Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The PS 106Q Saga....

... in chronological order


Feb. 8
Queen Bee Meets Queen Bee

by Norman Scott

There’s a story floating around about a recent visit Randi Weingarten made to PS 106 in Rockaway to address the issue of whether Principal Marcella Sills deserves designation as one of the UFT’s top ten “Principals from Hell.” Weingarten was not happy when she was forced to go upstairs to sign in, Sills’ way of showing her who was the boss. Weingarten said she was going to complain about the way Sills treats teachers (and most other people) to good buddy Kathy Cashin, who appointed Sills. Lot of good that will do since Cashin is currently fairly powerless (we’ll see where she stands when the post BloomKlein smoke clears) while running a Learning Support Network where she has to hustle to get client schools.

At least one teacher at the school claims there are records of observations in her folder signed by her that never took place, and that she never signed.

If you believe the stories going around the school community, there may well be more than one teacher involved.

The Wave worked on that story in June, at the end of the last school year, but the teacher involved, who acknowledged to a Wave editor that Sills had inded forged the teacher’s name to bogus evaluations, refused to go public, saying that the school investigator was going to take care of the problem and she did not want any further trouble from bogus ratings.

BloomKlein empowered principals. So, what’s a little forgery?

I had my own run-in with the haughty Sills a few years ago. She sure is a snappy dresser – I guess she doesn’t have to worry about little kids clutching at her with affection. I came to the school to give teachers leaflets from the opposition caucus, ICE, and she denied me access to the mailboxes, one of the few principals in Rockaway to do so. She used the term, “Not in MY school.” I should have asked to see her deed.

Ironically, the literature was critical of Randi Weingarten and the UFT leadership. But no matter how critical of Weingarten I’ve been, when it comes to the Battle of the Queen Bees, I’m rooting for Randi on this one.


Feb. 22, 2008

PS 106 Parents: UFT Says 'Sabotage Test Scores'
By Miriam Rosenberg
Asmall group of parents at PS 106 in Edgemere withstood the freezing cold early Tuesday morning to protest the way their children are treated by school staff, as well as other "internal problems" in the school.

Parents of PS 106 students protest across the street from the school Tuesday morning. PA president Joy Bunch, right, pointed out the low turnout was due to the short notice given to parents who have to work. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg
Parents say that, at a recent meeting at the school, UFT President Randi Weingarten called the principal unflattering names and urged teachers to sabotage the all-important standardized testing program.

"There's a crisis in PS 106," said Joy Bunch, the president of the Parent's Association. "We have safety issues surrounding the school, problems regarding the back gates being left open. There's no safety protocol in the school. There's a lack of communication between teachers and parents."

Sandra Prendergast, another parent at the school, highlighted safety issues as her main complaint.

Even though the protestors were not on school grounds, school safety officers were called and would not leave until the small group of parents did.
"You can't have the [back] gate open and anybody can walk in at any time," said Prendergast. "Kids need protection."

India Jackson, who has a child in first grade at the school, elaborated on what she believes is a lack of communication between parents and teachers.

"[Teachers] don't want us to share our views on how they're educating our children," said Jackson.

In a separate issue, parents claim that a handful of teachers are verbally and physically abusing students at the school.

"I walked down the stairs last week and saw a student being dragged by his ankles," said Bunch, who added she is not the only PA member to witness such incidents. "Last year I saw a teacher violently shaking a child. There have been reports that children have been placed under their desks by the same teacher, as a means of discipline."

The PApresident told The Wave that she has in her possession signed statements by parents whose children were abused.

As of press time, The Wave had not received promised copies of those statements.

The PA official further stated that reports of the incidents were given to the principal, who reportedly had investigated the teachers alleged to have committed the abuse, but these teachers remain at the school.

Bunch also said internal problems between Principal Marcella Sills and the teachers are affecting the students.

At the end of the last school year, charges were made that Sills had falsified teacher observations and forged at least one teacher's name to those observations. A Department of Education spokesperson told The Wave at the time that the incident was under investigation, but that it appeared to be a "simple misunderstanding between the teacher and the principal."

Just last week, a group of teachers contacted The Wave, contending that Sills had sent a letter to parents urging that some of the teachers be relieved of their duties, but The Wave has not been able to obtain a copy of the letter to confirm that contention.

According to Michael Catron, a learning leader/certified volunteer, Sills has received a negative reaction from some of the teachers.

Bunch believes the involvement of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is making things worse.

Two weeks ago, the teachers requested a closed-door meeting with Weingarten to take place at the school.

By all reports, the interaction between Weingarten and Sills was contentious.

