Thursday, November 17, 2011
Teacher/Parent Outrage at Queens Metro HS as DOE Ignored Problem - HS Supt Juan Mendez on Hot Seat - Network Too
My son is a 10th grader at Queens Metropolitan High School. I am blind copying many different groups on this e-mail; parents, teachers, and other BOE officials. Please rest assured that your e-mails will remain confidential with me. I know that many are speaking to me on the condition they remain anonymous (mainly some teachers) and I intend to keep that promise.
To start off, an article was written up today about our school Please find the article here:
11/16/new-queens-school-with- high-hopes-battles-scheduling- crisis/#more-71211
Whether you are a parent or a teacher, we are all frustrated and fed up with the administration at QMHS. Teachers, please understand that we know your hands are tied with the situation. We know exactly where to place the blame. We thank you for doing all that you can to make sure our children’s basic core standards are being met and we beg you to continue to do so.
I like to bring everyone up to speed on what I have been doing. For the past several weeks I have been reaching out to as many BOE offices as I possibly can. I’ve reached out to Queens High School Superintendent Juan Mendez, to the District 28 CEC, to the Citywide Council on High Schools, and I have been trying to reach DOE Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. Many of you know that Queens Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and her staff have been working hard on getting the proper authorities aware of our situation. We thank Ms. Crowley and Katherine Mooney for their efforts.
Until now, the responses that I have been getting back from the above groups have been few and what I do get back is very vague. “We are currently investigating the matter”. Today, November 16th we hit a bit of luck. My husband spoke directly to Senior Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky, who is second in command to DOE Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. My husband went over the various issues, the pressing issue being the inaccurate schedules and lack of a Chemistry teacher. Mr. Polakow-Suransky patiently listened and was not happy with what he was hearing. He acknowledged that it sounded like we have major issues and his response was “You are going to get the help you need.” His other concern was the lack of response from the Queens High School Superintendent office. He asked that I e-mail him describing in detail what has been going on. You can see my e-mail to him below which begins the outline our situation. The attached two documents are the supporting documents I supplied to him as well. One is my e-mail with Queens High School Superintendent office representative and the second is my notes from the PTA meeting held November 15th.
For those who are unaware, there was a PTA meeting held on Tuesday, November 15th. You’ll find my notes attached with a lot of information. Many parents were speaking out to Principal Levy-Mcguire and no one was happy with her responses to the various questions. She either denied knowledge of said issue or she blatantly lied. The parents pointed out issue after issue and asked for answers from Principal Levy-Mcguire. No answers were provided. No plan was developed on how to she plans to address our concerns. At the end of the meeting the parents were left frustrated and angry.
Tomorrow I plan to call Senior Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky to get his opinion of my e-mail. I want him to tell me what action he plans to take, what results I may see, and a timeframe for these results. I will give him one week to outline a plan to me. If I can not get a satisfactory response then I am going to the major media outlets. This is where I need your help.
PARENTS- I am asking your help to reach out to as many parents as you possibly can. Pass them my e-mail address and phone number and ask them to e-mail me. If I go to the media I can not go alone, we need to stand many and we need to stand united. It is the only way we will get any action. So please start reaching out to other parents. I also want to hear from each of you regarding your story. What other issues do you want to be addressed?
TEACHERS- I am understand you may be hesitant for fear of repercussion. But I seriously need eyes and ear within the school. What results, if any, are you seeing? I need to know I am pushing the right buttons. I need to know if I need to push harder. Please rest assured that any teacher who wants to speak to me their identity will remain with me and me alone. But I beg you to reach out to me. If you have contact information for other frustrated parents please have them get in touch with me.
I will send out another e-mail once I get a response from the Senior Deputy Chancellor and will continue to be in touch with any information I have. But please feel free to contact me at any time. I work until 5pm but I will reply quickly to an e-mail.
Thank you all,
Dear Mr. Polakow-Suransky,
Before I begin I want to direct you to an article that was published November 16th which briefly touches on some of our school issues.
