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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mike Bloomberg Loses In Sergio Hernandez' FOIL Case

Court rules against NYC over ex-chancellor emails

NEW YORK - (AP) -- A court has upheld a judge's decision ordering Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to release emails between his office and former schools chancellor Cathie Black.
The emails were requested by an investigative journalist under the Freedom of Information Law. The city's Law Department contends the emails are exempt from the law.
Sergio Hernandez sued the administration, saying they refused a Nov. 19, 2011 request for emails leading up to Black's controversial hiring and short-lived tenure.
A judge ordered the city to release the emails to Hernandez. The City appealed and on Tuesday an Appellate Court upheld the judge's decision.
A City lawyer said the city is reviewing the decision and will ask the court permission to appeal.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Hernandez v Office of the Mayor of the City of New York
2012 NY Slip Op 08067
Decided on November 27, 2012
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on November 27, 2012 
Tom, J.P., Saxe, Richter, Abdus-Salaam, Feinman, JJ.
8623 106213/11 

[*1]In re Sergio Hernandez, Petitioner-Respondent, The 
Office of the Mayor of the City of New York, Respondent-Appellant.

Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York (Susan 
Paulson of counsel), for appellant. 
Schlam Stone Dolan LLP, New York (Raffi Melkonian of 
counsel), for respondent. 

Order and judgment (one paper), Supreme Court, New York County (Alice Schlesinger, J.), entered December 6, 2011, granting the petition brought pursuant to CPLR article 78 seeking to annul a determination of respondent Office of the Mayor of the City of New York, dated January 26, 2011, which denied petitioner's requests under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for certain email messages sent from or received by any government email accounts assigned to the Office of the Mayor to or from Cathleen Black, at the time she was a nominee for the position of New York City School Chancellor, or any email address ending with the domain name of the company that employed her, to the extent of directing respondent to produce redacted copies of such emails, and directing the parties to appear for a conference on the issue of attorney's fees and costs, unanimously affirmed, without costs.
The motion court properly directed respondent to disclose the redacted emails, which are not exempt from disclosure as inter- or intra-agency materials (Public Officers Law § 89[2][g]). Black was not an agent of the City since she had not yet been retained as Chancellor (cf. Matter of Sea Crest Constr. Corp. v Stubing, 82 AD2d 546 [2d Dept 1981]). Further, Black was not acting simply as an outside consultant on behalf of the City, but was a private citizen with interests that may have diverged from those of the City (see Matter of Tuck-It-Away Assoc., L.P. v Empire State Dev. Corp., 54 AD3d 154, 163 [1st Dept 2008]; see also Matter of Town of Waterford v New York State Dept. of Envtl. Conservation, 18 NY3d 652 [2012]; cf. Matter of Xerox Corp. v Town of Webster, 65 NY2d 131 [1985]).
Costs and attorney's fees should be decided by the motion court in the first instance.
ENTERED: NOVEMBER 27, 2012 [*2]

LA Rubber Rooms: Los Angeles' Teacher Jails Fill Up

LAUSD 'jails' fill with teachers as misconduct complaints rise


Posted:   11/27/2012 07:51:59 PM PST
Updated:   11/27/2012 08:00:16 PM PST

Students are escorted to a waiting bus as they leave Miramonte Elementary school after classes Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 in Los Angeles. Veteran Miramonte Elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested Monday, Jan. 30, on charges of lewd conduct with 23 children after a film processor gave police photos showing blindfolded children with their mouths taped and cockroaches on their faces. Berndt remained jailed Tuesday on $2.3 million bail. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

