A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Inside a Queens elementary school, teachers and staff have converted a recreation area into the "Cubs Boutique” — a free store where parents and kids can find everything from clothing and food, to household items.
The idea was born of necessity at P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong in Corona, which saw a dramatic influx in the number of students living in temporary housing this school year, largely driven by the arrival of families seeking asylum in the United States.
The school serves about 1,500 students and roughly 400 of them live in temporary housing such as city shelters and hotels, said Principal Justine Lucas.
Just within this academic year, the school enrolled nearly 100 new students who were living in temporary housing, more than any other school in the city, according to data collected by project Open Arms, an interagency effort to connect children of asylum seekers to public schools.
Early in the school year, teachers began noticing immense need from their new community members. They observed multiple siblings sharing one winter jacket, a mother who was using a shopping cart as a stroller, and children wearing sandals to school in frigid temperatures.
They’d been addressing little emergencies like these with a piecemeal approach, but by late September, they had another idea: to create a store where "parents have dignity and feel really proud to come in and select items,” Lucas said.
Teachers and staff man the store after school and during their free periods, sorting through donated goods.
“Coming from immigrant parents myself, I actually know the struggles that these families can go through,” said bilingual speech therapist Michelle Escobar, who said it’s been a rewarding experience to volunteer at the store.
The boutique is just one way teachers and staff aim to meet the needs of the community. They also keep the school open for four hours on Saturdays for a special literacy program and offer classes to parents on mindfulness, yoga and how to better help their kids with work they might take home.
Rachel Pauta, a reading specialist, said P.S. 143 has an important role to fill as a family’s first experience of school: “We have to make it memorable. We have to make it meaningful,” she said. “We have to make it helpful.”
Lucas said the effort has had a significant impact: “It's really a beautiful thing to see what this labor of love accomplishes."
Former MS 80 Principal Emmanuel Polanco was a favored son. He has been able to do whatever he could dream up to make money without a peep from the NYC DOE. He was removed from his position on November 2, 2022. Yesterday in the NY POST we found out that his wife Sterling Baez (pictured above) helped him collect rent from teachers recruited from the Dominican Republic. See the article below.
Does anyone believe that the VIPs at the New York City Department of Education did not know this was going on? Of course not.
The NYC DOE turns their collective backs on administrators who do something wrong until someone exposes what is going on.
By Georgia Worrell and Susan Edelman, NY POST, November 19, 2022
The wife of a Bronx principal collects rent money from teachers recruited from the Dominican Republic and forced to share a co-op apparently owned by the principal’s mother.
The city Department of Education announced with great fanfare in September that it had hired 25 bilingual Dominican teachers to work with Spanish-speaking students. But the program is now embroiled in accusations that the foreigners have been controlled and intimidated by a group of DOE administrators profiting as their landlord.
In addition to a Bronx duplex where 11 Dominican teachers were housed by ADASA, the Association of Dominican-American Supervisors and Administrators, three others were put into a three-bedroom co-op — each charged $1,350 to $1,400 a month, plus security deposits, teachers said.
Emmanuel Polanco, 39, the first vice president of ADASA and MS 80 principal — removed this month pending an investigation into the program — runs the rental with his wife, Sterling Báez, 32, a DOE elementary teacher in the Bronx.
The couple hold keys to the teachers’ rooms and mailbox, the teachers said. They also set rules: “We cannot receive visitors, Ms. Polanco told us.”
Desperate attempts by the teachers to save money were rejected: “We wanted to move into the same bedroom [and split the rent], but they said ‘No you cannot. You have to live individually.’”
The three-bedroom apartment in a 67-unit co-op building at 2866 Marion Ave. was purchased for $155,000 in 2006 by Juana Polanco-Abreu, 61, who is listed in records as the principal’s mother.
Polanco-Abreu received a $10,000 loan from the city’s Housing, Preservation and Development department under a program to help low- and middle-income people buy their first homes, agency officials said in response to an inquiry.
One of the Dominican teachers in the Marion Avenue co-op, Rosa Minier, said she was required to rent a room there after being told that her husband and three children, ages 12, 7 and 5, could not join her in New York for at least a year.