And, although no parents were present at the meeting, several parents claim to know what went on and that Weingarten was extremely critical of Sills.

Bunch and several others, who were at this week's protest, said the UFT and Weingarten have their own agenda. Parents say they were told that when Weingarten showed up for a union meeting at the school on January 30, she called Sills unflattering names.

"Randy Weingarten called Miss Sills a bitch and said that sometimes the children have to take a back seat to teacher's issues," said Catron. "And that's wrong."

Catron said he got his information from a teacher who "came out and told us what happened [at the union meeting]."

While parents have only hearsay about what went on at the meeting, some say they were told by teachers that the union president told teachers to stop teaching the test prep classes for the state math exam, which would result in lower test scores in an attempt to make PS 106 a UFT targeted school and force Sills out.

"Teachers have come up personally and told me themselves what was said in the meeting," said Bunch.

The test prep rumor is just one of the reasons a pregnant Eva Bennett, whose daughter attends PS 106, came out on one of the coldest days of the year to join in the protest.

"You don't come in calling names and spewing rhetoric and crying that teachers should sabotage test scores," said an angry Bennett. "You sabotage a kid's test scores [and] you're getting our kids left back. Did anybody talk about that? It has not been proven untrue, and in fact every person we've talked to about the test prep rumor would not deny it. I feel that it needs to be on record that there was a rumor to sabotage their tests scores, because if a large enough amount of kids fail this test you need some sort of recourse [to demand a retest]."

Bunch's position is that all the problems at the school can be handled inhouse without the outside interference of the UFT.

"We can work this out on our own," said Bunch, referring to Principal Sills, the UFT chapter representative in the school and herself.

AUFT spokesperson declined to comment on what went on at the closeddoor meeting, stating that the meeting was a clear exchange of ideas between union members and their president.

Feb. 22, 2008
Livid Over Scott's PS 106 Portrayal
Dear Editor,

I am livid about Norman Scott's commentary in School Scope (Queen Bee Meets Queen Bee). Scott needs to get the story straight before he goes off on a one-sided tirade against Principal Sills or UFT President Randi Weingarten.

It is a well-established fact that before Ms. Sills was the principal of PS 106 anyone could walk onto school property and take a child off the premises. Principal Sills established a security control where EVERYONE has to sign in with the security guard showing proper identification, which is recorded by the security guard or office employee.

Weingarten got upset because she expects to be treated above the rest of our community. If parents have to sign in and then sign out to come onto school premises, then what makes Ms. Weingarten above this very important security procedure? Especially, as quoted by an article in The Wave, the amount of pedophiles that live all around our school. So as far as there being a battle of whose boss, Ms. Weingarten loses, as Principal Sills is the boss of that school and has every right to insist that EVERYONE who enters PS 106 to sign in. I know for a fact that the UFT meeting was held on the top floor in the library and she had to climb the stairs anyway… so her argument is moot. The school office is on the second floor and the library is right above that using the same staircase.

As for Scott's ICE pamphlets, Principal Sills' remark that she won't have any political agenda entering her (My) school is more than appropriate. Hitting below the belt and attacking Principal Sills dress is another personal remark that Mr. Scott should keep to himself or at least share only with his other misogynistic brethren. Principal Sills embodies what a young successful woman should dress like.

She is a glowing example of a successful woman and human being. The catty remark made by Scott that she doesn't have to worry about messing up her clothes to hug or comfort her students is ludicrous and immoral. I have witnessed Principal Sills on a daily basis getting tears, snot, vomit, etc. on her clothes. She is a hands-on Educator and Scott needs to take his own personal inventory before jumping on her simply because she would not let him have his way. Principal Sills is a competent and confident principal, deserving our respect and admiration.

She has brought in a teaching paradigm that has had a huge effect on her student's ability to learn and retain that knowledge along with the fact that she supports the parents of this community with a maternal and nurturing character. Mr. Scott you should be ashamed of yourself and withdraw any further contributions to The Wave. You have clearly shown yourself to be a sexist impotent moron when it comes to passing judgments on qualified and hardworking principals that make their student's priority number one. Mr. Scott please, keep your ill informed opinions to yourself.

