Saturday, September 15, 2018

Another Day, Another Scandal-Plagued Principal in Fun City

One of the great things about being a principal is that no matter what you do, NYC wants you. You read about these principals who do awful things, harass staff, and nothing happens to them until the city's on the hook for almost a million bucks in payoffs. Can you imagine what Campbell Brown, or whoever the reformies are using this week, would be ranting about if this were a teacher?

Nonetheless, principals can do pretty much whatever. Evidently, the only consequence is being sent to twiddle your thumbs over at Tweed. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. Of course, not every principal is reassigned. I regularly hear tales of abuse, incompetence, cruelty and various mixtures up to all of the above.

The former principal of Automotive High School did not fare so well at that particular gig. Evidently, she had failing Regents scores changed to passing. She drove teachers from their jobs, and most didn't return anyway when they did the big rehiring thing they do in those "renewal" schools. It's funny how the city will determine a school is failing, blame the teachers, and let the principal stay on. Maybe they figure principals have nothing to do with progress or lack thereof. Maybe they don't want to pay them to shuffle papers in Tweed. Or maybe they have rabbis who look after them and make sure nothing bad happens.

This particular principal moved on to greener pastures. She scored a gig in Baldwin, Long Island, making 169K a year. While there, she zeroed in on crucial issues, like girls wearing short skirts or visible bra straps. She contended such clothing was "distracting to male staff members." I'm reminded of those religious guys who won't sit next to women on planes because it's evidently too much for them to restrain their animal urges.

Perhaps short skirts are distracting. On the other hand, this year I'm sitting in half a classroom, and that's even more distracting. I'd be perfectly happy to have every one of my female students wear short skirts if I could get a real classroom. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but it would be a lot easier for me to ignore their clothing than the fact that I can't give a test without having everyone and anyone cheat as much as they want. I have other colleagues working in trailers with no AC. I'll bet you they'd be OK with girls dressing how they wish if they could have it. In fact, you could argue that the students wearing the scantiest clothing are the brightest, given those conditions.

This principal also saw fit to name suspended students, along with their alleged infractions, in a newsletter she sent out. I find that remarkable. Full disclosure--I am not the most diplomatic person around. Nonetheless, I've been writing this blog since 2005 and the most I've ever revealed the names of my students, good, bad or indifferent, has been never. I'd argue that's common sense, and that even if it's the least common of all the senses, you have to follow it. In case that's not enough, it's also in violation of federal regulations.

The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, strictly prohibits the disclosure of student records, including disciplinary decisions, except to those directly involved with the student’s education, said Joel Reidenberg, director of the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham University.

So what do you do with a principal like that? If you're Mayor Bill de Blasio, or Chancellor Richard Carranza, or whichever of their operatives makes such decisions, you hire her back, but this time as an assistant principal. I don't actually know who made this decision. I can tell you with 100% certainty that neither of the principals I've worked with as chapter leader would have hired a person with a record like this.

The only bright spot here is that she makes less money than teachers at the top of the salary scale. I'm gonna go ahead and say that will be cold comfort to the poor souls who will have to work for her. Maybe she'll be on her best behavior, but who even wants to find out what that's like?

I'm sure if I did half of what this principal did I'd be sitting at a 3020a hearing, wondering whether or not I'd have a job next month.
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