SIGN THE PETITION TO REMOVE RON SMOLKIN FROM PUBLIC SERVICE
Here is a link to the story in New York Teacher:
|UFT District 79 Representative Marc Korashan (left) with Chapter Leader Michael McPherrin|
NY1 Exclusive: City Principal Investigated In Retaliation Probe
A veteran public school principal is under investigation for allegedly attempting to smear one of his teachers through a hate-filled letter. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Last June, an anonymous letter was sent to the managers of Michael McPherrin's co-op. It contained ugly allegations against McPherrin, a public school teacher, and his longtime partner Andre Lopes.
"As you read, your jaw just keeps dropping because it just gets worse," McPherrin said.
There were private details, like the couple's HIV and immigration status, as well as allegations of drug use and pedophilia. It said, in part:
"The talk of the building is that both Mike and illegal immigrant Andre suffer from full blown AIDS and have no problem infecting others including the underage boys they bring to the apartment."
"This was an attempt to destroy our lives and me professionally," McPherrin said.
The writer claimed to represent concerned residents, but the building management called it "anonymous hate mail" and wrote McPherrin that, "our records indicate there are no complaints against you or your partner."
McPherrin says he knows who sent it: his boss, Ron Smolkin, the principal of Independence High School in Manhattan.
Since the addresses on the anonymous letters were handwritten, McPherrin hired a handwriting analyst who found it "highly likely" they matched samples of handwriting McPherrin said were Smolkin's. Then, there was the information in the notes.
"That we are HIV positive. That Andre has an outstanding immigration issue. That we have a second residence. The social security number. That information could’ve only been gotten from my personnel file," McPherrin said.
McPherrin says his trouble with Smolkin started after he became the teacher's union rep and organized staff members concerned about Smolkin's leadership.
"He has a history of retaliatory vindictive actions," McPherrin said.
Other staff members at the school make the same charge. In one case, a judge ruled Smolkin falsely accused a school aide of an assault inside the building and fired her without benefits. A former assistant principal says Smolkin had her removed on trumped-up charges after they hadn’t been getting along. Current staff members also gave NY1 other examples -- off the record -- saying they were afraid of further retaliation.
The Manhattan district attorney's office, state Human Rights Commission and teachers union are all investigating the anonymous letter. But Department of Education lawyers argue there is "no evidence of a hostile work environment" and have asked the human rights commission to drop the case.
Smolkin would not speak with NY1 on the record but through a lawyer says he denies the allegations. Also, the DOE and the groups investigating him all have policies against speaking on the record about ongoing cases.
Meanwhile, McPherrin says the principal continues to target him and has slapped him with four disciplinary charges this school year. He says they're the first in his 23 years of teaching.
From Betsy Combier:
Below is a letter that Mike McPherrin sent the DOE in 2013:
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue, Room 981 EBA
Albany, NY 12234
In the spring of 2010, I was elected UFT representative for our Local Chapter, and began asking some questions about the budget, and safety issues at school, including unchecked drug and gang activity, and upticks in physical threats to teachers by students. Teachers were developing a consensus on how to address these issues to discuss with the administration, but it appeared Mr. Smolkin interpreted this as a personal attack on him. (See Exhibit A) I became a target for his retaliation at my home and at school.
For your information, Mr. Smolkin is being sued by two other former subordinates. The most recent case concerns another “anonymous” letter to Mr. Smolkin from a “concerned parent” that the teacher was a pedophile. (See Exhibit D) She was “U” rated based on this letter, and was forced out of her position at Independence High School. She is being represented by Mr. Taub as well, in a separate civil claim. In the other case, Mr. Smolkin fired a school aid without benefits claiming she “broke the wrist of her DC37 Representative during a break in a disciplinary meeting.” This claim was contradicted by a secret recording made by the school aide, and played in court. (Ms. Adrian Floyd: 646-329-6957) The judge sternly admonished Mr. Smolkin and his DOE lawyer, and restored the benefits to the school aid. Mr. Smolkin was never called to account for these actions, including perjuring himself under oath. Mr. Smolkin was found to have misused school funds by paying his secretary from school funds to edit and type his graduate school research papers, according to the Conflict of Interest Board. (See Exhibit E) He was fined and had to return the money. It is truly stunning to anyone familiar with these cases, that Mr. Smolkin has not been removed.
Please see Exhibit F for another anonymous letter found in my personnel file, purporting to be a disgruntled female student. The letter contains gay-baiting, and is written in “Ebonics”. The handwriting expert compared the writing with the original Smolkin samples, and found it highly likely” that the authors are the same.