MICHAEL CANTRON

LEARNING LEADER

PS 106


Feb. 29, 2008
Dear Editor, February 18, 2008

After reading the School Scope column by Norman Scott {QUEEN BEE MEETS QUEEN BEE} and the subsequent hodge podge of fabrications by others who responded, I felt compelled to set the public straight by detailing the pure and unexpurgated truth.
I have been a staff member of PS106Q for eighteen years. I have seen many principals come and go, along with changes in policy and various respective initiatives.
First the facts: the UFT meeting was not held on the third floor of the main building, but was in fact held in the auxiliary building, fondly known as the mini-building and recently renamed by Principal Sills as the “Early Childhood Academy.” I agree, all visitors should sign in following the protocol for safety, but be advised that this has ALWAYS been the protocol in the school and in fact all schools in New York City. This procedure was not a new initiative by our current principal. In fact, Ms. Weingarten signed in at the security desk and was told that she was to be “escorted” to the UFT meeting room.
The statements made by writer Miriam Rosenberg are totally false. There was never ANY mention of testing or of sabotaging test scores at any UFT meetings. I would question the lack of integrity of one who spreads such untruths as opposed to the integrity of hard working educators. It appears to most of the staff that someone is deliberately feeding the PA and President Joy Bunch a lot of “hooey” to incite parents against teachers unfairly and unnecessarily. I have also been eyewitness to some unfortunate isolated behavioral outbreaks by these few children who are sorely in need of small group educational settings and are visibly misplaced in inclusion classes. I have also seen staff members physically abused and harmed by emotionally distressed children. All teachers in the DOE are advised not to break up physical fights between students. There is no compensation or disability provided to a teacher who is hurt on the job if said teacher is hurt as a result of breaking up a fight. What about trying to subdue a student who is out of control and is throwing a fit that involves trashing a classroom and in the process becomes a threat to others? The teachers of these children are never the less held “culpable” by administration when they are faced with the challenge of maintaining decorum in a class with a large register in addition to several emotionally unpredictable students who cannot function within such a large educational setting. Making the teacher a scapegoat is not a resolution and it certainly will not make the problem go away.
We are setting ourselves up for failure if tactics of creating divisiveness amongst staff and between staff and parent body continues. Successful schools have always brought about achievement due to joint effort and collaboration of administration and staff. We need to put the children first and stop slinging mud. It is their needs that are paramount. The dishonesty and lying has to stop too.
The Klein-Bloomberg ‘coalition’ has, according to this writer made more than a few absurd decisions and set some ridiculous policies that have already proven to be less than wise…AND innocuous political brotherhood that determines educational policy can only bring deleterious fallout. All DOE staff members are subject to the political agendas of the administration, whether it is local or regional, PS 106 is not exempt here. Parents everywhere should be aware that Bloomberg has worked with our school chancellor to train the Newbies who attend the Principals’ Leadership Academy to act as corporate execs and clean house of 10% of their current staff regularly. This precept is based on the premise that at least 10% of workers in corporations are unsatisfactory in their production. School administrators were previously known to mold and guide staff in becoming the best educators they can be.
No inexperienced personnel in a ‘beginners’ position is going to perform in an exemplary manner without the personal growth that develops via guidance, mentoring and experience in the field- not even the PLA graduates. Administrators can be respected for their accomplishments, visions and initiatives and they can do so by treating their staff with courtesy and propriety- they cannot deem respect for themselves if they are condescending and mean to their staff.
In addition, the forgery of a teacher’s classroom observations did in fact take place and Principal Sills has recently referred to this blatant act of deception and dishonesty as a “misunderstanding.” This example of poor judgment on behalf of an administrator is unforgivable. Is this an example of a proper role model for educators, parents and students? Can trust, respect and confidence grow between staff and administrative leadership under these circumstances? Is it a wonder that teachers who were appointed to PS 106 prior to Ms. Sills’ placement have transferred to other schools? Are current teachers being harassed, possibly to encourage their leave taking of the school as well? Newly hired teachers are so duped that they can only deny the truth and thus disavow any wrongdoings to colleagues. This select group is within Ms. Sills’ “inner circle”. They are treated royally, can do no wrong and thus support Ms. Sills with na├»ve innocence that they are safe and secure and on her “good side”. Herein lays the power of dividing the staff to avoid attaining strength in numbers. The teachers of PS 106 recently cast ballots and voted by majority to name Ms. Sills as a Principal in Need of Improvement. This is the reality at PS106.
Mr. Cantron refers to Ms. Sills being covered with tears, snot and vomit during the course of a day. This is so absurd, it’s actually funny. Ms. Sills spends most of her day in her office with minimal close contact with the early childhood population who might possibly get to soil her suits, however with a school nurse on premises, this is highly unlikely.
There has been an awful lot of mud-slinging going on of late. Our teachers have been “bad mouthed” and slandered before the parent body. Spreading false rumors about professional hard working staff is hitting me and my colleagues below the belt as well. Sending letters to parents claiming teachers are abusing students (unproven and undocumented) is not only underhanded and deplorable, it is pure slander. This is a way to initiate a riot and negative impressions and it is not reflective of an interest into an honest investigation to seek the truth.
These actions demoralize staff members who are dedicated to raising standards at PS106.
Bringing in Core Knowledge Curriculum to narrow the gap in the education of minorities and lower income populations is indeed commendable; however this initiative does not eradicate all the incidents of dishonesty that several teachers have experienced as a result of their interactions with Ms. Sills. Ms. Sills has expressed a desire for a “clean slate” between herself and the staff. This can be accomplished if everyone’s cards are laid out on the table. Frankly, who would blame any staff member for their lack of trust and confidence in the administration at this point? Speaking your mind and being honest has too often resulted in retribution. That makes us all losers.
In regard to “safety” issues at PS 106, I do not feel any less safe today, than I did when I was first appointed to the school. We are fortunate to have two safety officers at PS106. If both officers are in place, in each building, as soon as the buildings open, everyone is equally safe. The outer gates are also fire exits for all people in the building. We cannot scramble around looking for a key that is held by one or two building personnel in the event of the outbreak of fire.
Why hasn’t the community questioned the three years of scaffolding that adorned the building when no work was being done during all that time? Why aren’t parents asking why most of the computers are nonfunctioning and why there hasn’t been any indication of repairs ordered? Where are basic supplies for the classrooms? Why hasn’t P.S. 106 updated and upgraded the school library in years? Why hasn’t the spending budget been made available to the SLT in the past three years? All cards need to be laid out on the table on all fronts. Honesty and integrity is the road to mutual respect. A true professional puts personal preferences and differences aside and does the job to their best ability. We cannot fail the children no matter who we like or dislike in the building.
This year is the first time since my appointment to PS106 that I remain without an assignment in my specialty area. For years I have been privileged to provide our children with academic support services in literacy instruction and some differentiated instruction within the classroom. This year there are no academic support services for our children, other than standard classroom instruction. This lack of services is harming the academic progress of many children who fall way below benchmark levels for their grade. These children will be sitting in testing grades in a year or two and we will not be able to close the gap or educational lag in time for them to test within even an average range within the grade level. This is an example of poor judgment by administration where personal feelings precede what is needed for the students.

