2011-04-22 / Top Stories

School Staff Charges Class Coverup

By Howard Schwach

Staff members of a Far Rockaway middle school that once had an A report card grade but has sunk to a low C, charge that the school’s new principal is playing fast and lose with school resources.

Records show that Middle School 53 on Nameoke Street received a rating of 96.5 and an A on its 2009 school report card, reporting that more than 60 percent of its students were reading on grade level.

In 2010, however, the school received a 39.6 grade, with a letter grade of C. Records show that less than 20 percent of the students were actually reading on grade level.

Shortly thereafter, its longtime principal, Claude Monreau, retired and a new principal took over.

Staff members, all of whom asked not to be identified because they fear retribution, told The Wave last week that even though the school was “terrible” under Monreau, it is far worse under its new principal, Jacqueline Boswell.

In fact, they claim that Boswell has brought some borderline ethics to the troubled school.

In a letter to District 27 Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bay, a copy of which was made available to The Wave, the staff members charge Boswell with bringing in a longtime friend and assistant principal to the school on a part-time basis, and paying him for “walking around and not doing much.”

In addition, they claim that another staff member, whose name The Wave is withholding because it cannot corroborate the charge that she is scheduled to cover a class that does not exist, has been put on the school program as the teacher of Class 791, when, in fact, there is no Class 791. Or, at least there are no students assiged to the class.

They charge that the person assigned to that class is given alternative, out of the classroom duties each day, which amounts to providing a compensatory position that was never posted and never made available to other staff members – something that is against the union contract and the chancellor’s regulations.

“Class 791 does not exist,” the letter to Lloyd-Bay says. “But on the program sheets since September, it has been covered by ________. She does not have class 791, because it does not exist. She is exempt from coverages. She works instead for an AP. This is outrageous and illegal.”

“Isn’t it time somebody gave some attention to what is going on in this school,” the letter asked.

As of press time, the letter-writers have received no answers.

Margie Feinberg, a longtime spokesperson for the Department of Education, said late last week that she checked and found that while Class 791 does exist only on paper and that there are no students assigned to the class, “there is no teacher assigned to that program.”

She argued that the class has no students because the expected special education students there were to fill the class were never assigned to the school.”

Staff members, however, say that a teacher is assigned to the phantom class, giving that teacher the day free to work for the principal and the assistant principal.

Calls to the school went unanswered and The Wave was refused access to the school program.

Calls to the District 27 office were referred to the Department of Education for comment.

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