They call it "teacher jail" - the administrative offices where nearly 300 Los Angeles Unified educators accused of misconduct spend months on end reading, blogging or texting.
The cost is enormous: $1.4 million a month in salaries while district and law-enforcement investigations proceed, and $865,000 to hire substitutes to fulfill their classroom duties.
Los Angeles Unified officials insist the cost is worth it - the price the district has to pay for years of downplaying or ignoring suspected abuse. That practice exploded into a major scandal in February with revelations of longtime patterns of misconduct by teachers at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima and Miramonte Elementary in South L.A.
Now, under a new zero-tolerance policy, scores of educators accused of misconduct have been pulled from classrooms and are facing dismissal. The number of housed teachers has more than doubled in the last 18 months.
Even grabbing a student's arm or looking down a girl's blouse triggers a full-scale investigation, with the district moving aggressively to fire those found to have endangered the well-being of students.
"You touch a child inappropriately, expect to lose your job," said David Holmquist, the district's general counsel. "We have zero tolerance for inappropriate touching and that probably hasn't always been the case, to this degree."
That total of 300 includes 50 teachers who have been placed on unpaid status as the district moves to fire them. Officials say there also are "a handful" of teachers who have successfully appealed their dismissals and are collecting their salary, but who officials do not want back in the classroom.
The district's handling of misconduct complaints is the subject of a report set for release Thursday by the California State Auditor's office. Requested by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-South Gate, it is expected to look at the policies and procedures at the district and a sampling of cases at six schools.
The audit is likely to address LAUSD's more aggressive approach to pulling educators from the classroom - so many, in fact, that housed teachers are split into morning and afternoon shifts, with the balance of their "workday" spent at home.
Teachers union leaders say they certainly want to rid their ranks of abusers, but they believe the district is overreacting to the scandal and wasting precious resources by failing to differentiate between an inadvertent touch and predatory behavior.
"The district is diverting important resources away from investigating credible allegations of potential real misconduct and instead is abusing the system to smear the reputations of teachers," said Warren

Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, Calif., photographed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
"LAUSD is using the process to get rid of teachers they don't like or don't want by launching misconduct investigations against them when there's no reasonable belief on anyone's part that any real misconduct occurred."
Superintendent John Deasy disputes that contention, as well as claims by some housed teachers that he is conducting a "witch hunt" to thin the ranks of high-paid employees nearing retirement, when they'd become eligible for lifetime health benefits.
"That is completely inaccurate," he said. "What we want is for students to be safe. A witch hunt would be if we were going after teachers. But the complaints come to us, and we're responding by ensuring that policies are enforced."
LAUSD Human Resources chief Vivian Ekchian said it's not only the district that has changed its outlook in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal.
"Students have been educated and empowered, and they recognize harassment when they see it and they know they can tell someone," said Ekchian, a former teacher and principal. "Parents have expectations for high-performing teachers who are fit to teach with moral conduct that can be defended."
Under the updated guidelines for housing a teacher, employees can be pulled from the classroom and reassigned if officials receive a "credible allegation" of misconduct that warrants an investigation.
But some educators reassigned to administrative

Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, Calif., photographed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

