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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.