I know that there are many teachers, including myself, wholly dedicated to the students that pass through the portals of PS106. I have never seen such divisiveness in school staff as I am witnessing under this leadership. Our Core Knowledge curriculum espouses teaching of the Golden Rule (Do unto others…) as well as many other virtues - virtues that highlight honesty, generosity, sensitivity and human kindness. We need to recognize that these virtues are applicable to all of us. There cannot be a double standard here, one for children and another for adults. We are one community.
So where do we go from here?

Sincerely,
M. Baum, Reading Specialist
P.S. 106


March 7: School Scope by Norm Scott

PS 106 Redux
Will the PS 106 story ever die? Guess not. There’s so much going on – much of which we can’t write about to protect people from retaliation. To summarize: My Feb. 8 column (Queen Bee Meets Queen Bee) talked about Randi Weingarten’s visit to the school where she was not given the warmest welcome by principal Marcella Sills, who has created a war-like atmosphere in the school between her and many teachers and teachers and parents. We also reported the charges by teachers that she forged their names to observations that never took place.
A week later, The Wave printed a story abut a parent protest over some things Weingarten supposedly said at the meeting (PS 106 Parents: UFT Says 'Sabotage Test Scores'), which was looked at as a vote of confidence in Sills, though few parents attended the protest (the PA president pointed out the low turnout was due to the short notice given to parents who have to work.) Some teachers feel the “protest” had Sills’ fingerprints all over it.
Teachers report that of the things Sills did upon taking over the school was drive out the old PA and put in her own brand, but this is standard operating procedure for many principals in schools without a very active parent base.
In that same Feb. 15 edition, Michael Catron, a learning leader/certified volunteer – what exactly is that – wrote a letter castigating me for my column, even calling me a moron. My joke response on Feb. 22 that I was a moron – more-on than off – GET IT – about events at PS 106 – apparently gave the wrong impression I was agreeing with Catron. Teachers have said it is not clear what exactly Catron does at the school. But they raise the same questions about others in the building who are close to Sills and seemingly have duties that are hard to pin down.
The story continued last week in The Wave’s “My Turn” column with teacher M. Baum, a reading specialist at PS 106, taking both Catron and the parent protest to task with a scathing critique of Sills, a very gutsy thing to do. Baum is an 18-year vet who teachers say has been sitting in the school without being given an assignment. Our independent inquiries are that she is a very caring, extremely capable teacher who is on the wrong side of the political tracks.
Here is a brief section from her extensive report:
Mr. Cantron refers to Ms. Sills being covered with tears, snot and vomit during the course of a day. This is so absurd, it’s actually funny. Ms. Sills spends most of her day in her office with minimal close contact with the early childhood population who might possibly get to soil her suits, however with a school nurse on premises, this is highly unlikely.
There has been an awful lot of mud-slinging going on of late. Our teachers have been “bad mouthed” and slandered before the parent body. Spreading false rumors about professional hard working staff is hitting me and my colleagues below the belt as well. Sending letters to parents claiming teachers are abusing students (unproven and undocumented) is not only underhanded and deplorable, it is pure slander. This is a way to initiate a riot and negative impressions and it is not reflective of an interest into an honest investigation to seek the truth.

