2010-10-01 / Top Stories

Charge: Principal Makes Staff Dog-Walkers

By Howard Schwach

BCHS has become a battleground between the traditional high school and a new high school that opened in the building this September. The most recent charge is that the new school’s principal brings her dog to school and requires school staff to care for the animal. BCHS has become a battleground between the traditional high school and a new high school that opened in the building this September. The most recent charge is that the new school’s principal brings her dog to school and requires school staff to care for the animal. The principal of a new Rockaway high school has been bringing her pet dog to school on a regular basis and expects school staff to care for it when she is busy, a United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Chapter Chairperson has charged in a formal grievance.

David Pecoraro, the UFT leader for Beach Channel High School has charged that Principal Jennifer Connolly, who leads the new Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability (RPHSES), which now shares the Beach 101 Street campus with BCHS and the Channel View School for Research (CVSR), first brought her dog to the building on September 7 and has continued to do so until the present time, sometimes requiring staff members to hold the dog outside the building and take it for walks. Pecoraro filed the formal grievance on September 22 and a formal Step 1 hearing was to be held in the building earlier this week, although there is no word on the result of the hearing. It is widely believed that the grievance will be heard at higher levels before a resolution.

Pecoraro told The Wave this week that both Connelly and her secretary refused to sign a receipt for the formal grievance, but that she has to respond to it within a specified time. In addition, he says, the dean of the new school came to Pecoraro and “harassed” him to drop the grievance, which he refused to do.

Pecoraro and Connelly have been feuding since the end of the last school year. The Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability was set by the Department of Education to replace Beach Channel High School when it was phased out and closed under Mayor Bloomberg’s “small schools” movement.

A court, however, put a hold on closing the 12 schools involved in the plan, stating that the mayor and his chancellor, Joel Klein, have not followed the rules for closing schools. Klein and Bloomberg, however, made a deal with the UFT allowing some of the new schools to open, including the new Rockaway high school. Late last school year, Pecoraro argued that Connolly was arbitrarily taking over rooms and equipment belonging to BCHS and was recruiting students from the older school’s registration. This is the latest shot in the war that began last year, insiders say.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told The Wave on Thursday morning that the charge of impropriety has been turned over to department investigators and that no further comment would be forthcoming until the investigation has been completed.

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BEACH CHANNEL HIGH SCHOOL - PROGRESS REPORT GRADE: D NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROGRESS REPORT 2008-2009 http://schools.nyc.gov/OA/SchoolReports/2008-09/Progress_Report_2009_HS_... SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT 5.3 out of 15 Category Grade F STUDENT PERFORMANCE 10.9 out of 25 Category Grade D STUDENT PROGRESS 20.9 out of 60 Category Grade F Additional Credit 1.0 OVERALL SCORE D How is Mr. Pecoraro of Beach Channel High School spending his time? Where is his attention focused, and why? Where should his attention be focused? Enough said.

I write a monthly column in

I write a monthly column in The Wave, Rock Solid. I vehemently disagree with the writer that either this brief article, or the school report card for Beach Channel, are "enough said." What matters are the facts. Why do we as a society feel compelled to LITIGATE matters like this--either in the press, the grievance process, or the courts? Principal Connolly is employed by the taxpayers to do an important job, and that is to focus her attention EXCLUSIVELY on her school and its students. Remember, everyone is "waiting for superman" (or superwoman) to fix the schools. HAS Connolly been bringing her dog to the campus on a regular basis since the beginning of the school year? If so, that is not an acceptable nor legal thing to do. If she has been bringing the dog, then common sense tells us that someone on the campus has to care for the animal while Connolly is focused on her duties running the school, and it is the union's job to see to it that such an inappropriate (and illegal) request has not been made to staff. I am a former teacher on the campus, and an experienced labor and employment mediator and arbitrator, as well. I can attest that Mr. Pecoraro has always ably carried out the job he is paid to do, which is to advocate vigorously for the staff he represents. What is the solution? Given the pending lawsuit over the closing of BCHS, which is a troubling question mark hanging over an important fixture in this community, it behooves the judge to request both the Department of Education and the union to appoint a qualified neutral community member to supervise the labor-management relations at that campus, and stop any nonsense before it begins. Now, THAT is "enough said."

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