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Friday, August 21, 2020

Alonzo Yanes, Burned at School, Keeps His $60 Million Award While Teacher Anna Poole Gets a Raise From the NYC DOE

Alonzo Yanes after being set on fire
The picture above of burned student Alonzo Yanes says it all. A science teacher at his school, Beacon High School on Manhattan's West Side, did an experiment that she should never have done, and burned student Alonzo Yanes after her experiment went horribly wrong.
Anna Poole
There is more bad news that followed this event, as well as good news. The bad news is that the teacher who committed the misconduct, Anna Poole, was rewarded with a raise by the New York City Department of Education. She now is a teacher mentor at NYC DOE Headquarters, teaching other teachers how to teach chemistry. (This article is re-posted below as well). The good news is that Yanes gets to keep his $60 million award.

                                                                          Ruth Lacey

Principal Lacey testified "she made a terrible mistake" and cried on the stand, but was ousted from Beacon in August 2020, basically for this incident and her alleged "racist" policies.

‘Hypocritical’ Beacon principal squeezes rich parents while students rally against ‘privilege’

Some readers may say that I am a teacher advocate and therefore should support all teachers at all times.

I do not believe this. If I want to be believable in hearings or on my blog, (which I do),  I must dig into the facts of a story or case, and tell the reader those facts. If an educator is guilty of misconduct based upon a review of the facts, then I will say exactly that. I still argue for a punishment that is fair, based on the evidence, so I usually do not agree with a termination award and will fight to overturn any termination decision I think was not deserved.

In the case of Alonzo Yanes, I do believe that the NYC DOE should fire the teacher who caused such harm, Anna Poole. One of my reasons for feeling this way is that I know of so many cases where arbitrators have terminated good teachers for no reason or a low-grade accident or mistake that did not harm a child.

I just cannot accept the fact that Ms. Poole did such a stupid act and was rewarded, with her student suffering so much from his injuries.

Alonzo Yanes and his parents
More proof that the teacher disciplinary procedures and penalties must be changed and made more fair.

Betsy Combier

MAR 22, 2018 

City educators, parents, and students were sickened Thursday to hear an Upper West Side teacher found a pot of cash and a cushy job at the end of a rainbow experiment that burned two students.

Beacon High School teacher Anna Poole has landed $23,000 in raises since the 2014 accident that permanently disfigured one teen and prompted nearly $40 million in lawsuits.

She is now an instructional leader assigned to the Education Department headquarters and teaches city teachers how to perform science lessons.

New York City Parents Union founder Mona Davids was appalled.

"I think that's outrageous and ludicrous. It's actually insulting," said Davids. "But it's typical DOE. That's what they do, reward poor performance."

As an example, Davids cited former Bronx principal Santiago Taveras, who lost his job at DeWitt Clinton High School in a 2017 cheating scandal. Despite a probe that found he changed students' grades, Taveras landed in another high-paying city schools gig, as an educational administrator.

Poole, 35, was a rookie science teacher on Jan. 2, 2014, when a chemistry rainbow experiment went horribly wrong and caused a classroom explosion that injured two students.

"Oh my God, I set a kid on fire," Poole cried out, according to a Special Commissioner of Investigation report published five months after horrific blast.

But instead of firing Poole, Education Department officials gave her a new job as citywide instructional specialist, and a series of raises the agency said were contractually required. She currently makes a $79,484 a year — up from $56,048 on the day of the explosion.

City public school teacher and education activist Axia Rodriquez said Poole's plum gig shows the Education Department disciplinary system is upside-down.

"The DOE is helping this lady reboot her career because it was a tragic accident," said Rodriquez, who teaches English-language learners. "But when whistleblowers speak up, their careers are in tatters."

Queens teacher Bobson Wong said on Twitter that the city should put its brightest educators in positions to lead important professional development classes.

"I think this says a lot about the quality of professional development — who gets chosen to do it," Wong tweeted. "I wish teachers had more of an opportunity to run PD, but given how busy we are, this is difficult."

