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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Stellar, Dedicated Teacher Eileen Ghastin Fights the Arbitrator's Decision To Suspend Her For Four Weeks After Almost Being Beaten Up in Her Class

Eileen Ghastin
Eileen Ghastin is everything you would want in a teacher. She is knowledgeable about her subject, knows how to teach it (English), and cares deeply about the learning and success of her students. So many students love her and respect her. See the letter from a former student:

From: N B
To: Jennifer Hogan <>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 00:02:32 +0000
Subject: RE: Eileen Ghastin
I just had a conversation with my mother and she gave me her permission to testify. If you'd like to confirm with her, her number is                . My address is                       . Ms.Ghastin is the best teacher I have ever come across within my entire academic career. Not only did she help me reach my full academic potential, she also is one of the most understanding teachers I know. After discussing with her, how I had trouble being organized because of the difficulty in my home life, she personally bought me an organizer in which i used the rest of the year. Going out of her way for me, i will never forget that kindness. I also witnessed it with my fellow students because she would personally invest her time into helping those who needed it most. She is a devoted, kind and caring teacher. Not only did we focus on the academic lessons in the classroom but enriching life lessons. Ms. Ghastin all around is a truly one of a kind teacher because i have never encountered someone as invested, dedicated and devoted to her career and her students, in whom she treated with respect as if they were her own children." 

And yet it took just one student and one bad principal to end everything.

Eileen's school, Flushing High School is a Renewal School, a place where students who did not get any of their other choices for High School, attend. It is a place where no one is safe, there are no consequences for anything anyone does, and discipline doesn't get in the way of ignoring anyone's misconduct.

At her 3020-a Student "D" testified:

"A. Overall, I would say I enjoyed my
20 experience. But it wasn't the best place to be.
21 Like, there were times I was kind of scared to walk
22 down the hallways. There were times where, like, I
23 would witness fights and drug deals going on. It
24 was, it was a really frightening environment....

I felt unsafe".

He testified that

" There are some teachers where you accidentally call
4 "mom". Like, we all have that one teacher where we
5 feel safe around them, where we feel the need that we
6 can express ourselves freely. Ms. Ghastin provided,
7 like, a really safe environment, a really free
8 environment, where I was able to just, like, talk--
9 like, it could be any--anything about the curriculum,
10 or basic life lessons in themselves. Like, for
11 example, we were doing Uncle Tom's Cabin, and we were
12 relating things to modern day racism. And we were
13 able to voice our opinions on as to how we felt about
14 the book, about, like, modern day experiences, about
15 everything. We didn't feel like we were restricted
16 in any way

He transferred out.

Principal Tyee Chin has been in the NYPOST recently, accused of fraudulently raising graduation rates. Flushing HS is a school dying for lack of good leadership and without any possibility of providing a safe environment for students.

But Eileen took on the challenges, and rose above them. She has been teaching for 19 years, starting at Flushing HS in 2011, and has earned a stellar rating every year, despite extremely insulting comments coming from the students at Flushing. Statements like
 "Suck my dick," was something frequently used by the students, and: "Shut the fuck up. What is wrong with you?....".

 "...there was another incident in another class where a girl threatened to bring in a gun to shoot me and to shoot up the building"

Eileen wrote up all the incidents and reported them. Nothing ever came of  that. But on May 16, 2016, Eileen's life changed forever. On that day, a student came in late, and was disrupting the class. He did not want to listen to her asking him to settle down. In fact, he starting verbally abusing her and calling her a "bitch". Eileen testified that:

"And at, at this point, he kind of like swatted at me. And unfortunately, I became very upset. I said, "Student "A"," I, I did yell.  I said, "Move fast. Move, now." And he just got very upset. You know, he is like, "Who the fuck are you talking to?" And then again I said, "Look," you know, I got upset.
I said, "You know that you cannot yes "fucking" to me. You just can't say "fucking" to a teacher. 
You are aware of that. Aren't you aware of that?" And he--that got him even more angry. So he kind of pushed away from his desk. And he says, "I will beat you with this." And he had a cast on his arm. 
As soon as I heard that, I said, "Oh my god, this is getting way out of control." I walked over to the phone to dial a dean....
The teen then “went berserk,” Ghastin said. “He jumped out of his chair, rushed toward me and raised his arm,” encased in a hard cast from elbow to hand.
“I’m going to beat the s–t out of you,” Ghastin quoted him as yelling. “I’m a boxer, so I can ­really f–k you up. "I am really going to do a lot of damage."

