000 middle schools nationwide, it concludes that suspension is over-used as a disciplinary tool, and that youth of color -- black males especially -- are suspended far out of proportion to their numbers.
Drama Teacher Kori Rushton, Principal Alyce Barr, and Music Teacher Christine Piccirillo
The authors looked specifically at types of suspensions where school staff could exercise discretion -- incidents of fighting, disruptive behavior, and so on. They analyzed how many youth were suspended and broke down differences by race/ethnicity, and gender. What they learned was appalling: suspension rates have nearly doubled for students of all races/ethnicities since 1973; African American, Latino, and American Indian youth were suspended at higher rates than White youth; six percent of all black students were suspended in 1973, compared with 15 percent in 2006; and a breathtaking 28.3% of black males were suspended in 2006, compared with 10% of White males.

When researchers looked at the 18 largest urban school districts, they found that most "had several schools that suspended more than 50% of a given racial/gender group." They even found schools that suspended more than half of their White and Hispanic female students.

Really? Fifty percent?

Worse, the authors point out that the federal data they used only counts students who've been suspended at least once -- it doesn't actually count the number of suspensions. So their conclusions probably underestimate the frequency of suspensions, and the impact on these students' classroom time (which is linked to their likelihood of dropping out).

You might be shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Well, if it makes the school safer and helps other students learn better ..." Here's what the authors have to say about that:

(D)espite nearly two decades of implementation of zero tolerance disciplinary policies and their application to mundane and non-violent misbehavior, there is no evidence that frequent reliance on removing misbehaving students improves school safety or student behavior.

In fact, frequent use of suspension and expulsion as disciplinary tools doesn't seem to help other students do better:

(E)merging data indicate that schools with higher rates of school suspension and expulsion have poorer outcomes on standardized achievement tests, regardless of the economic level or demographics of their students. It is difficult to argue that disciplinary removals result in improvements to the school learning climate when schools with higher suspension and expulsion rates average lower test scores than do schools with lower suspension and expulsion rates.

Since research suggests that instructional time is strongly related to achievement outcomes, a policy shift is necessary:

It is critical to note that schools with very high suspension rates (e.g., suspending one-third or more of the student body at least once) are not receiving the kind of public attention or regular exposure that schools with low test scores receive.

The disparate impact on youth of color, and black youth in particular, makes this a civil rights issue, the authors say. Here's why:

Research on student behavior, race, and discipline has found no evidence that African-American over-representation in school suspension is due to higher rates of misbehavior (McCarthy and Hoge, 1987; McFadden et al., 1992; Shaw & Braden, 1990; Wu et al., 1982). Skiba et al. (2002) reviewed racial and gender disparities in school punishments in an urban setting, and found that White students were referred to the office significantly more frequently for offenses that appear more capable of objective documentation (e.g., smoking, vandalism, leaving without permission, and obscene language). African-American students, however, were referred more often for disrespect, excessive noise, threat, and loitering - behaviors that would seem to require more subjective judgment on the part of the referring agent. In short, there is no evidence that racial disparities in school discipline can be explained through higher rates of disruption among African-American students.

(See also The New York Times story from September 13, 2010, titled, "Racial Disparity in School Suspensions.")

September 13, 2010
Racial Disparity in School Suspensions

In many of the nation’s middle schools, black boys were nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls.

School authorities also suspended Hispanic and American Indian middle school students at higher rates than white students, though not at such disproportionate rates as for black children, the study found. Asian students were less likely to be suspended than whites.

The study analyzed four decades of federal Department of Education data on suspensions, with a special focus on figures from 2002 and 2006, that were drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools.

The study, “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization.

The co-authors, Daniel J. Losen, a senior associate at the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Russell Skiba, a professor at Indiana University, said they focused on suspensions from middle schools because recent research had shown that students’ middle school experience was crucial for determining future academic success.

One recent study of 400 incarcerated high school freshmen in Baltimore found that two-thirds had been suspended at least once in middle school.