offices - which they've dubbed "teacher jail" or "rubber rooms" - say they've been ensnared in a system that denies them due process and is weighted heavily against them.
Employees complain that they have to sign in and out, even to use the restroom, and that they're not allowed to visit with their fellow teachers in adjoining cubicles.
While the district policy says teachers should be required to perform "duties within their job classification," housed teachers say there's no real work for them to do, so they spend their time reading, blogging or talking.
What's most upsetting, they say, is that they're not told of the specific allegations against them until the investigation is completed, to prevent them from contacting students or parents. That leaves the teachers in emotional limbo, compounded by the fear that they'll eventually be fired.
"I'm in tears every day that I'm here," said one arts teacher, adding that she's suffered from headaches, vomiting and hives in the three months that she's been housed.
The district tries to wrap up its probe in 120 working days - that's six months - although complaints involving physical or sexual abuse may take longer because police must first determine whether to pursue criminal charges.
"The number of calls skyrocketed in the weeks and months after Miramonte," said Juan Perez, one of three detectives assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department's Sexually Exploited Child Unit.
"We're again experiencing a significant increase in the number of calls, especially those like, `The teacher made me feel uncomfortable,' or `The teacher brushed my hair or touched my leg.'
"Some we can solve in a day or two, the others may take us months. It depends on the availability of the victims and the complexity of the allegations," Perez said.
Once police complete their investigation, administrators can interview students, parents and co-workers to determine whether the employee may have violated professional guidelines, such as the state Education Code or the district's Code of Conduct with Students.
According to the policy, the housed employee is interviewed last.
Some housed teachers say, however, that officials had completed their report and decided to take disciplinary action by the time they were finally asked for their version of events.
Randy Traweek is a sixth-grade teacher at the Westside Global Awareness Magnet, and a John Hopkins Teaching Fellow whose classroom was once featured on "Good Morning America."
He's been housed since April, when his principal heard rumors circulating around campus that Traweek had touched the buttocks of a female student in October 2011. The LAPD investigated and found no criminal wrongdoing.
The district, however, asked Traweek's students whether anyone had ever made them feel uncomfortable. Officials are pursuing a case against the 28-year LAUSD veteran for touching the girl, as well as one boy who said Traweek had hugged him and another who said the teacher had smacked him twice on the rear end.
Traweek is fighting the allegations, saying the boy he reportedly hugged wasn't yet assigned to his class at the time of the alleged incident, and the incident with the other boy wasn't corroborated by any witnesses.
"Oh, my God, I would never hurt these kids - never, never, never," Traweek said. "I just love teaching kids. It's my passion in life."
Despite the district's hard-line stance against misconduct, officials say they will return a teacher to the classroom if evidence shows that no wrongdoing occurred.
That's what happened Tuesday, when a veteran teacher was told she can return on Wednesday to her San Fernando Valley elementary school after being housed for 10 weeks.
"I am so beyond excited," said the teacher, who asked not to be identified.
According to the teacher, she'd accidentally "tapped" a student's stomach while trying to get him to stop squirming as he stood next to her desk. The boy began crying, so the teacher took him to the office, alerted the principal and contacted the boy's mother, who thanked her for the call.
"It made me really nervous," the teacher said. "Post-Miramonte, it's a new game."
Three days later, the boy's father filed a complaint and the teacher was pulled from the classroom. Parents at the school rallied around her, posting an online petition, and printing T-shirts with her name.
"I know the teacher and know she wouldn't hurt a kid," said mom Julia Bricklin.
"I don't begrudge another parent looking out for their own child, but we need a better process. We need to be able to put in a system that will punish them immediately or return them to the classroom if they're found to be innocent.
"If we conservatively say that many teachers deserve to be removed, then there's a number who don't," Bricklin said. "The process isn't fair and it's cruel and it's not fair to the children."
Officials say the process may be time-consuming and frustrating, but it's the best they can do as they try to balance student safety and teachers' rights.
Despite the pending audit and the continued outrage over the sex-abuse scandal, Ekchian said LAUSD's teaching corps is one to be proud of.
"The majority of our employees do an outstanding job," she said. "When we discuss our housed employees, it is a very small number who are being reassigned so investigations can occur for the safety of our students."

Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, Calif., photographed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

Boys and Girls HS: Rated Bottom In NYC, Keeps Bernie Gassaway Anyway

Today The Daily News published a puff piece about Bernie Gassaway and his F-rated school, Boys and Girls High School. What is not mentioned is that teachers are up in arms against Gassaway, students have no illusions about graduating and are trying to transfer out, and teachers are being sent to the rubber room as fast as possible. It's a real shame that the reporter didn't really examine what is going on.
Bernie Gassaway says it's all the teachers' fault. And I have a bridge to sell you.

Betsy Combier

read this post on NYC Rubber Room Reporter:

Boys and Girls HS Principal Bernard Gassaway Defends The School's second "F" Rating


“Pride of Bed-Stuy” flunks again and could close for good 

Boys and Girls High School parents, teachers, adminstrators vow to fight closure








Principal Bernard Gassaway inside Boys and Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant. The school received its second  F in its yearly evaluation. (Anthony Lanzilote for/New York Daily News)


Principal Bernard Gassaway inside Boys and Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant. The school received its second F in its yearly evaluation. (Anthony Lanzilote for/New York Daily News)