Eileen was frozen with fear that she was really going to be hurt. And then, she said, " I thought to myself, I have to say something quickly or else I am going to die. --you know. So, I realized, you know, that he is in a very--a blind rage. If I say something strong enough to him, he will stop.
I said, "If you beat me, I will kill you." 

This statement stopped him.

Eileen said, " Because he stopped. He was like, he kind of stopped, and paused, like, I don't know, like somehow I, I made him aware of what is going on. You know, he was just like stopped, turn around, started saying something about me being an old bitch. Grabbed his stuff, and then walked out."

Eileen apologized to the students still sitting in the room, and told them that it was time to move on, to prepare for the Regents and final exams. So that's what they did. Later, Eileen wrote a statement and the rest is history.

Eileen was charged with 3020-a charges, for verbal abuse,  failure to perform her duties by engaging in conduct unbecoming her position, misconduct, inappropriate comments, and conduct that rendered her unfit to perform her obligations to the service.  She was represented by NYSUT Attorney Jennifer Hogan. The Department was represented by Kareen Evans-McKay.

The DOE also came up with the Specification below, but did not serve it on Eileen, so it could not be used:

Dont you love it? The DOE HATES press coverage they do not control.

Below are excerpts from Arbitrator Williams' shocking opinion and punishment:

"On the instant facts. Respondent's tone and largely responsive comments and language on May 17, 2016, provoked and instigated an escalation of student agitation and conflict; directed extremely disrespectful behavior at a student that served to increase the student's own misguided bravado; all in front of a classroom of impressionable ninth grade students. During the incident, the exchanges of profanity were topped off with Respondent uttering a death threat to the student, "If you beat me, I will kill you."  The language exchanged fell squarely within the parameters of the definitions of prohibited conduct under the Chancellor's Regulations. 

The Respondent's language was belittling; embarrassing; substantially interfered with a student's ability to benefit in the class and education program; interfered with a student's mental and emotional wellbeing; and reasonably could cause a student to fear for their physical safety and could reasonably be expected to cause physical injury. The violation of Chancellors .Regulation A-421 was clearly established.

The proven conduct also evidenced Respondent's unprofessionalism, extremely poor judgment, lack of control, lack of restraint, impulsiveness, and unwillingness to accept the demands of her position. The verbal exchanges that happened were not only unnecessary but the circumstances at issue could have easily escalated into a physical confrontation had student CF not exited the room.
Simply put, Respondent could have mitigated the situation and avoided provocation by not engaging in a verbal power struggle with a child. Respondent's role as a pedagogue is to set a positive example. Respondent failed to heed the often-quoted sentiment of former First Lady Michelle Obama "When they go low, we go high." Teachers, of necessity, are expected to "take the high road" and not lower their standards in student interactions. ......

 Respondent is reminded that it is a privilege to be entrusted with educating students who attend DOE schools. Her privileged role as a teacher carries many dimensions including the modeling of appropriate behaviors to respond to stressful situations. The use of profanity in connection with the normal give and take between a teacher and students; the use of profanity by a teacher in making routine student requests; and the use of profanity in giving directives and feedback to students will not be tolerated. It is the sole responsibility of Respondent to control the use of her language and she failed on May 7, 2016."

In sum, I find the appropriate penalty in this matter to be a four-week suspension without pay penalty; two weeks for the use of profanity during an interaction with a student plus two weeks for the issuance of a verbal death threat to a student. Respondent's future is in her own hands and this is a Final Warning that additional deficiencies of a similar nature warrant termination from employment."  

This decision is so outrageous. Where is the respect and concern for Eileen? Immediately after Eileen received the decision of Arbitrator Richard Williams in her 3020-a, Eileen asked for assistance from ADVOCATZ in filing an Article 75 Appeal to vacate the four weeks' suspension she received as punishment for stopping an out of control boy from permanently destroying her health and possibly worse.

The Department's policy of charging teachers for student misconduct must stop. the DOE and the police work together on this, where students are allowed to do whatever they please because the DOE is afraid of a parent filing a lawsuit to defend their little angels. The police liaisons need the support of the principal to keep their jobs, so the mantra is, if someone comes in and wants to file a complaint at their school, don't take it.

If you touch a student at all in order to stop them, you will be charged with corporal punishment. If you say to the potential assailant "stop, you better not come any closer", you will be charged with verbal abuse. How? Because faster than a speeding bullet the student in the class will report the incident to a nearby adult. No matter who this person is - AP, safety agent, guidance counselor.