Federal law requires schools to expel students for weapons possession and incidents involving the most serious safety issues. The authors said they focused on suspensions, which often result from fighting, abusive language and classroom disruptions, because they were a measure that school administrators can apply at their discretion.

Throughout America’s public schools, in kindergarten through high school, the percent of students suspended each year nearly doubled from the early 1970s through 2006, the authors said, an increase that they associate, in part, with the rise of so-called zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

In 1973, on average, 3.7 percent of public school students of all races were suspended at least once. By 2006, that percentage had risen to 6.9 percent.

Both in 1973 and in 2006, black students were suspended at higher rates than whites, but over that period, the gap increased. In 1973, 6 percent of all black students were suspended. In 2006, 15 percent of all blacks were suspended.

Among the students attending one of the 9,220 middle schools in the study sample, 28 percent of black boys and 18 percent of black girls, compared with 10 percent of white boys and 4 percent of white girls, were suspended in 2006, the study found.

The researchers found wide disparities in suspension rates among different city school systems and even among middle schools in the same district.

Using the federal data, they calculated suspension rates for middle school students, broken down by race, in 18 large urban districts.

Two districts showed especially high rates. In Palm Beach County, Fla., and Milwaukee, more than 50 percent of black male middle school students were suspended at least once in 2006, the study showed.

Jennie Dorsey, director of family services in the Milwaukee district, said the district had recognized that its suspension rate was too high and had begun a program aimed at changing students’ behavior without suspensions.

The program has brought only modest reductions in the suspension rate so far, but Ms. Dorsey predicted sharper reductions over several years.

Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County district, disputed the study’s statistics, but acknowledged that “all the data show an unacceptably high number of black students being suspended.” He said the district was using several strategies to reduce suspensions.

From Betsy Combier:

I started representing students k-12 at Superintendent Suspensions in New York City (you do not need a lawyer, and I am not an Attorney), about 9 years ago. A friend of mine gave my name to a friend of hers who had a son in kindergarden with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to protect his disability, which concerned his behavior. He was very smart, though, and hispanic. I agreed to represent him at his Superintendent's Suspension - meaning he was removed from the school and he could not return until the "sentence" was completed at an alternative site. We - the parent, the boy, and I - arrived at the hearing office in the Bronx, 501 Courtlandt Avenue (coincidentally the location of one of the Rubber Rooms), at 8:30AM as required. By 9:30AM the room was filled with black faces, both children and adults. No one had an advocate but the mom who asked for my advocacy, her son, and me.

We were told to go to a room, where the Hearing Officer encouraged the mom to declare "no contest" and her son would go immediately back to school. We refused, as we didnt want his record to be tainted at such a young age, as he did not do what the Principal was accusing him of. The Hearing Officer tried to sell the idea that the boy would go back to school immediately ONLY if she took the deal, basically admitting her son's guilt. This was the "Pre-Hearing".

When we walked into the hearing room I thought it was strange that the hearing office was reading the file supposedly prepared by the principal. We all sat down, and the Principal started talking about the "crime", that this little boy would not stay seated during his classes. She, the Principal, wanted him to be put on drugs. The parent wouldnt do it. And, by the way, the Principal was not a doctor.

The Principal called in a teacher and questioned this teacher about his behavior, which sounded terrible. The parent realized during the testimony that the dates were made up, and they were talking about incidents that did not happen, or that no one ever told her about.

I questioned the teacher next, and she got so confused at the questions that she could not talk. She had forgotten her prepared lies. The little boy went back to school.

But every couple of weeks the Principal would suspend him again. Then one day she, the principal, got so mad at him that she called EMS and had him taken to the Hospital for a psychiatric exam. The mom met the ambulance at the hospital. The doctor who examined him found nothing "psychotic" or unusual, and sent him back to school. The Principal sent the $800 bill to the parent for payment (for the ambulance).

I have continued to provide advocacy for children caught in the web of discrimination and abuse by the very people who are supposed to protect them and guard their safety.