“The Pride of Bed-Stuy” isn’t going down without a fight.
Boys and Girls High School on Fulton St. landed on the city’s list earlier this week of 24 schools that could be closed following its second F rating in a row.
Education Dept. officials are headed to the school next Tuesday for a meeting in what could mean the end of the school - a move many parents, teachers and administrators are determined to stop.
“Grades don’t go from an F to an A overnight,” said embattled principal Bernard Gassaway. “It’s going to be a struggle.”
Gassaway took over the fabled high school in 2009 after longtime principal Frank Mickens retired and asked him to run the struggling institution.
Since then, he has introduced a slew of new programs - but the big numbers don’t point to much change and have become ammunition for Gassaway’s critics:
* Just 71% of the 1631 students at the school showed up for class during the 2011-12 school year - well below the city average of 85.4%.
* Boys and Girls had a 39% graduation rate - also dramatically below the city-wide average of 65.5%.
* Only 21% of the 2012 graduating class went on to either a two or a four-year college - also far below the city’s 49% mark.
The numbers were so low that the school was ranked one of the worst in the city on Monday.
“I could say we’re not going to accept [disabled students] or [struggling students] and our grades would rise. But then we would be trying to keep students out,” said Gassaway, who insisted new programs have brought small changes to the school. rked to
As many as 70 students are part of an honors program earning college credit at Long Island University.
Last week the school cut the ribbon on a newly-renovated library that now has new computers for students to use.
Gassaway has also beefed-up security by having students swipe cards to get into the cafeteria to cut down on loitering after lunch - a problem that led to safety concerns and class cutting.
Despite the changes, teachers said it was Gassaway’s crusade to get rid of long time instructors that put the school in danger of closure.
Teachers say positions haven’t been filled and inexperienced substitutes have been used to fill permanent slots.
“Mr. Gassaway is pointing to the school’s poor performance as evidence that the teachers are incompetent, but many of these kids have not had a consistent teacher,” said one instructor. .
“The school will get another F under Gassaway,” said another.
Parents said the principal is the least of the problems.
“He’s a strong principal. It’s probably more resources that’s needed for the school,” said Cassandra Thomas, 39.
Gassaway points to a conversation he had with former Chancellor Joel Klein in 2009 where he told him that turning the school around would take time.
“I said I want to come in and stop the hemorrhaging and I did,” said Gassaway. “Now it’s time to build.”

Fear of School Closure Is Personal for This Principal


Whether Bed-Stuy's Boys and Girls High School—with its declining enrollment and F ratings—survives is not just a professional concern for Principal Bernard Gassaway. His classroom roots, his former marriage, his career ambitions are all tied to the building on Fulton Street.Printer-friendly version
By Darren Sands | Wednesday, May 9, 2012
On a recent weekday morning, Bernard Gassaway, principal of Boys and Girls High School, bounced casually down the stairs while giving a tour of the building to a new guidance counselor. As the tour was coming to a close, the atmosphere along the path he took back toward his office was suddenly ripe for a fight: In a busy stairwell, an agitated guard had tried to stop an angry student for some offense. Gassaway watched the boy jerk his backpack away from the guard and retreat up the stairs, his face full of rage.

Gassaway casually made his way toward the student, grabbed him and put him in a playful headlock, an ironic demur of the aggressive manner in which the guard seemed to be handling the situation.

"Did you grab him like this?"

Unable to maneuver, the kid just smiled.

"I didn't do nothing to him," barked the guard, who, for his part, was still irritated. As if to stick up for his friend, another student then stepped to Gassaway.

"What, I grab him and you show up? I got people, too." He winked at his new hire.

He disguised it with playful banter, but Gassaway was in a solemn mood. Earlier that morning, rising before the sun, he stopped by the Jamaica, Queens home he once lived in with his ex-wife, Traci, and daughter, Atiya. There are still pieces of his life there, loose ends that need tying. The home is in contract to be sold. "I'm not going to fool myself," he replied when asked how he was doing personally. "I think I'm OK. I know that you've got to take care of yourself before you take care of others. And I haven't always done that."

It was during the first school days of September of 2009 that Gassaway and his ex-wife began their difficult separation. The freshman class that arrived then will be seniors when the 2012-2013 school year begins in September. And yet, while his tenure reaches what he says is an emotional milestone, there's a growing weight to the long-held fear that the Department of Education could elect to phase-out or close the school. This worry has tempered Gassaway's anticipation of his personal landmark and even cast a pall over efforts to save the school.

In a city where DOE brass have made a practice of closing large high schools and replacing them with smaller ones, the pressure to avoid a fate similar to, say, nearby Paul Robeson, is intense. In a system where principals have been given increased authority and accountability, Gassaway will get much of the the credit or the blame if Bed-Stuy's Boys and Girls survives—or fails.

"The weight of it [possibly] closing is tremendous," Gassaway said, alluding to the rich history of noted physicians, attorneys, politicians and athletes that the school has produced. "You're not closing down a new school. Boys and Girls High is more than just an institution. But the more imminent weight I feel is when it comes to dealing with the children day-to-day: Dealing with their concerns, their issues, their aspirations … and asking ourselves how we help create the future doctors and lawyers, and [figuring out] what role we play in that."