Chancellor's Regulation A-421 was the basis for the Specifications, or charges, against Eileen Ghastin. When you read A-421, you can see that everything described is against the teacher or employee. None of the actions that may have caused the employee to act in such a way as to be charged with corporal punishment is described. There is mention of the Discipline Code, but the actions of students remains up to your imagination. The DOE does this for a reason. They want to use the Regulations any way that they want, with the goal to get rid of the teacher and protect the student, no matter what they did. Thus, the DOE can, and does, make up actions of the educator and feelings of the student. They can, and do, make up some pretty wild stuff.

I remember a case a few years ago where the charge was that a teacher, while handing out a test to a student who usually fails  got a great grade,  briefly touched her shoulder to get her attention, then said, "Good job!"

The next thing that happened was the teacher was charged with sexual harassment, and standing above the student while handing out the test so that he could look down her blouse. The girl came in and cried, right on cue. She followed the script.

I'm not kidding. He won his case, however, basically because he is a great guy, but also because the OSI investigator came in and testified that touching someone on the shoulder is not corporal punishment.

The DOE attorneys have a heavy burden at 3020-a: they must make a big enough wad of filth and false evidence so that when it is thrown against a wall, like at the 3020-a hearing, something sticks.

Public Schools in New York City are in chaos right now due to the unfortunate DOE policy of  keeping "Hands Off The Kids!" This policy means that if a child or young adult is coming to you to beat you up, you cannot do anything. You must allow yourself to be beaten up.

We are pulling all stops from this Appeal, in order to fight the random and arbitrary inability of the DOE to control gangs and bad kids in our NYC public schools. This is a detriment to all, and must be changed.

Arbitrator Williams made an error here, an error which must be corrected with all charges removed from Eileen's file and any monetary losses should be reimbursed plus a monetary award to repair Eileen's damaged soul. She needs to be back in a classroom. Now.

It is indeed shocking to me how our public administrators put money and stupid policies over educational excellence. This must stop.

Teacher Quit Letters Point To A Broken System

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Vassilev v NYC DOE (NY Supreme Court, 2013): Petitioner Denied a Complete Chancellor's Committee Report

It seems strange to me that the NYC DOE does not give Chancellor Committee Reports to educators appealing their end-of-year ratings, in a timely fashion.

In the Vassilev case, Judge Cynthia Kern wrote that they must make a decision  but they dont have to give it to Mr. Vassilev:

" In the present case, petitioner is entitled to the relief he seeks as the Chancellor's Committee's issuance of a final determination is a ministerial, not a discretionary, act. The Committee's hearing was held in March 2012 yet no final determination has been made thus far. This court is not advising the Committee on what decision to render but only that the Committee must issue a final determination regarding petitioner's "U-rating" for the 2009-2010 school year as expeditiously as possible.
Finally, petitioner's request for a complete and unredacted copy of the Chancellor's Committee's report is denied. In an Article 78 proceeding, "a petitioner is not entitled to discovery as of right." 

