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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Tragedy of Bullying: Death At Manhattan Village Academy

The Department of Education's policy of pooh-poohing student bullying, harassment and abuse as the fault of the teacher or no one, has claimed another victim.

Bullying is always sad.

But when the bullying leads to a senseless death, then someone must be held accountable.

Aileen Jiminian, 17, jumped in front of a train on Thursday because she was bullied too much, say fellow students at the Manhattan Village Academy.

The Principal, Hector Geager, tried his best to keep the tragedy a secret and evidently went from room to room saying that there was an "accident". He sent out a letter to all families, begging the students to not post anything about the sudden death on any social media. Someone at the school sent it to me:

Students feel guilty after bullied teen jumps in front of train

A Manhattan student who was bullied by classmates slipped out of school during lunch hour — and killed herself by stepping into the path of a subway train, The Post has learned.
Aileen Jiminian, 17, a senior, left the Manhattan Village Academy campus in Flatiron on Thursday and climbed onto the tracks at the 23rd Street Station on Seventh Avenue, where she was fatally struck by a 1 train at around 12:30 p.m., police said.
“She wasn’t in my grade, but I know that other kids would pick on her,” a student said Monday.
“It’s really sad. She would get called stupid or ugly or awkward. Some kids are just really mean.”
Several students went to the school’s grief counselor and said they were upset with themselves over “how they treated her,” said a Manhattan Village Academy source.
“Some of the students were feeling guilty because they were so mean to her,” the source said.
School staff told students not to discuss Jiminian and described her death as an “accident,” according to the school source.
“We were told not to talk about her or what happened,” a student said.
“Our teacher told us last week that she got into a bad accident.”
The school sent out a letter to students’ families on Monday informing them that Jiminian had “passed away.”
“This loss of Aileen is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students,” reads the letter, which was signed by the school’s principal, Hector Geager.
It ends with a plea to parents to ask their kids not to post anything about Jiminian online.
“Please, at the request of Aileen’s family, impress upon your child not to post any information regarding this tragedy on social media,” the letter says.
Jiminian was a 2016 semifinalist for the New York Times College Scholarship program. She had a twin sister who attends the school.
Manhattan Village Academy referred all questions to the Department of Education.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our students and my heart breaks for her family and the entire school community at Manhattan Village Academy,” Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa said in a statement.
“We are working closely with the school to provide crisis resources to support and comfort those grieving during this very difficult time.”
Additional reporting by Susan Edelman and Danika Fears

Geager is no stranger to wrong-doing, as a previous NY POST article proves:

September 6, 2011 | 4:00am
SLAP ON THE WRIST: Manhattan Village Academy Principal Hector Geager was fined for illegally expelling a student.

The city cut backdoor deals with a handful of misbehaving principals last year rather than seek stiffer penalties through disciplinary hearings, records obtained by The Post show.
Among those who signed hush-hush agreements with the Department of Education was Manhattan Village Academy Principal Hector Geager — who dealt with a troublesome student by altering her transcript, handing her a diploma and illegally expelling her three months shy of graduation.
The student, whom Geager also barred from prom and graduation, told officials that the popular principal had “simply given her the passing grades to get her out,” according to an internal DOE probe.
Before even filing charges last year, however, DOE officials reached an agreement not to pursue further discipline against Geager if he simply paid a $10,000 fine.
Geager, who remains principal of a school that boasted a 98 percent graduation rate last year, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
But critics say these types of plea bargains highlight an increased hesitancy by the DOE to forcefully discipline wayward principals ever since it granted them more authority — and took on a greater role in selecting them — several years back.
“The Bloomberg Department of Ed can’t define ‘accountability’ to simply be rating students and teachers with standardized tests,” said Patrick Sullivan, the Manhattan appointee to the Panel for Educational Policy. “Transgressions of administrators need to be addressed in a fair and transparent fashion rather than hidden to avoid embarrassment to the adults in the administration.”
Other deals reached last year include one for former HS for International Business and Finance Principal Juan Alvarez, who tackled a student in The Bronx school and e-mailed an anti-Semitic rant to a fellow principal. Alvarez was demoted but allowed to stay around students as a teacher.
DOE spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the agency takes principals’ work histories and the facts of each case into account, and added that officials felt the school leaders had been properly held accountable.
“These settlements allowed us to move forward quickly, so that the schools could focus on teaching and learning, without these matters serving as a distraction,” she said.
Additional reporting by Amber Sutherland and Lachlan Cartwright
Case Study # 1
A Department of Education probe confirmed that Iris Blige, principal of the Fordham HS for the Arts, instructed assistant principals to give poor ratings to teachers without actually observing them. Blige signed a deal agreeing to pay a $7,500 fine.
Case Study # 2
Investigators found Maria Penaherrera of PS 114 had rigged bids and mismanaged the school onto the city’s closure list. But she’s off the hook because she agreed to be demoted to assistant principal — with the opportunity to earn tenure next year.