“I cry every night,” she said of missing her kids.
But Minier enjoys teaching at the International School for Liberal Arts: “I love my job.”
The three women share a kitchen, bathroom and living room — which last week had just an old, dismantled fish tank in it.
“I pay my rent to Polanco’s wife,” one said, showing a screenshot of a $1,012 payment on a digital banking app to “Esterlin Adasa” with a phone number that records show belongs to Báez.
Báez, who posts sexy photos of herself on Facebook, is a teacher at PS 595 The Colibrí Community School in the Bronx.
Báez did not reply to an email asking about her role. The city Department of Education and Polanco did not respond to requests for comment.
On Friday, District 10 Superintendent Maribel Torres-Hulla sent a letter to the MS 80 community announcing that Kenyatta Williams, an assistant principal, will take over as Acting Principal. She did not mention Polanco, who was “reassigned” on Nov. 2.
The Dominican teacher program is now under investigation by city and federal authorities.
Since The Post and CBS first reported complaints of exploitation and intimidation of the Dominican teachers last week, more have emerged.
“I have continued to receive allegations even after the investigation was initiated,” Bronx state Sen. Luis Sepúlveda said Friday. He would not discuss the allegations, saying he referred them to the DOE.
ADASA put 11 teachers in a cramped two-family house on Baychester Avenue in the Bronx, charging 10 of them $1,450 a month each, and one $1,300 a month, The Post has reported. The total $15,800 in collected revenue would net a $8,900 profit over the $6,900 ADASA pays to lease the duplex
The teachers were warned, several said, that they could lose their NYC jobs and J-1 visas if they objected to the terms.
“You can join the other teachers, or you can voluntarily resign,” Ramon Alexander Suriel said he was told in an Oct. 14 “ultimatum meeting” at MS 80 with Polanco and an MS 80 staffer.
Suriel, 50, who brought his wife and two kids, ages 2 and 4, to share the New York experience, said he was told to send his family back without him.
He quit, and returned to the DR — after incurring some $3,500 in expenses due to ADASA botching a set of airline tickets to NYC, forcing him to pay again for a second flight and overnight stays.
“I want my money back,” he fumed, adding that ADASA has failed to refund his lost money. “No one is accountable for it.”
The NYC teachers’ union said it will look into legal aid for Suriel and other Dominican teachers, said UFT spokeswoman Alison Gendar.
Last week, the other Dominican teachers renting rooms received a letter in defense of Polanco and ADASA from Marianne Mason, executive director of the Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education, a New York-based group that sponsors the visas.
She blamed the teachers’ complaints on “culture shock” and “quite a few points of misunderstanding.”
Many things amaze me about the NYC Department of Education, even after having my four children in public schools, after researching all the rules, regulations, and laws that have anything to do with teachers' discipline, parents' complaints, and/or the educational programs of the children in the system, and investigating, on my own, all the backstories that I hear about on a daily basis.
One of the many outrageous policies of the NYCDOE that continues to baffle me is the immoral, illegal, or inappropriate actions of principals who are never stopped or held accountable for their words or actions.
Really? Are we supposed to believe that Mr. Miley could simply change his name and get to work at a different school? Really?
Anissa Reilly, GANG GIRL video
And then there is Dr. Anissa Reilly and her video "Gang Girl". This video is violent and disgusting, trust me. I bought it for $5.00 because I was hired by a teacher to do her 3020-a arbitration after she was accused of threatening Reilly at a meeting - which FORTUNATELY the teacher secretly taped. On the audio tape, which was given to the arbitrator when Reilly came in to testify, everyone could hear Reilly threaten the teacher, not the other way around. We gave the arbitrator a copy of "Gang Girl" and the certified transcript of the secretly taped meeting as evidence. We won that case, and the teacher was not terminated.
Reilly has had a checkered career, but nothing has stopped her nor has she been removed from her position. Here are a few of the Reilly stories you can read online:
Video #45 Principal Takeover- Dr. Anissa Reilly. Revolutionary School Culture OSG describes itself as " where education meets culture. Season One of Revolutionary School Culture highlights Five extraordinary school leaders in New York City that are doing phenomenal work saving and transforming the lives in their schools!"
