Thursday, July 22, 2010

Girls Prep Principal/CEO Miriam Lewis Raccah resigns

Check out the NY1 story below, and even more telling the GS article and comments here:

As we have been saying for years, the phony inflated grades and "accountability" systems cooked up by DoE and the self interest built into the crazy ( and getting crazier) "school support organizations" with built-in COI are making the local incompetence and small time corruption by some community school boards look like small potatoes.

Look out as more and more "networks," fueled by self interest (the need to survive, grow market share, gain power, etc) place "their" people in principal, AP and other bureaucratic and administrative positions.

Empowerment School Czar Nadlestern and his posse have modeled this move to power, after all.

This is not about the kids- this is business, baby.

What’s not clear from the report is how Pena-Herrera lasted as long as she did. According to the report, her supervisors saw red flags almost immediately, and in February 2007, two years before Pena-Herrera was removed, city officials convened a meeting to discuss her out-of-control financial practices.

One clue comes from the shifting lines of authority at the Department of Education in recent years. Figuring prominently into the report is Julia Bove, who was the superintendent of PS 114’s district in the 2005-2006 school year. Bove told investigators that she immediately recognized that Pena-Herrera was in over her head. But the following year Bove no longer supervised Pena-Herrera. The year after that, Bove once again worked with PS 114, but she did not have any real authority over Pena-Herrera because she was employed by one of the organizations within the department that competed for contracts with schools. PS 114 paid Bove’s group, the Integrated Learning and Instruction Learning Support Organization, $38,000 for its support, according to the report.

Another clue comes from Bove’s comment to investigators about the city’s priorities for its principals:

Bove reported that the Chancellor’s Office had been ready to remove Penaherrera [sic] during the 2007-2008 school year, but as a result of the massive amount of support provided to Penaherrera, the school’s rating went from an “F” to a “B,” so the Chancellor’s Office left Penaherrera in place.

Investigator: Brooklyn Principal Mismanaged Funds For Years

By: Lindsey Christ

Mayor Bloomberg and his schools chancellor say the key to reforming the schools is empowering principals, and holding them accountable. But a case in Brooklyn raises the question of whether that policy has always been followed as an investigation shows one principal remained in charge for years, even though officials knew she was seriously mismanaging her budget. Now investigators say she was also engaged in fraud. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It began with a tip about misused money and faked financial documents at PS 114 in Canarsie. Investigators say they found plenty of evidence against principal Maria Penaherrera -- but there was much more. They say while she was in charge, PS 114 racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

"Everyone we spoke to mentioned how badly she was running the school, including one of the two consultants she had hired with the falsified bids. He said he had never seen more incompetence in the running of a school," said special schools investigator Richard Condon.

Penaherrera continued running the school for five years, even though the Department of Education admits it was no secret that she couldn't manage her budget. Her direct supervisor said she had known from day one that Penaherrera needed massive support to even function and "went crazy with the budget, spending money that she did not have."

Investigators say Penaherrera violated other rules, like rehiring a teacher who had been fired and paying for it with money meant for substitutes. They found check stubs showing school funds used for "glasses repair," "lost cell phone," tickets to a benefit dinner and a traffic ticket.

"This was really a lot of different issues," Condon said.

In 2006 she forgot to schedule the school graduation. In 2007, she kept a student out after his family filed a lawsuit saying he had been bound, gagged and locked in a closet by classmates. Teachers even chartered buses to their union headquarters to stage protests about her.

"Everyone was aware of her incompetence," Condon said.

In February 2009, Penaherrera was late to school when a carbon monoxide alarm went off. There was no safety plan, and she had left nobody in charge, so the school wasn't evacuated. Only then, did the DOE remove her as principal. She's still on the DOE payroll, although a spokesperson says they will try to fire her, now that they've learned of the fraud charges.

When the principal who replaced Penaherrara arrived, she realized the after-school program didn't have a permit. Investigators say the man running the program left a suitcase full of knock-off handbags on her desk, leading to more evidence of how business was done at PS 114.

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