11/16/new-queens-school-with- high-hopes-battles-scheduling- crisis/#more-71211
Thank you for taking the time to speak with my husband John Sadowski earlier today regarding Queens Metropolitan High School. Our son is currently a tenth grader. As you know QMHS opened its doors for the first time in September of 2010 and unfortunately this school has been a disaster since Day 1. Many parents tried to be patient, with the understanding it was a new school and it would need time to work things out. Month by month things progressively got worse. By the end of the school year parents were frustrated. We could only hope that the administration would work over the summer understanding where they went wrong and begin to improve. We found out on day one in September 2011 that we were sadly mistaken.
On the first day of school Sept 2011 the student schedules were not yet ready. My child did not receive a schedule until day 3 or 4. Some parents have told me that there child had to wait longer. What soon followed after this was schedule change after schedule change. On October 31st my son received his ninth schedule change. On some of those schedules he had five or six blank spaces and nowhere to go during those times. On one of the schedule changes he was not given a lunch period. Some parents have told me that their children still have blank spaces and they are pulling their children from the school during those times. Teachers and parents have told me that hallways and stairways are crowded with students with no place to go. One schedule my son had was filled with obvious errors. He repeatly went to the main office to report these errors and he was finally directed to the Guidance Counselor. The Guidance Counselor told my son to “find someone with a similar schedule and then just follow that student’s schedule. I was horrified to learn that this was the schools response. I later found out from other parents that their children were told the same thing. On October 28th I was at the school and Vice Principal Lambert called me and my son over. She asked my son what schedule he following, because they could not find him the past week or so. I find this very alarming!!!! He is following the schedule the school provided and they can not find him???? What if he was hurt in the halls, would no one know? Ms. Lambert answered this with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes. On November 15th Principal Levy-Mcguire acknowledged that they schedules are still not correct and does not expect to have them resolved until sometime in December.
On October 26th my son’s Chemistry teacher quit with no notice. We currently do not have a replacement teacher. Instead we have substitute after substitute and no one is providing Chemistry lessons. Instead the children sit there and do nothing.
Parent Teacher Conferences took place on October 28th. Last year Parent Teacher Conferences were ran the traditional way. You went in at met one-on-one with each individual teacher. This year, an e-mail about Parent Teacher Conferences went out from Parent Coordinator Kim Ramazan. The e-mail states: We hope to see all parents at Parent Teacher Conferences on Friday. Your child's advisor will have his/her report card and will be prepared to discuss your child's progress. If you will be attending conferences and have not received a scheduled appointment with your child's advisor, please contact me and I will make arrangements. I took a half of day off from work so I can start the conferences during the afternoon session. When I met with my son’s advisor I was given his report card and told that I would not be meeting one-on-one with the individual teachers. It was the advisor’s role to review all of the report card with the parents. There would be a 30 minute “meet and greet” session involving all of the parents and all of the teachers in the lunch room that I could attend instead. Ironically, the Advisor I met with was not my son’s advisor but a substitute. When asked, she could not explain why my son received the grades he did, or what he was lacking in and needed further work on. When I voiced my concerns with Vice Principal Lambert, upset that I took off of work to attend, I was given an indigent reply that Kim’s e-mail was self explanatory. Her tone implied that I was stupid to think I would meet with teachers during Parent-Teacher Conferences.
My son currently has one text book; a Chemistry book, even though he has no Chemistry lessons. Principal Levy-Mcguire was surprised to learn this and instant that he should have text books for Global History and Geometry yet I promise you he does not. Other parents have mentioned that they have the Geometry book but not the Chemistry book.
Although the children are getting Gym, they are not having a gym lesson. Instead they sit in the gym without changing into uniforms and do nothing. Yet my son received a 75 on the report card while other students received 55s or 100s.
There is after school tutoring for the core classes however children are being turned away for lack of teachers.
Blackboard is the school’s program of choice for students and parents to log into to see the student classes and assignments. It has not been working at all this year as of yet. Last year it had nothing but problems with many parents voicing concerns that it was to confusing, not clear cut, and lacking classes. Basically, there is no way for a parent to track what is going on within a class or what assignments students should be working on.