In all the years that I have dont hearings in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, I have never seen a white face. Never.

It is also important to realize that no child with an IEP (who therefore needs service providers or special education) gets to add the information to the reasons for putting them on suspension. Also, no Alternative Learning Center has special education service providers nor do they have any suspension plans in order for the Department of Education to be in compliance with the Federal laws of the US.

For example, last week I was asked to do the Superintendent's Suspension Hearing for "student A" who was accused of yelling at Ms. Wanda Barbot, the Middle School Director at the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies at 610 Henry Street in Brooklyn NY. Alyce Barr is Principal.
                                                    Alyce Barr on facebook
Student A says that she was assaulted by Ms. Barbot, who told her on December 2, 2011 to clean out her locker as she was late to class after lunch. Barbot took away the lock, and told her that she (student A) should take everything with her, as anything left would probably disappear (thus the student never made class at all, she had to carry her books and gather them up, after her lock was taken). When Student A started emptying the locker, suddenly Ms. Barbot came back to her and yelled at her that she was late to class. Then Barbot pushed the student, and the video shows this. Barbot can be seen on the video walking away, and the next 5 minutes show that student A remained on the floor with no one around, no Safety Officer, no one. Student A went back to her classroom, and then called her mother about what Ms. barbot did to her. She went to the Principal's office and met her mother, who was told that student A was suspended.

Now if Barbot was, as she claimed, pushed twice by Student A, why did she walk away and leave Student A alone in the hallway? Four witnesses heard the shouting, and the girl, student A, was accused of threatening Ms. Barbot. Student A was suspended on December 2, 2011. She was ordered to attend an alternative site until her hearing which takes place on December 21, nineteen days after she was told to leave her school for "pushing Ms. Barbot". Anyone reading the four statements - all of which said something different - and the SOHO report, would believe, as did the Superintendent who determined that student A must be suspended, this student was a danger to the school and other students. Student A has been given no homework at the Suspension Site, and no services as listed on her IEP. She has been dumped, forgotten and neglected by the system.

Yet the mom wrote a letter to the Superintendent on December 1, 2011, the day before the incident, and told her that Ms. Barbot had been targeting her daughter for almost a year. Shockingly, student A has a twin brother in the same class at the same school, who, before the parent wrote her December 1, 2011 letter, never had been given any trouble at all. Then trouble began for him, as well, so that the Principal, Alyce Barr, and Ms. Barbot, could pretend that they were not targeting twin A. It was too late. The word to use here is "retaliation" by the Principal, Alyce Barr, to protect Ms. Wanda Barbot. I am sending an official complaint to be investigated.

The parent asked me to look into this situation, and asked me to post this information on my website, so other parents will begin to see how unfair the suspension process in New York City really is.

I have, of course, written about suspensions before. The scenario is always the same: a student who is either black or hispanic, probably with an IEP (which is worth $25,000+), is accused of something, anything, in order to remove this student from the school so that the administrators can use the federal funds for other children, or their own purposes (office help, for instance). As schools try to work within reduced budgets, the high-priced IEPs are very tempting, and abuse of special education children is rampant throughout New York City.

The Director of the Manhattan Suspension Site is Shirley Rowe, a very pretty African American woman who thrives on the children she can keep out of school and away from the services, homework, and environment that they need. In my opinion she cannot hide her disdain for these children who appear in her offices, and the hearing officers would rather give a year's suspension at an alternative site for a child with a disability than walk on the side of mediation, accommodation, justice. Personally, I dont get it. These people should not be around kids of any age, much less have a responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of any one of the 1 million students in the NYC school system.

