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Sunday, February 7, 2016

"School of No" Principal Marcella Sills is Fired After 3020-a Arbitration

Congratulations to New York Post reporter Sue Edelman, who published the first article about the crimes against kids at PS106 by the Principal, Marcella Sills, and got the ball rolling for Sills to be charged at 3020-a arbitration. Arbitrator David Reilly, a no-nonsense guy I have been in hearings with several times, fighting for my clients, did the right thing and fired Sills.

PS 106 Principal Marcella Sills' Bizarre Disregard For the Students in Her Building is Slammed By Investigators Who Recommend She Be Fired ASAP

New ‘School of No’ principal drawing ire of teachers

Media leads the way. I love it.

Thanks Sue!!!

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice

Marcella Sills

City finally fires ‘School of No’ principal

The hooky-playing ex-principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway has been fired for cheating 
city taxpayers as well as her students.

Decision of Arbitrator David Reilly

Marcella Sills, 50, got the ax on Jan. 22 when hearing officer David Reilly found her guilty of “extreme misconduct,” including excessive lateness, failing to report her absences while collecting full pay and benefits, and causing the city Department of Education “widespread negative publicity.”
Sills, who made $128,000 a year, was tardy at least 178 times between September 2012 and January 2013. Sills said she was late because she cared for her sick mother. But she never documented her absences and “knowingly received unwarranted compensation and thereby committed a theft of time,” Reilly found.
Sills was removed from the school in February 2014 and from the payroll in 2014 pending her administrative trial.
In January 2014, The Post dubbed PS 106 the “School of No” because it had no books for the Common Core curriculum, no gym or art classes, no nurse’s office and no special-ed teachers. Kids ushered into the auditorium saw “more movies than Siskel and Ebert,” whistleblowers said.
“Ms. Sills’ conduct was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unbecoming of her position,” said DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye.

My time at the ‘School of No’

Principal Marcella Sills (right) of PS 106 in Queens should be fired and banned from working for
the DOE, a scathing department report states.

Why was nothing done at PS 106? Because the city and union wouldn’t listen

Last week, after an investigation into her alleged habit of skipping school, the Department of Education finally moved to remove Principal Marcella Sills from PS 106 in the Rockaways.

But why was this “School of No” allowed to perpetuate atrocities for nine years?

Why did it take an exposé in The New York Post to not only unseat a bad principal, but get students much-needed books — and stop them from watching movies instead of getting gym or art classes?

As a teacher who worked there for many years, I can tell you that it wasn’t because the city wasn’t warned. The children of PS 106 were failed by administrators, government lawmakers and union officials — a host of top people who couldn’t be bothered to care.

When I started there in 2003, PS 106 was truly a secret treasure. It was a small school with a solid core, tucked away on the beach.

I was the special-education teacher; the work load was tremendous, but I loved it and took pride for moving children to higher levels simply by teaching.

Principal Arthur Strauss would meet and discuss programs and entrusted teachers with educational decisions made in the best interest of children. In 2004, PS 106 was a school of recognition, achieving English language arts and math scores of 3 and 4 (exceeds standards) in all the testing grades 3-5.

We were recognized as a School of Excellence in 2004. It was truly a marvelous accomplishment — the students loved to read and write! Those were the days.

After Strauss left, Marcella Sills became principal in 2005 — a product of the city’s “leadership academy.”

Deterioration was rapid. You were either a friend of Sills or an enemy, and if she didn’t like you, she’d rip you apart in reviews.

Sills opened state exam booklets earlier than allowed and asked teachers to discuss how to read a passage to help students better understand it, which was cheating. When told it was illegal, she had a fit.

Then, of course, there was what the investigation found last week — frequently showing up late for work, sometimes not showing up at all.

Retaliation was common. When a teacher signed her name to a letter sent to officials expressing her concerns about educational practices that are adversely affecting children in our school, she was reprimanded for more than one hour by two supervisors from the Department of Education. Teachers learned to remain anonymous.

Letters began to flood the district office, superintendent’s office, mayor’s office, chancellor’s office, UFT and the special commissioner of investigation just three months after Sills took the leadership position. But rather than addressing our concerns and dealing with the cause, the staff was reprimanded and scolded for not signing individual names. Now see why! Sills strategically targeted and harassed staff.

Meetings, letters, e-mails, reports to the teachers union . . . all proved to be futile. Every letter, every complaint reiterated her absence, lateness, inappropriate interaction with children, parents, staff, even falsification of reviews.

Sills was never held accountable.

What happened of course is that anyone who could left PS 106.

The transfer rate of staff members soared to 60%.

Then the students left. Parents transferred their children to other public schools and charter schools to escape what they saw as an institution that the city had given up on.

Enrollment declined from more than 600 students to just 250.

A year after Hurricane Sandy, Sills blamed the school’s troubles on the storm. But its problems started long before Sandy and stayed around long after.

To show just how clueless and uncaring the administration was — in December 2013, PS 106 received a glowing report. At the time, there was no mandated gym, no special-education teacher (I had left and wasn’t replaced), no books, no art and no extended-day services!

PS 106 received millions in extra school funding to help low-income kids. Where did the money go? It didn’t go to pay for teachers who left and weren’t replaced. It didn’t go to the payroll secretary Sills didn’t have so no one kept track of her absences.

It certainly didn’t go to help the children of Far Rockaway.

Thanks to The Post for finally getting results and Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the mayor’s office for ending this reign of abusive leadership.

But the question remains how the people who were supposed to care remained deaf for so long. Why do families and teachers flee public schools? They flee when they feel powerless. They flee because of what happened at PS 106.
Patricia Walsh, a graduate of Teachers College at Columbia University, taught for 27 years, and was a special education teacher at PS 106 from 2003 to 2009.