Betsy Combier

2013 NY Slip Op 31788(U)
In the Matter of the Application of ANTON VASSILEV, Petitioner,
For an Order Pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules,
CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DENNIS WALCOTT, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Respondents.
Docket No. 100526/13, Sequence No. 001.
Supreme Court, New York County.
August 2, 2013.
Filed August 6, 2013.
It is ordered that this motion is decided in accordance with the annexed decision.
Petitioner Anton Vassilev brings the instant petition pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR") (1) challenging respondent the New York City Department of Education's (the "DOE") determination sustaining (a) his Unsatisfactory end-of-year rating ("U-rating") for the 2009-2010 school year and the denial of completion of probation; and (b) the discontinuance of employment and termination as a teacher for the DOE; (2) seeking an Order mandating that respondents reinstate petitioner nunc pro tunc to his employment as of September 9, 2010 with all backpay and other lost benefits and emoluments of employment, including granting him tenure; (3) ordering respondents to immediately turn over to petitioner a complete and unredacted copy of the Chancellor's Committee report pursuant to CPLR § 408; and (4) compelling respondents to issue a final determination regarding his "U-rating." Respondents cross-move for an Order pursuant to CPLR § 7804(f) and 3211(a)(5) dismissing the petition on the grounds that it is time-barred and that petitioner has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and seeking costs, fees and disbursements. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is granted in part and denied in part.
The relevant facts are as follows. Petitioner was appointed as a probationary mathematics teacher with the DOE in or around September 2006 at Junior High School 291 ("J.H.S. 291") in Brooklyn, New York. For the 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years, petitioner received "Satisfactory" ratings on his end-of-year evaluations. Petitioner alleges that he was tenured by estoppel at the conclusion of the 2008-2009 school year as he had received three consecutive "Satisfactory" end-of-year ratings. During the 2009-2010 school year, petitioner alleges that his class lessons were observed three times by Assistant Principal Noel Moses ("AP Moses") and that all of those observations were rated satisfactory but that Principal Sean Walsh ("Principal Walsh") rated petitioner's overall performance for the 2009-2010 school year "Unsatisfactory."
Due to the "U-rating," by letter dated July 9, 2010, petitioner received notice that his probationary employment was terminated and petitioner was denied tenure allegedly pursuant to an Extension of Probation Agreement (the "Agreement"), dated December 7, 2009. The Agreement states that petitioner "agrees to serve, an additional one year probationary period commencing December 7, 2009, and concluding on December 8, 2010 in the tenure area of 762B Mathematics" and that "[n]o later than December 8, 2010, [petitioner] shall either be granted tenure upon satisfactory completion of the additional probationary period or denied completion of probation and/or discontinued prior thereto." Further, the Agreement states that "[t]he parties agree that the decision to either grant tenure to [petitioner] at a date no later than December 8, 2010, shall be based upon an evaluation of [petitioner's] probationary service during the additional one year of probationary service herein granted and also upon an evaluation of [petitioner's] probationary service rendered prior to December 7, 2009." Finally, the Agreement states that "[petitioner] waives any possible rights, claims or causes of action for tenure as a Mathematics Teacher arising on or prior to December 7, 2009."
Petitioner appealed both his "U-rating" and termination to the DOE's Office of Appeals and Reviews ("OAR") and a Chancellor's Committee hearing was held on March 26, 2012. Principal Walsh died before the hearing so petitioner was unable to question him. At the hearing, Debra Poulos, petitioner's union representative, asserted that there was no evidence to support petitioner's "U-rating" and that petitioner should be tenured by estoppel as the December 7, 2009 Agreement was never signed by petitioner and that the signature on the Agreement was forged. Ms. Poulos asserted that when confronted with the Agreement, she contacted the DOE's Special Commissioner of Investigations ("SCI") to investigate whether the Agreement was a forgery but that SCI closed the investigation, allegedly due to Principal Walsh's death. At the hearing, the Chancellor's representative noted certain irregularities on several documents and stated that he was not "one hundred percent convinced that probationer did sign [the Agreement]." Petitioner has not yet received a final determination affirming or overturning his denial of completion of probation and his "U-rating." Petitioner commenced the instant Article 78 proceeding seeking, inter alia, to challenge the "U-rating" he received for the 2009-2010 school year and his termination.
As an initial matter, the City of New York must be dismissed from this case as it is an improper party. It is well-settled that "[the DOE] is not a department of the [C]ity of New York" but rather a separate and distinct entity. Ragsdale v. Board of Education, 282 N.Y.323 (1940), citing Divisich v. Marshall, 281 N.Y. 170 (1939)see also Perez v. City of New York, 41 A.D.3d 378 (1st Dept 2007) (holding that "the City and the [DOE] remain separate legal entities.") As the City of New York did not make the determination petitioner seeks to challenge and is a separate entity from the DOE, it must be dismissed.