The New York City Department of Education also does not want me, an advocate, to do suspension hearings. About 6-7 years ago I asked Michael Best, the NYC DOE General Counsel, to put my name and "parentadvocates" on the list of lawyers and advocates who assist parents with suspension. He refused, saying the list was for lawyers only. (wrong)

Then I started handing out my business card to the parents who came to the Manhattan Suspension hearing Office at West 125th Street. Ms. Rowe sent in her office staff to tell me to come into her office immediately, and when I did go to her office, she told me in no uncertain terms that I could NOT hand out my card in a DOE building. I of course asked why, and she told me that this was not allowed by "policy of the Chancellor". The next day I hired someone to stand downstairs outside of the building with me and hand out flyers that I wrote, telling parents about the suspension procedure and to call me, so that I could talk with them about the hearing process. Two security agents flew down the 3 flights of stairs (the suspension hearing site is not wheelchair accessible) and verbally assaulted us (I remained outside with the person I hired) saying we were forbidden from handing out my information, as the sidewalk belonged to the DOE. I asked where, exactly, the sidewalk belonging to the DOE ended, and I and my assistant stood on the outside of the dividing line. We stayed there, handing out flyers, until the flyers were all gone. The two security guards glared at me from that day on, furious that I thought of a way to challenge them. You must always think on your feet (no pun unintended).

Let me get back to the case of student A and the hearing at the Brooklyn Suspension Hearing. A very friendly lady by the name of Kyndell Reid is the Director, there. She was alarmed to see my press pass, which I always wear when I do a hearing. She told us that "no press is allowed here". I told her I was an advocate who also wrote on my website, not "press" in the "major media" way. At the prehearing and while talking with Ms. Reid in her office the parent and I were not allowed to see the records of Student A because the secret ammunition of the principal, Alyce Barr, is that the SOHO report is false, made up to make sure that student A is placed somewhere that is far away from her brother, the school, homework, her services, and anything that would assure her an appropriate education. Ms. Reid is an enabler. She is in her position to see that kids are suspended out of the public schools of Brooklyn.

On December 21, 2011, we - the parent, Student A, and me - arrived at the Brooklyn Suspension Office (335 Adams Street, 6th Floor) at 9:30AM. The school personnel, Alyce Barr, Wanda Barbot, and Vicky Madden, came in at 11:30. This became a problem later, because the Christmas Party for the office was that afternoon, and I ask alot of questions (we left at 4:45PM).

Ms. Christa Harper was the Attorney who did the Hearing. She looks like an African version of a Nordic Warrior. She asked questions of Ms. Barr, Ms. Barbot, and Vicky Madden. Student A and the parent testified as well. Harper would not allow me nor the parent to see the SOHO report on Student A that was in the file. She also refused to take out of her evidence all the false documentation on Student A that the mom received for the first time that morning, listing many incidents that she had never heard of before. Harper told me that the hearing was confidential and I could not write about what went on, nor what she said. Obviously I'm challenging her on this.
Elayna Konstan

By the time I finished asking questions of the Principal, Alyce Barr, Barr was holding her head and answered every question with "I dont recall! I dont remember!! She was very distraught. Harper attempted to terrorize me and finally said, "You know, Ms. Combier" all these questions doesnt help the student." I asked questions such as 'what evidence is there besides the video?' 'If the video shows Barbot pushing Student A, how come you are saying that this is not sufficient evidence'? And, 'as Elayna Konstan decreed that student A was suspended based upon the SOHO report, how come the parent never gets to see the SOHO report?' And stuff like that. The DOE says that the information in SOHO about each student in the NYC public school system is an intra-agency document, which the parent can never see. What did the Principal want for Student A as punishment for the alleged crime? Barr asked for a Second Opportunity School as a permanent placement, and she never mentioned any services as per Student A's IEP.

This is how the New York City Department of Education takes the federal funds from special needs students that are then used to fill budget gaps at the school, or used on a 'rainy day'.

See also Advocates For Children's "Empty Promises Report" which details how English Language Learners (ELL students) were pushed out of two high schools in Brooklyn, and

"HIGH SCHOOL DISCHARGES REVISITED: TRENDS IN NEW YORK CITY’SDISCHARGE RATES, 2000-2007" for the high discharge rates in NYC which, since 2002, have not declined.

This all makes no sense.