Despite history, challenges abound

That Gassaway would use a headlock, of all devices, to defuse a potentially volatile situation illustrates his deep ties to two generations of students: Gassaway taught that angry boy's father as a young English teacher at Boys and Girls from 1988 to 1991 under his late mentor, the legendary principal Frank Mickens. In fact, Gassaway's 2009 return modeled his mentor's legacy; Mickens, too, left Boys and Girls in 1982, only to return as principal in 1986. Both sons of Brooklyn, each also received their bachelor's degree upstate.

Boys and Girls' condition is viewed by many as critical. One out of every four Boys and Girls students receives special education services. The school's graduation rate is about 45 percent, and school-wide attendance stands 71.2 percent as of May 7. It also received an ‘F' in every major category on its most recent Dept. of Education Progress Report. Once brimming with as many as 5,000 students, the school now has just over 1,500 students. School spirit is in short supply, but not for lack of trying on the part of its boys Kangaroos boys basketball team. Led bycoach Ruth Lovelace (the first female coach to win a boys state title), the team won both the PSAL and New York State Federation titles in March. The headline of an article in the New York Daily News read, ‘ROOS RULE'. It hangs in Gassaway's office.

"The culture of the kids is different," said staff member Katrina Brown, a 2008 graduate of Boys and Girls and aspiring principal who arrived at Boys and Girls the year after Mickens retired. An assistant to assistant principal Bridget Carrington, Brown was a part of an incoming class of 1,500. But the number of students isn't the only thing that's changed, she says. "When I was a student, the kids wanted to do better. They wanted to graduate. A lot of these kids don't care. Their makeup is different. They don't want to be involved in school sports or activities. Now? They hardly want even come in the morning. I used to dread going home – and not because I had a bad home life. I was just so involved in what was going on here."

A family grows in Brooklyn

Many students are not as fortunate as Brown. Gassaway believes he could solve most of the school's problem's if he could strengthen the family. That would seem an impossible duty, or at least one not a fit for a principal. But while Gassaway has not been able to repair each of his students' home lives, the school itself—as it has gotten smaller—has actually become a family.

There's Constancia Simpson-Hayes, whose room on the second floor has a lounge area where students can read or chat quietly. A product of and staunch believer in the public school system who for years worked in college administration, Simpson-Hayes arrived last November as the school's new director of college and career services, and casually refers to her appointment as coming "back home." The lab had five working computers when she got there; it now has 16.

"We have a new family member," was how Gassaway introduced Aja Brown, the new guidance counselor whom he was showing around the building the morning the fight almost broke out. Staff in the Hub, the office that serves as a central processing unit for everything from incoming calls to faxes and guests, fawned over her as if she had walked through a church office.

Since then, in just a couple of weeks on the job, she's already begun the arduous task of placing students with little chance of earning a high school diplomafrom Boys and Girls in alternative schools. Others she will prepare for job training or other essential services. No matter their path, her bosses' mandate is to monitor their progress as far as she can.
"I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be," Brown said.
That sense of belonging permeates the school's culture, now. As a pillar in the community, Boys and Girls—a zoned school which serves numerous area housing projects—prides itself on not giving up on any of its students, especially the most needy. "We believe students achieve success and embrace learning when they feel safe and are supported by competent and caring adults," reads the school's vision statement.
Coming up with resources hasn't been easy, but expanded offerings give the most vulnerable students access to services for which there is dire need. As many as 250 boys participate in an empowerment program titled Boys II Men. At night once a quarter, Gassaway opens the school for the boys to play sports and participate in workshops and character building. Many of his staff members volunteer.
Students now have access to health services, intervention specialists and counselors on-site.
Facing expectations

Perhaps Gassaway's most public battles over the course of the past three years played out when he began to suspend athletes from contests if they didn't pass their first period class because of poor attendance. The policy kept star players out of key games, especially in basketball, and there was little if any budging on the principal's behalf. This year, athletes are to maintain a 70 average and are also required to do 30 hours of community service. The PSAL recently adopted a similar policy for student athletes.

