2012-06-01 / Top Stories

DOE: Rockaway Principals Are Rated A-OK

By Howard Schwach

Far Rockaway High School has been closed since last June, the victim of the New York City Department of Education and its insistence that the school was a failure because of “persistent educational failure.”

Yet the school’s former principal, Denise Hallett somehow, “substantially exceeds standards,” according to a report recently released to the New York Times under a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

The report, the agency’s ratings of each of New York City’s principals, shows several anomalies, not the least being that there are schools that have been closed and fifty percent of their teachers excessed where the principal is rated in this report as doing a fine job.

In fact, in a system where schools can getaDorFratingandwhereteachers canbefiredforgettingaUrating,principals cannot fail.

The lowest ranking a principal can get is “partially meet standards,” and, according to a DOE official, that is not a failing grade, just a notification that the principal needs more training.

Of the 23 Rockaway principals rated for last year, only one, Jacqueline Boswell of Intermediate School 53 in Far Rockaway, got that lowest rating.

Five more were rated as “meets standards,” eleven as “exceeding standards,” and seven as “substantially exceeding standards.”

Several of those who received “meets standards” and “exceeds standards” are the leaders of schools that received Cs and Ds on the most recent school report cards.

In fact, Tammy Halloway, the principal of PS 225 in Rockaway Park, was rated as substantially exceeding standards at the same time her school was closed and replaced by two other schools.

Many of the PS 225 teachers, however, are still looking for long-term positions in other schools.

“This is the way the DOE uses accountability,” said one teacher who was excessed from a Rockaway school and now is on the teacher reserve list and must seek day to day work and therefore asked not to be identified. “They want the teachers to be accountable for test scores, but neither the supervisors nor the parents are held accountable in any way.

“It’s like the principals have nothing to do with the success or failure of the school, and we all know that is not the case.

“When they close a school, half of the teachers are excessed and the others must reapply for their jobs. But in most cases, the principals and their assistants are kept in place.

“Same administrators, same kids, same results, but the teachers are gone.”

DOE officials, however, justify the ratings.

“Administrators have different outcomes than teachers,” an official said. “While teachers are rated largely on student outcomes and administrative observations, principals are rated on how well they run the school, their budgeting skills and such.”

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