Likely those slips would not have made a difference in the final tragedy, but there IS something else Mr. Maldonado-Rivera should have done that WOULD perhaps have made a difference: intervene in the trip plan. Sending 25 or so students out to an ocean beach, accompanied by a first-year teacher, a 19-year-old intern, and the teacher's boyfriend(!!!) does not in my mind constitute anything remotely close to due care and precaution. If parents had known that this trio constituted their children's entire cohort of chaperones, some might have voiced concern to the school. Regardless, Mr. Maldonado-Rivera's job is to ensure that the chaperoning is adequate to the event, and in this case, it was patently not. The potential for trouble could easily have been foreseen and should have been, due to the small number of chaperones, their inexperience, and the fact that one of them did not even know how to swim. Mr. Maldonado-Rivera's failure to insist on more, or at least more experienced and mature chaperones (and ones who could swim) appears at minimum to have been a direct contributor to the tragedy. He may well be a wonderful school principal, but he also seems to have fostered a dangerously casual attitude toward procedures and safety, one that seems to have at least contributed to a young girl's needless, accidental death.
The DOE response, that "In the heartbreaking days following Nicole's death our primary focus was not on the tenure status of Columbia Secondary School officials" is ridiculous and belied by their own actions, since it certainly didn't take them long to focus on the employment status of the teacher (now fired) and the AP (now demoted from administration back to being "just" a teacher).
In Joel Klein's DOE, there's only accountability when it serves their interests or promotes their agenda. Nice work if you can get it.
Sent: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 11:09 am
Subject: [nyceducationnews] Harlem principal got tenure after deadly beach trip where student Nicole Suriel drowned
Harlem principal got tenure after deadly beach trip where student Nicole Suriel drowned
- Another school allowed kids to swim at same beach where girl drowned
- Anger, tears at funeral for 12-year-old drowning victim
- Devastated dad wants answers in daughter's drowning death
- Class trip to beach ends in tragedy: Girl, 12, drowns
- Investigation cans teacher who let teen drown
- Beach reopens after tragedy
- Mother of girl who drowned at Long Beach breaks down
Read more: http://www.nydailyn
Last Updated: 6:17 AM, July 16, 2010
Posted: 2:34 AM, July 16, 2010
It's a mutiny.
Angry teachers are revolting against a Harlem middle-school principal they believe should get the heave-ho for authorizing a beach trip on Long Island in which 12-year-old Nicole Suriel drowned.
Teachers told The Post that "maverick" Principal José Maldonado-Rivera had a habit of flouting safety rules during his three years at Columbia Secondary School, including using unscreened and uncertified teachers -- and often parents, friends or spouses -- as instructors and volunteers.
They said his pattern of carelessness, such as ignoring limits on how many kids could enroll in a course that involved using power tools, box-cutters and other dangerous equipment, should have gotten him the boot after a probe released this week showed Maldonado failed to get parents to sign consent forms before the tragic trip.
REVOLTING: Now ex-teacher Erin Bailey (above) waits during the search for drowning victim Nicole Suriel (inset). Principal José Maldonado-Rivera attends her June 26 funeral.
"A young girl who should be enjoying her summer vacation . . . is not able to do that because of behavior and practices and conduct that originates in the office of the principal," said Chris Jones, a founding faculty member at the school. "If I was in the position that Dr. Maldonado was in, I would have resigned."
In the report released Wednesday, Maldonado took responsibility for putting 26-year-old teacher Erin Bailey, nonswimmer substitute Joe Garnevicus, and 19-year-old intern Victoria Wong in charge of sixth-graders on a June 22 field trip to Long Beach, LI.
There were no lifeguards on duty, and even kids who didn't know how to swim -- including drowning victim Nicole -- were allowed to enter the rough waters, according to the report.
While Bailey is being fired for poor judgment, Assistant Principal Andrew Stillman -- who organized the trip, but who backed out of attending at the last minute -- is merely being demoted.
Maldonado, a third-year principal who earned his tenure only in April, is facing just two years' probation. His attorney, Gary Naftalis, declined to comment.
Teacher Chance Malley said he had sent the district superintendent a letter expressing concerns about Maldonado days before the tragedy.
He and other staffers complained that four hours of testimony they had recently given to UFT officials documenting Maldonado's safety violations were never forwarded to investigators or to the Department of Education.
"These issues were meant to be brought to your attention in consideration and light of more recent and tragic events," Malley wrote in an e-mail to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
"I am also concerned that the investigative team did not receive testimony from a single teacher. I certainly hope that this is not the close of this investigation."
UFT officials said the complaints weren't directly relevant to the probe.
DOE spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said the superintendent did not receive a letter of complaint from Malley, and she couldn't find any complaints lodged against the principal.
"This was disciplinary action taken as a result of this specific incident," she said. "We are reviewing the regulations on field trips, and will be making some changes in light of this tragedy."
Additional reporting by Michael Blaustein, Jennifer Bain, Helen Freund and Sabrina Ford