Outlined in a memo made available to Brooklyn Bureau, Boys and Girls' Comprehensive Education Plan for the 2011-12 school year underline high expectations for students:

  • 70 percent of students will have at least 11 credits by June 2012 (Just 40 percent had at least 5.5 credits as of last February
  • 70 percent of students who sit for any Regents exam will pass with at least a 65 by the end of the school year (28.6 percent of students who sat last year passed with at least a 65)
  • Boys and Girls will achieve a graduation rate of 65 percent by August 2012 (Just 30 percent of the junior class are on track to graduate).

    Measured against the performance of the school to date, the goals are ambitious. But Gassaway thinks changes in the school's atmosphere make them attainable.

    "Two years ago, I was putting out the fires," Gassaway starts. "So they'd say, ‘Mr. Gassaway, the building's rocking.' And you can feel it, anyway. ‘Mr. Gassaway, there's was a fight on the third, fight on the second, fight on the first.' And I'm, like, ‘Shit.' So I'd say, ‘O.K., time to put on the Superman cape.' So I'd have to go out and make the hard decisions, getting students out of the building."

    A personal stake

    It's tough to determine how, in the next 18 months, the school will perform, how Gassaway and his staff will frame that record and how the DOE will interpret it. What is clear is that the results, and Tweed's reaction to them, will affect students, teachers, the institution and its principal.

    At just 51, Gassaway is a man conscientious, if not obsessed, with legacy. He wrote a memoir, Reflections of an Urban High School Principal, in his mid-forties. This concern is part of the reason why the uncertain future of Boys and Girls unsettles him so.

    Ironically, this is not because he knows he wants to spend the rest of his career in urban high schools. Gassaway has other aspirations. He has talked openly about one day soon finishing his coursework for his Ph.D. at Columbia Teacher's College and becoming a professor. But if he makes that move, the manner of making it matters. Will he walk out the door, run—or get chased?

    "My field is education," he said. "If I'm going to be a tenured professor at some college, what am I going to profess? That I was in an urban high school [that] failed, so I can talk to you about failing, but I can't talk to you about success?"

    Boys & Girls Fights For its Life

    As the clock ticks down on the fate of Boys & Girls High School, Principal Bernard Gassaway vowed to steer a new course for the pride and joy of Bed-Stuy.
    Now if he can only get the city’s Department of Education (DOE) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to join together in embracing his plan to turn the school around.
    “I will work with every fiber in my being to keep Boys & Girls from closing,” Gassaway promised a packed Community Board 3 meeting earlier this week at Restoration Plaza.
    Gassaway said while some in the DOE are trying to close the school and turn it into four smaller schools, he sees it becoming one of the city’s larger schools that works much like Bayside High School in Queens.
    In order to do this Gassaway wants the power to get rid of as much as fifty percent of the staff through a federally funded “turn around” model of academic change.
    About 25 percent of the staff is stellar and another 25 percent are competent and want to improve, but the other 50 percent need to be replaced and the principal needs the authority to remove them, he said.
    Under Gassaway’s plan, he would turn the roughly 2,000 student body school into four small academies under one roof as opposed to the DOE’s often-used plan to actually break Boys & Girls up into four small separate schools.
    In order for Gassaway’s plan to succeed the DOE needs to file an application with the state by April 30 to access federal money and implement the ‘‘turn around” model for change. The model is one of four the Obama Administration uses under its improvement grants. Boys & Girls also fits the urban school criteria to being eligible for the program.
    The rub is the DOE and UFT are at odds on how to remove 50 percent of the staff.
    “We’re working with the union and that’s where we are now, but the deadline is approaching,” said DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfield. “Our primary interest is to make sure these struggling schools have the best chance of success, but the UFT is not working with us and there’s no question on who is dragging their feet here.”
    Several calls and e-mails to the UFT were not returned at press time.
    But Gassaway and others in the community also dispute many of the DOE’s claims that Boys & Girls is such a struggling school.
    “The DOE is sending us (at-risk) kids from outside the district which is weighing down the school,” said Gassaway. “Not only did we win the city boys basketball title but we also have one of the better robotic teams in the city.”
    Also standing firmly behind the school is City Councilman Al Vann.
    “I fully support Principal Gassaway and believe that, if provided with the necessary support from the DOE and all stakeholders, he can return Boys & Girls High School to academic prominence.”