We believe in second chances, but new beginnings should be given to everyone who works for the NYC DOE, not just favored Principals. That's disparate treatment.
Teachers are brought to Part 83 hearings for much less. For example, a beautiful, talented and tenured teacher was accused - falsely - by a jealous co-worker of holding the hand of a 19-year-old student in her class as they walked towards a movie theater on 42nd street. She was reassigned, found guilty of having a "relationship" with her student even though there were no telephone calls, texts, or social media found by SCI, and her NYSUT attorney did a terrible job defending her (my opinion, after reading every word of the transcripts) to the point that the attorney, Elizabeth Schuster, told the teacher she was going to be terminated and should resign, but NYSUT would not help her appeal:
In my opinion, Attorney Schuster knew that she put forth a terrible defense, and did not want the teacher to Appeal her termination so that a Court could review what happened. I can say unequivocally that the teacher is innocent of the charge. A bad defense caused her firing. The teacher resigned, scared and with a Problem Code on her fingerprints. No one told her about this code until she called me in 2022 to ask for my help after she received a Notice of a Part 83 against her for "Immoral character" (the charge= holding the hand of a student and leaving him emotionally scarred for life). Her State license would be revoked, all due to her having been falsely accused of holding a boy's hand on 42nd Street. Both parties, this teacher and the boy himself, testified that this was false. The arbitrator did not care. I was not part of the hearing, but I read the transcripts.
I wrote a Motion To Dismiss/Withdraw the Part 83. The Arbitrator, Anne Reynolds Copps said,
"I do not have the authority to withdraw or otherwise terminate these proceedings. I must hold the hearing as directed by the commissioner.....There will be no arguments entertained at the hearing concerning these motions."
BY MARCIA KRAMER, NOVEMBER 11, 2022 / 6:24 PM / CBS NEW YORK
NEW YORK - A landmark program to bring teachers here from the Dominican Republic to teach bilingual education is being probed by city and federal investigators amid allegations some were subjected to a shakedown scheme and threatened with loss of their visas if they didn't pay up.
As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reports, MS 80 in the Bronx is a school in turmoil. CBS2 has learned that its principal, Emmanuel Polanco, has been reassigned by Schools Chancellor David Banks as city and federal investigators sift through a sea of disturbing allegations that several teachers brought here from the Dominican Republic were reportedly forced by the principal to pay shakedown rent payments or have their visas yanked.
"I was floored by what I heard," said St. Senator Luis Sepulveda. "I was floored. I was disturbed... allegations of this kind being made, it's almost a painful experience because the program was designed to change the lives of kids here, and the lives of the teachers."
Sepulveda is talking about a first-of-its-kind program embarked on by the Department of Education this fall that brought 25 teachers from the Dominican Republic to teach bilingual education in city schools. Ten were assigned to MS 80.
It's an important program. Last year more than 22% of city students spoke Spanish as their first language. Nearly 14% were learning English as a second language.
Sources tell CBS2 the probe started when Sepulveda's office was contacted last month by one of the teachers assigned to MS 80, charging that she was being forced by Polanco to pay about $1,800 to rent a single room, or lose her visa.
Sepulveda went to the Department of Education, which took immediate action.
Sources tell CBS2:
The DOE has obtained emails in which the principal verbally abused one or more of the teachers
On Oct. 29, Polanco reportedly held a meeting with many of the teachers, telling them not to cooperate with the probe
One of the teachers went back to the Dominican Republic because of the threats
A spokesman for Banks, who heralded the program when it was first announced, insisted "we will do whatever we can to protect and defend our staff from mistreatment related to their employment."
"If the allegations are true, they create problems for people who came here. These people came here from the Dominican Republic, looking for a great opportunity for themselves and their families. They left families. They left their jobs," Sepulveda said. "They should not be subjected to this."
Polanco did not return a request for comment. Neither did the organization that brought the teachers here.