Beacon students were shocked that Poole is giving city educators lessons on how to lead science classes. The classroom blast she touched off four years ago melted the ear of one student, burned the forearms and hair of another, and left a third with PTSD.

So "maybe continuing to work with chemicals isn't a super responsible decision," said sophomore Henry Pearl, 16.

Poole didn't pick up her office phone when called for comment, and her coworkers at 52 Chambers St. said they were too spooked to comment on her story.

"Good luck," said one DOE staffer approached by a Daily News reporter outside Tweed Courthouse. "There's a lot of fear here."

Ben Chapman is an award-winning reporter who covers education for the New York Daily News. A graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Chapman has written more than 2,000 articles about New York City schools for the Daily News since joining the paper in 2009.

Alonzo Yanes at trial
photo: Steven Hirsch
By Priscilla DeGregory, NY POST August 10, 2020

The city lost its attempt to avoid paying the $60 million verdict that was awarded to a Beacon High School student who was badly burned in a since-banned chemistry experiment gone awry, a judge ruled Monday.

Alonzo Yanes was awarded the stunning sum by a jury on July 1, 2019, following a trial that detailed how Yanes, then 16, suffered horrific and disfiguring burns on Jan. 2, 2014, after his chemistry teacher, Anna Poole, conducted a “Rainbow Experiment” that erupted in a fireball.
The trial also laid out the harrowing physical and emotional recovery that the teen went through in the months and years following the incident.
“All of this excruciating physical and emotional trauma experienced by Mr. Yanes has essentially stopped his young life before it even began,” Manhattan Supreme Supreme Court Justice Alexander Tisch wrote in a decision upholding the jury’s verdict.
The city last August filed a motion seeking to toss out or renegotiate the hefty verdict claiming that Yanes wasn’t nearly as disfigured as other accident victims in New York cases who have received smaller payouts.
Tisch said the verdict — which awarded for past and future pain and suffering — is appropriate as “Mr. Yanes was subjected to literally being burned alive.”
Yanes, now 22, spent painful months recovering in hospitals including undergoing skin grafting to his face, neck, arms, and hands and losing his ears, according to trial testimony. He has disfiguring scars on his face and body and has lost the ability to sweat and feel in the burned areas, a doctor testified.
“Having miraculously survived being severely burned and the related trauma of the accident, Mr. Yanes became acquainted with the agonizing pain and suffering he would have to endure daily,” Tisch wrote of Yanes’ recovery.
And as for his future, the judge wrote, “While Mr. Yanes is supposed to be entering the prime of his life, he has been unable to establish a romantic relationship and has never even experienced his first kiss or had a single sexual encounter.”
Tisch said there is no sign that these emotional consequences “will somehow lessen over the remainder of his life.”
The physical and emotional impact of the accident will continue to affect Yanes’ job prospects, his future relationships, his self-confidence, his independence from his parents, and his friendships throughout his life, Tisch said.
he jury “awarded a sizable, but fair monetary award for the substantial injuries … that Mr. Yanes has endured and is statistically likely to continue to endure for an additional 54 years post-verdict,” the decision read referring to Yanes’ predicted life expectancy.
Yanes’ lawyer Ben Rubinowitz told The Post he and his clients are “very pleased” with the decision.
“This young child suffered horrific injuries through the negligence of the Board of Education and a teacher who failed to provide protection for the students,” Rubinowitz said. “Although the award offers some measure of damages I know that my client would return it in a heartbeat if he could have his health back.”
The DOE deferred comment to the city Law Department.
Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said, “This was a tragic incident and the experiment has been banned in our schools.
“While we respect the court’s ruling, we believe the award is not consistent with the awards that have been upheld by the courts in similar cases.”
Paolucci said the city is “reviewing the city’s legal options” when asked if there would be an appeal.

Jury's $60M Verdict in 'Agonizing' High School Student Burn
Case Upheld

As a chemistry teacher at Manhattan's Beacon High School "poured methanol from a gallon jug" into dishes containing nitrates, "a giant fireball erupted ... and engulfed" the student, and he burned for at least a minute, wrote the judge.