Further, that portion of the petition which seeks to challenge petitioner's termination is denied on the ground that it is time-barred. There is a four month statute of limitations to bring an Article 78 proceeding. See CPLR § 217. "The Statute of Limitations runs from the date the administrative determination becomes final and binding." Matter of De Milio v. Borghard, 55 N.Y.2d 216, 219 (1982). "A petition to challenge the termination of probationary employment on substantive grounds must be brought within four months of the effective date of termination" as "[t]he time to commence such a proceeding is not extended by the ... pursuit of administrative remedies." Kahn v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 79 A.D.3d 521 (1st Dept 2010), aff'd 18 N.Y.3d 457 (2012). In the instant action, petitioner was notified of his termination on July 9, 2010. However, petitioner did not commence the instant Article 78 proceeding challenging such termination until March 29, 2013, more than two and a half years later. The fact that petitioner appealed his termination to the OAR and had it reviewed by the Chancellor's Committee is without merit as such review did not toll petitioner's time to commence this proceeding. Additionally, petitioner's assertion that he was entitled to a hearing pursuant to Education Law § 3020-a is also time-barred. If petitioner desired a § 3020-a hearing, it was necessary for petitioner to demand one and await a refusal before commencing an Article 78 proceeding. However, petitioner may not extend indefinitely the statute of limitations period by waiting to make such a demand. See Austin v. Bd. of Higher Educ., 5 N.Y.2d 430 (1959).
Additionally, that portion of the petition which seeks to challenge petitioner's "U-rating" for the 2009-2010 school year is dismissed on the ground that petitioner has failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Appeals of unsatisfactory ratings are governed by section 4.3.1 of the DOE by-laws, which specify that a "U-rating" is not final until the Chancellor renders a decision. See Kahn v. Dep't of Educ., 18 N.Y.3d 457 (2012)see also Bonilla v. Bd. of Educ., 285 A.D.2d 548 (2d Dept 2011). In the instant proceeding, petitioner has yet to receive a final determination from the Chancellor regarding whether his "U-rating" for the 2009-2010 school year will be sustained. As no final determination has been made, petitioner's challenge to the "U-rating" is premature and must be dismissed. However, to the extent petitioner seeks relief in the nature of mandamus to compel respondent to issue a final determination regarding the "U-rating" so that petitioner may commence an Article 78 proceeding challenging such determination, such request is granted. Under New York law, "mandamus lies to compel the performance of a purely ministerial act where there is a clear legal right to the relief sought." Matter of Legal Aid Society of Sullivan County v. Scheinman, 53 N.Y.2d 12, 16 (1981). Mandamus does not lie to compel acts that "are entrusted to the respondent official's discretion. Mandamus is available only where the petitioner's right to performance is so clear as to admit of no doubt or controversy." Coastal Oil New York Inc. v. Newton, 231 A.D.2d 55, 57 (1st Dep't 1997). In the present case, petitioner is entitled to the relief he seeks as the Chancellor's Committee's issuance of a final determination is a ministerial, not a discretionary, act. The Committee's hearing was held in March 2012 yet no final determination has been made thus far. This court is not advising the Committee on what decision to render but only that the Committee must issue a final determination regarding petitioner's "U-rating" for the 2009-2010 school year as expeditiously as possible.
Finally, petitioner's request for a complete and unredacted copy of the Chancellor's Committee's report is denied. In an Article 78 proceeding, "a petitioner is not entitled to discovery as of right." Town of Pleasant Valley v. New York State Bd. of Real Prop. Servs., 253 A.D.2d 8, 15-16 (2d Dept 1999). In a special proceeding, discovery will be permitted only where a petitioner first "demonstrate[s] that there is need for such relief." Id. at 15. In the instant action, petitioner seeks discovery in the form of the Chancellor's Committee's report because "such reports have been routinely turned over or compelled to be turned over to teachers in similar proceedings." However, petitioner fails to demonstrate his individualized need for the report, which is necessary to obtain discovery. See Town of Pleasant Valley,253 A.D.2d at 15. Further, the Chancellor's Committee's report is a predecisional report that is advisory, not binding, in nature.
To the extent respondents seek costs, fees and disbursements in this action, such request is denied as respondents have failed to provide a basis for such relief.
Accordingly, the petition is granted only to the extent that respondents are hereby compelled to issue a final determination regarding petitioner's "U-rating" for the 2009-2010 school year as expeditiously as possible. If respondents are unable to issue a final determination within four months of the date of this decision, the parties shall appear for a Compliance Conference on December 10, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at 60 Centre Street, Room 432. This constitutes the decision and order of the court.