Sills is a graduate of the dreaded Leadership Academy, where prospective principals are trained with an attack dog mentality to go after experienced (higher salaried) teachers using certain techniques that may include water boarding. Baum better wear a scuba mask.
You know the drill: immediately target some teachers for harassment, mostly senior, to put fear into the rest of the staff and start forcing people out. If you have to use forgery, go right ahead. Bring in younger inexperienced, teachers who will be easily intimidated.
Make sure to purge the former parents association, which might have allegiance to the old principal and set them against those “horrible” teachers.
It is only a rumor that LA people are given a pet animal which they must kill before they are allowed to graduate.
Word is that the Wave stories have sparked some interest from the higher ups, who couldn’t give a crap until stuff gets into the press. They want people to cool it, but this will not happen without an olive branch from Sills, whose future career cannot be helped by these revelations.
Sills is not without her supporters amongst the teachers – the very same newer people she has brought in. Word to the wise: when all the older teachers have been purged, watch out! Your turn will come.

PTA President at PS 106 Speaks out:


I’ve posted all stories on PS 106 in chronological order on the ednotes online blog. Look for the
link in the sidebar.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The title 'WEEN BEE" fits so nicely to all the principals form the Leadership Academy. You ar completely right, these principals have the "attack dog mentality to go after experiences teachers".

Lisenny Rodriguez said...

wait....IS THIS THE MARCELLA SILLS THAT WORKED AS A TEACHER AT P.S.1.S.41?

Kate said...

Yeah i agree with you.. "WEEN BEE"... Have you seen the movie matilda, the pricipal is exactly a "ween bee". I really love that movie.

Anonymous said...

Keep digging......this principal is never in the building. Someone should track her hours, she collects a check withoout working for it.
She has displaced several teachers without cause. She lies all the time and has nothing to back her actions against teachers. She allows the teachers who don't teach to get tenured while she blocks hard working teachers. You have to cheat on the state exams to be in her good graces. She has the parent coordinator proctoring state exams so she can cheat for the students. She has a core knowledge facilitator who collects a check without working, a math coach, IEP teacher, and parent coordinator who do the same.
Currently, she collapsed a fourth class and now the Astre class has 36 students. A fourth grade teacher is now teaching first grade on the 3rd floor in the main building. The students are separated from their peers and are not bathroomed as a class.
The NYC DOE must investigate PS 106Q,the principal and her practices. She needs to know that she must have a deed to claim this school.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. There have been many times when I have tried to meet with this principal and she was not there. I was told she was in a meeting, or was unavailable. What I found rather interesting is that her car was never parked in her personal car port. Why hasn't the DOE investigated her where abouts?

Anonymous said...

I blame the NYC DOE and Kathleen Cashin for the problems at PS 106Q....well Cashin is now retired. This current school year is an eventful one. There has been many warnings about this abusive principal at PS 106Q but she is still there endangering the welfare and lives of the students in my local community. Tha Parent Association is aware that there are missing funds and that the Parent Coordinator is in cohorts with the principal. Go back and check when the Parent Coordinator was ill....she was still on the books, compliments of the principal. Is she obligated to her? Figure it out. Please investigate the child who was taken away yesterday in the ambulance. Undue force was used by the Principal to subdue this student but there is no documentation of this. It is time to remove this woman from my school community. I am fearful for my children and all children in this school. When are you going to show up NYC DOE?
Norman Scott we need you to get active in this fight again. There is too much at stake.

Anonymous said...

this may be of interest:

http://nypost.com/2014/01/12/no-space-no-books-no-leader-no-clue-at-citys-worst-elementary/

Anonymous said...

Here's Queen Bee Marcella's personal email. Have fun: marcellasills@gmail.com