Frustrated with the school, On October 28th I began reaching out to the BOE for help. Here is a list of the people I have reached out to and there response:
Queens High School Superintendent Juan Mendez: Selena South is the contact person who has been corresponding with me, with Mr. Mendez being copied on every single e-mail exchange. Her initial response was that she took my e-mail and forwarded onto Principal Levy-Mcguire to address my concerns with me. When I questioned why my e-mail, which outlines problems with the administration of the school (ie- principal and vice principals), has now been referred back to said principal her next response was that they would look into it. After two weeks of no reply back I followed up with her to be told “The claims are being investigated by the Network leader. All allegations are being addressed at this time.” There is no evidence of this and I asked her for further details and she has declined to respond.
District 28 CEC: After three e-mails to them which no answer was received I was finally told on November 16th by Sandra Williams that I would have to contact Citywide Council on High Schools and she provided me with the contact info for Paola de Kock.
Citywide Council on High Schools: Before receiving the recommendation from District 28 CEC to contact them I was already in touch with Joanne Bouillon-Middleton from the CC of HS however have not heard from her since 11/3. I left her a follow up voicemail on 11/15 and a follow up e-mail on 11/15 as well.
Queens Council Member Elizabeth Crowley: I have been in contact with Ms. Crowley and her staff since March or April of 2011. Ms. Crowley has two children within QMHS and sees first hand the problems. She is also getting feedback and complaints from many other parents. Her staff member Katherine Mooney has been trying to get involvement from the BOE and Superintendent Juan Mendez for months now but having to go through proper channels she has yet to seen results. I implore you to contact Kate at her office, they have been very helpful. Her contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone 718-366-3900.
Teacher Contact: I have been in contact with many teachers who wish to remain anonymous which I plan to upheld. They want to communicate freely without fear of repercussion. The teachers are just as upset as the parents are. From what I understand, Gillian Smith from the Children's First Network was brought in the week of November 7th to work on fixing the schedules. The schedules Gillian arrange were just as full of errors as all of the other schedules that have been produced thus far. A group of teachers provided feedback on the errors to Principal Levy-Mcguire who asked the teachers to wait it out. Later that day an e-mail went out to the teachers from Gillian Smith thanking them for taking ownership of correcting the schedule; something the teachers did not volunteer for. Further, Principal Levy-Mcguire offered the teachers release from their classes to give them time to work on the schedules. I saw evidence of this on Monday, November 14th when the student body was placed in the auditorium for three full periods with nothing to do. When the teachers went to Principal Levy-Mcguire to decline and state that they would rather teach classes Principal Levy-Mcguire retaliated by pulling all comp time positions – no grade team leaders, no advisory coordinator, no testing coordinator, no ESL coordinator, and no IEP coordinator – and this even though the teachers involved were already doing these jobs without receiving the comp periods off for them!
I am attaching the following supporting documents for you:
· My notes from the PTA meeting held November 15th. You can see that all of these issues were brought to the attention of Principal Levy-Mcguire and she provide no answers or constructive comments.
· Copy of my e-mails with Selena South on behalf of Superintendent Juan Mendez. You’ll notice that Mr. Mendez is copied on every single e-mail.
The parents are currently forming and gathering support from as many parents as we can and this journey has now led me to you. We are now asking for your involvement on behalf of our children. We would like an emergency meeting held between your office, the parents, and the school administration so you can see and hear first hand what our complaints are and how the school is handling it. We would like an official statement outlining what is the cause of these issues and a written plan on what steps will be taken to correct these issues. And we would like a reasonable time frame placed on the school to correct this as well as the school to be held accountable if these deadlines are not met. Parent frustration is building daily and we feel that our voices are not being heard. As tenth graders, we feel that these problems are overshadowing our children’s education and they are not meeting basic standards. With the college application process right around the corner we feel that urgency is of the uttermost importance right now.
I thank you so much for your time and I will eagerly await your reply. You can e-mail me here or call my husband John at