The Department of Education has hired pro-bono immigration lawyers for each of the teachers. The agency insists it will continue to recruit bilingual teachers from abroad.
Bilingual teachers brought from the Dominican Republic to work in New York City public schools have been treated like indentured servants by educators acting as their slumlords, The Post has learned.
Bronx principal Emmanuel Polanco and a group of fellow Department of Education administrators have put nearly a dozen teachers recruited from the DR in an apparently illegal boarding house in The Bronx — and charge the instructors $1,450 each month for the privilege, multiple sources say.
Polanco and his associates threaten to say “adios” to anyone who doesn’t go along, several teachers told The Post.
“If you leave, you might get in trouble,” teacher Rafael De Paula, 39, said the recruits were warned. “You can leave, but if you go, you go back to the Dominican Republic.”
Several teachers who balked at the terms or insisted on finding their own housing — including one who wanted to live with his brother in NYC – were terminated and sent packing, their colleagues said. Others fear they may lose their J-1 visas, which allow foreigners to work or study in the US if they disobey.
“It’s a big embarrassment,” said a DOE insider informed of the lucrative scheme. “It also has the potential to damage the relationship between New York City and the DR if they don’t do right by these teachers.”
Since most of the newcomers lost their jobs in the DR when they joined the DOE program, they can’t afford to be expelled because they support families left behind.
“Right now, if I went back to the Dominican Republic, the only thing that I would find there, other than my family, is financial problems,” said Neylin Puello, 31, who teaches aviation at JHS 80 along with other recruits — where Polanco is their boss.
Under city rules, a financial relationship between a superior and subordinate, including the leasing of property, is prohibited.
Polanco, 39, was quietly ousted from the Norwood middle school and “reassigned pending resolution of a personal matter,” District 10 Superintendent Maribel Torres-Hulla said in a Nov. 2 email to families.
The Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools said it is “aware of, and looking into,” the matter.
The rentals are run by Polanco and a group of DOE administrators, the Association of Dominican-American Supervisors and Administrators, known as ADASA NY.
“There is no organization in our public schools that means more to me than ADASA,” Chancellor David Banks gushed at a September 15 press conference announcing the recruitment of 25 teachers to help with the influx of Spanish-speaking migrants. Echoing Mayor Adams’ mantra, he added, “ADASA gets stuff done.”
But a Post investigation found ADASA could be stuffing its pockets.
Ying Qing Li of Fox River Grove, Ill., bought the duplex in July for $810,000 as an investment, she said. Her agent, Elsa Ni, said the house was leased to ADASA, which pays $6,900 a month for both units. Ni understood the building would house teachers from the DR but said she had no idea how many would move in.
ADASA charges 10 teachers $1,450 a month, and one $1,300, each for single rooms, the teachers said. The $15,800 in rent collected would net a monthly profit of $8,900. Another Bronx building run by ADASA houses eight teachers, and a third is rented by three teachers, sources said.
Puello said he is charged $1,300 a month, not $1,450 like the others because his room is the smallest, furnished only with a full-sized bed, a dresser, and a wall-mounted TV.
Four male teachers occupy the third floor of the building, sharing a kitchen and full bathroom. Seven female teachers rent rooms on the first floor and second floors. They also share a kitchen and bathroom, the tenants said.
Each rented room has door locks, they said. Housing lawyers and the city Department of Buildings said that would constitute a single-room occupancy, or SRO, which is illegal in NYC — and possibly dangerous in an emergency — unless previously approved. The building has no record of preexisting SRO units, said DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky, adding that officials would inspect the premises and possibly issue a vacate order.
The Dominican teachers said they get roughly $1,800 after taxes and other deductions in twice-monthly DOE paychecks. They are paid as substitutes — roughly $199.27 per day — pending NY state certification. Long-term subs may earn slightly more and get some sick or vacation days.
Several teachers who spoke to the Post fumed at the rental cost. “We know we can get it cheaper somewhere else,” Puello said. “I have to support myself and my family at home. I’m working for rent.”