Tyee Chin, Principal of Flushing High School Tries To Fraudulently Boost Graduation Rates. He failed To Get Away With This.

Principal Tyee Chin

Principal allegedly faked geometry classes for students who failed algebra exam​

This principal didn’t do his math.

Tyee Chin of Flushing HS — a cornerstone of Mayor de Blasio’s limping Renewal Schools program — demands that teachers aim to pass 75 percent of their students, or else.

But his crackdown backfired. Hundreds of kids who passed their algebra classes flunked the Regents algebra exam required for graduation.

So Chin and a math assistant principal, in a “blatant disregard” of city and state rules, ordered that 254 students who had been bumped up into geometry classes be taught the algebra they didn’t learn the prior year, teachers alleged.

“They gave us these classes called geometry, but we were told to teach algebra,” an outraged teacher told The Post.

Students who did not learn geometry received geometry credits on their transcripts, staffers said.

“We believe that this is a deliberate attempt . . . to fraudulently boost graduation rates and meet the Renewal school benchmarks,” five teachers wrote last December to Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon. A copy was sent to Chancellor Carmen FariƱa.

Condon referred the complaint to the Department of Education. A DOE investigation of Chin for “academic misconduct” is ongoing, officials said Friday. Chin declined to comment.

Flushing students are struggling. Of 586 who took the Regents algebra exam in January, only 31 percent passed, requiring 404 kids to try again.

While five math teachers taught algebra in classes labeled geometry, Chin and the assistant principal for math also ignored their duties to visit the classes to evaluate the instruction.

“They covered themselves. They never came to observe us,” a staffer said.

Chin, 41, who has led Flushing HS for two years, was recently reprimanded for violating a “code of ethics” for the DOE’s teacher surveys, officials revealed.

Last March, he ​warned his Flushing staff against making negative comments in the survey — which is meant to help rate the school — lest enrollment drop and teachers lose jobs. That fate​, Chin claimed,​ befell Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Harlem​, another Renewal school​, when he was principal.

Now Chin wants to jump ship. This month, he applied to become principal of Townsend Harris HS — one of the city’s highest-performing schools — where student reporters spotted him emerging from an interview.

The Flushing fraud investigation and survey tampering came out after The Post reported that high-profile Renewal principal Santiago Taveras was stripped of his post at DeWitt Clinton HS in The Bronx after Condon found he improperly fixed grades.

Mayor de Blasio is pouring an extra $754 million into the Renewal program, which started
in 2014 with 96 schools, but after closings will continue with 78 in the fall.

Flushing HS Principal Investigated By DOE

Staff Writer
The city is investigating the principal of Flushing High School following allegations that he instructed teachers to teach algebra to their students, rather than geometry, to boost graduation rates while they were taking classes that earned them geometry credits.
The city Department of Education confirmed that Principal Tyee Chin is currently under investigation by the Office of Special Investigation following a referral in December. Chin declined to comment until the investigation was complete.
A report in the New York Post outlines the allegations at the school, which is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Renewal Schools Program” that aims to improve failing schools. That program has received scrutiny regarding efficacy and consequences.
According to the Post, Chin demanded that teachers aim to pass 75 percent of their students. But hundreds of kids who passed their algebra classes failed their Regents algebra exam—a requirement for graduation. According to the Post, five teachers alleged in a letter to the DOE’s Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon that Chin ordered that 254 students who had advanced to geometry be taught algebra during their assigned geometry classes.
“We believe that this is a deliberate attempt…to fraudulently boost graduation rates and meet the Renewal School benchmarks,” the teachers wrote in the letter.
“Ensuring academic integrity at our schools is critical and we investigate any allegation of academic misconduct,” said DOE spokesman Michael Aciman.
Chin’s investigation reverberated in another Flushing school this week—Townsend Harris High School, where students, parents and teachers have waged an ongoing battle to remove its interim-acting principal, Rosemarie Jahoda.
While principal candidates are typically kept confidential during the C-30 principal-selection process, student reporters at Townsend Harris’ school newspaper, The Classic, identified Chin as one of four candidates selected from a pool of 38 to receive interviews for the position. Chin is now the second of those four to be under investigation by the DOE at some point during the school’s principal-selection process. Jahoda, per a Classic report, was previously under investigation for allegations that she denied students mandated services during her tenure as assistant principal of mathematics at the Bronx High School of Science.
That particular investigation into Jahoda, however, has been closed, with no charges, said Aciman, who would not clarify whether any other investigations were being conducted on candidates for Townsend Harris, other than Chin.
There is no specific regulation precluding an applicant under investigation from being in the principal candidate pool, which the superintendent selects from a larger applicant pool for “Level 1” interviews with members of the school community. The superintendent makes the final appointment based on Level 1 recommendations. Before that final appointment, candidates’ names must be “submitted to the Office of Special Investigations, the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation and the Office of Personnel Investigations for clearance,” per DOE rules.
Franco Scardino, a social studies teacher and United Federation of Teachers representative at Townsend Harris, serves on the Level 1 Committee. He could not speak about Chin or Jahoda directly, since Level 1 members are bound by confidentiality. But he shared general concerns about the process and argued that the DOE does not disclose investigations unless inquiries are made about specific allegations.
“It would seem to me that the system could have a mechanism where it can be reported to the superintendent that an investigation is open and ongoing,” he said. “You don’t have to reveal the nature of the investigation, but I think as soon as we know that being investigated ultimately disqualifies you from being appointed, why even consider someone who you may not be able to appoint?”
Elaine Lindsey, Townsend Harris’ superintendent, did not respond to a request for comment.