Anonymous said...

MVA was supposed to be a school that could take 'at risk' students and get them enthusiastically ready for college. At least, that what my family was told when Some of the programs were pretty cool. I still remember my internship, tae kwon do class, fun research projects, and the teachers rolling a tv into the room so we could watch and learn from the OJ trial - which they felt at the time was a good way to teach us to look at the future and how we present ourselves to the world. I also remember one lecture about how even someone widely regarded as a hero could easily have the world turn its back on him once he does something significant enough to get them to forget all the good stuff.

I did have a handful of pretty ok memories there.

Mary Butz was principle back then and based on the articles this blog has been keeping track of, she must have taught Hector everything he knows. She did the same to me that he did to illegally expel that other student. I only learned about it now, because of this blog. Only, I wasn't offered my diploma. Instead I was accused by Butz of something I didn't do and she attempted to get the teacher who's name she used to corroborate her story. Interestingly enough, he refused to do so when a concerned social worker investigated my case.

Her lie, destroyed my already rocky relationship with my parents, who refused to even look at me until the day the social worker called them and told them what she found out. My emotional well being was virtually non existent for years after that fiasco.

I thought I was the only person they did this to - and at the time, being a naive 16 year old student, I had no idea they had violated my rights or that I could recover damages for it. It seems they are still in the habit of sweeping anything that doesn't make them look good under the rug and I wish I had sued now, because maybe this poor girl would not have been subjected to the same kind of neglect and mistreatment - which it seems, ultimately lead to her suicide.

While, I know it will never be enough and it won't bring Aileen back, I implore the Jiminian family to seek monetary damages against the principal as well as any teachers who attempted to downplay the severity of their failure. Have them investigated and press charges. This absolutely cannot be allowed to go on. By all accounts, this girl had a promising future and this family deserves to be compensated for their loss.

DOE should be ashamed for covering this stuff up. Their excuse about getting back to teaching is nonsense - what's the point if they are going to kick to the curb any student who doesn't make them look good. they should be more concerned with the impact they are having on the lives of fragile young minds.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the comment above! The sad thing is Principal Geager is the BIGGEST BULLY OF THEM ALL!!! He acts like he's there to encourage and set great example for your child, but once they enter you will soon find out that it's all a FACADE!!! What you read on paper is NOT WHAT IT SEEMS! If he has an issue with your child, trust that he will pick on and bully them! The teachers and staff are very afraid to speak up and act like his puppets. I wish teachers, staff and school safety would finally speak up!! The fact Geager continues to perform illegal actions and NO ONE is saying anything and that the DOE/Superintendent/Chancellor has not done anything about it is BEYOND me! There's a lot that's being hidden and it NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED! When he was fined in 2010 that SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE END OF HIM!!!!


Do your research and you will find many negative reviews about the school and Geager. Here's an excerpt from
Former MVA Teacher • 9 months ago
Do not be fooled. This principal frequently treats teachers in a very disrespectful, likely illegal manner. His word choice is often unprofessional in one-on-one meetings with new teachers or teachers whose Regents pass rate are not *near* perfect. Principal Geager wears a soft exterior around parents, but again, do not be fooled... most, if not all teachers, wish he would retire and get out of the system. Otherwise, the teachers will continue operating in fear.

Please read reviews about Principal:

Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at manhattan village academy and I am astonished to find this website! everything said here is true and the principle bullies children! Geager has often held kids from class all day because the soles of their shoes weren't black!! whats more important? the bottom of a shoe no one will ever see or a lesson they may never get back! hes a bully and needs out!!

Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at manhattan village academy and I am astonished to find this website! everything said here is true and the principle bullies children! Geager has often held kids from class all day because the soles of their shoes weren't black!! whats more important? the bottom of a shoe no one will ever see or a lesson they may never get back! hes a bully and needs out!!