The teachers were first assured they could bring their families, but “at the last minute,” were told to come alone for the first year or so. Puello said. Missing his five-year-old daughter’s birthday this month “was the hardest thing ever.”
DOE officials did not respond to a request for comment. Socorro Diaz, the director of English-language instruction in the Bronx and ADASA president, also did not reply.
A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s office said the “charitable organization” has failed to register or file the required financial records. The agency wrote to ADASA last week, asking it to comply.
Polanco refused to speak with a reporter.
Craig DiFolco, a spokesman for the principals’ union, CSA, had no comment on the rentals, but said of Polanco, “Our union will vigorously enforce his due process rights as well as defend him against any false or unsubstantiated allegations.”
Students at Junior High School 80 in the Bronx call him Principal Polanco, but the bikini-clad babes in his Internet rap videos call him "El Siki."
Emmanuel Polanco, 30, is one of the youngest school leaders in the city, but angry parents say his on-screen antics show he's a terrible role model.
"Someone has to hold this guy accountable," said Cecilia Donovan, whose daughter Ciara, 12, is a seventh-grader at the school. "It's ridiculous what he's doing there."
Videos obtained by the Daily News show the principal cavorting with young hotties and partying at posh clubs with bottles of champagne as "El Siki."
In a Spanish-language music video for a song called "El Metele," Polanco visits a club where he orders up champagne, gyrates on the dance floor and takes a busty blond babe home to bed.
"Come here, press against me. I'm giving up control, you go crazy," he raps in Spanish. "Don't stop, more, let's make love."
Though it's not clear when Polanco made the videos, parents said many students at JHS 80 have seen "El Metele" and kids sometimes chant "El Siki" when Polanco walks down the halls.
Polanco, who earns $127,115 and has worked in the public schools since 2003, did not respond to requests for comment. He discussed his musical ambitions in an undated video on the website CalienteHitzMix.com.
"We doin' it up and we doin' it hard and we gonna take over," Polanco says in the interview. "I'm here to step it up a notch."
Education officials said they are looking into Polanco's on-screen alter ego.
"We take parents' concerns seriously and are following up on them," said agency spokeswoman Connie Pankratz.
PS 33 Chelsea Prep in Manhattan has seen an influx of migrant kids who are easily identified by green ID tags hanging from their necks.
[photo: Kevin C. Downs]
The headline says it all. This is the effect the migrants are having on New York City public schools.
Ok, I have to ask: just who is weaponizing the "sanctuary city, home of the migrants"? Is it the Governor of Texas or Florida? Or Mayor Adams?
I am an advocate for justice and respect. I, like many Americans, want peace, a good life, and a government by the people for the people. But how can we provide for anybody, if all services and providers come to a halt because there are too many who need them?
New Yorkers hear every day in the news that the City welcomes families via bus, airplane or other, cars, trains. Yet the NYC Department of Education, under the control of Mayor Adams, is not - and cannot - handle the number of kids placed into classrooms where the teachers do not speak Spanish. Remember, more than a thousand teachers and educators were fired in 2021-2022 because they did not get vaccinated. Are all the kids and parents now coming in and out of the public schools in all the boroughs, vaccinated? Are the administrators, tutors, and paraprofessionals all vaccinated within the last 6 months so that they are protected from getting/infecting others with COVID? Does the vaccine even work to protect people from getting ill? I don't think so. Are the teachers who are being suddenly given classrooms of kids all certified to teach? I have heard not.
Migrant children who don’t speak any English are “scared” and struggling to cope after being placed at a New York City school where there’s a lack of bilingual teachers, The Post has learned.
City Hall and the Department of Education have come under fire after The Post revealed some migrant kids are sitting in classrooms where instruction in Spanish is limited because there aren’t enough teachers certified in the language.
“They’re only in English. I don’t understand it. It’s hard and scary for me,” Fernanda, a first-grader at PS 33 Chelsea Prep in Manhattan, told The Post this week.
“I don’t talk to not one friend, I stay quiet, I don’t how they talk, English.”
Fernanda’s mother, Lida Téllez, said communicating with the school has been “difficult and complicated” because there are only a few teachers who speak Spanish.
“I haven’t had the chance to figure out what’s going on or talk to anyone at the school because her professor doesn’t speak Spanish and my daughter doesn’t understand what’s happening,” the 37-year-old mom explained.
“There is one lady at the school that we go to for help sometimes but she’s just one person and can’t help us all the time,” she continued. “It’s frustrating but we can’t really complain.”
Despite the recent influx of migrant kids being assigned to the school by the DOE, PS 33 initially had just one certified bilingual teacher and was scrambling to reassign teachers who can speak at least a little Spanish, sources said.
Migrant mom Diana Garcia said her 5-year-old daughter was placed in one of the few classes where the teacher can switch between English and Spanish.
“It’s difficult for her. She says she doesn’t understand a lot of things throughout her day,” Garcia, 20, said of her daughter.
“We didn’t get to choose, but luckily for her grade, there’s a Spanish-speaking teacher,” she added. “Not everyone has bilingual classes, very few, some teachers speak just a little Spanish.”
Jesus G’s 5-year-old son is also in a bilingual class.
“It is hard for him to not understand anything, but he’ll pick it up,” he told The Post. “He has other Spanish-speaking kids in there with him.”
Schools Chancellor David Banks admitted Thursday that the lack of bilingual teachers for migrant students across the city was a “real problem” that hadn’t yet been resolved.
“We’re still working on it,” Banks told reporters after a keynote speech at the Association for a Better New York.
“We don’t have enough to spread them around to meet the need of what’s actually going on right now. We’ve got thousands of students who come in, most of whom don’t speak any English.”
He added: “Bilingual teachers have always been a shortage area for us anyway. So it’s not like we wave a magic wand, and we got all the answers. We’re trying to figure it out. This is a real problem, happening in real time.”
Currently, the DOE decides where migrant kids can attend school based on a range of factors, including the proximity to the shelter where their family has been placed and availability of schools.
“We have some challenges here in terms of where the kids are placed because so much of it is being driven by where they are being placed in their temporary housing,” Banks said.
“So if you get temporary housing somewhere in Chelsea, we don’t want to send you to school in Queens.
“These are young kids who don’t even know New York City. And so we’re kind of limited in terms of where we can place them in schools. But we’re working to ensure that the schools have what they need.”
It comes after City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams demanded Wednesday that the DOE “get a handle” on the placement of thousands of asylum-seeking kids in city schools.
“We have to ensure that the children coming into the schools have Spanish-speaking teachers or Spanish-speaking individuals in those schools,” she said of the city’s lack of preparedness to handle the migrant influx.
The predicament is yet another example of how the ongoing influx of migrants — now nearly 19,000 — is straining the city’s ability to provide them with shelter and an education.
PS 33 initially had just one certified bilingual teacher and was scrambling to reassign teachers who can speak at least a little Spanish, sources said.
Meanwhile, some non-migrant parents have flagged concerns that their own children will suffer and be held back if teaching manpower continues to be stretched too thin because there aren’t enough Spanish-speaking teachers.
District 2 Superintendent Kelly McGuire, who oversees PS 33, tried to allay concerns at a meeting earlier this week, telling parents that the school was working to hire bilingual substitute teachers amid the recent migrant influx.
“What I‘ve heard is that teachers are afraid of the kids holding back the courses, but that’s not our fault,” said Téllez, the mom of first-grader Fernanda.
Still, aside from the language barrier, Téllez said PS 33 had helped them “a lot with clothes and food.”
“Other than the communication, everything has been good,” she said.
“I was nervous about sending her to school without papers because I was sure they wouldn’t let her in, but it’s a huge blessing that they did. I was also worried about sending her to school without having any clothing, since we got to this country with nothing.“
She added: “It’s scary, not knowing anyone or the language, but at least my daughter is in school. And most importantly my daughter is happy going to school. And little by little, she’ll learn English.”
Garcia, the other migrant mom, said she too had received help since her daughter was placed at PS 33.
“I have gotten help from one of the Spanish-speaking teacher, a gentleman who has helped us figure out housing, communication with the school, and even help with getting water,” she said.