2014-01-17 / Columnists

School Scope

On PS 106: Maybe Her Absence Is Good
By Norman Scott

The NY Post branding of PS 106 as the “No School – No books, library, gym, etc.” and “The Worst School in the Nation” with a focus on principal Marcella Sills has captured the attention of local and even national media. George Mathis writing from Georgia (blogs.ajc.com/news-tome/ 2014/01/13/report-worst-schoolin u-s-has-no-books/) attacked the Post for its reporting and placed the blame on the Sandy storm and for an unfair attack on Sills. “Where (other than the Post) does it say good principals can’t drive expensive cars or wear animal pelts?” Hmmm. Too bad author Mathis didn’t Google the school or Sills and he would have turned up a trove of articles about Sills and PS 106 in The Wave and on my blog ednotesonline.org from as far back as 2007-08 when Sandy wasn’t even a puddle.

Some local politicians also neglected their Googling, blaming Sandy for conditions at the school. The fact is that almost since the day Sills took over about a decade ago, parents and teachers have been lodging complaints at levels above the school with little response. Sills whose teaching experience was always somewhat of a mystery came out of the principal training ground known as The Leadership Academy, affectionately referred to by teachers working for these grads as stalag training camps where principals are taught how to destroy the lives and careers of teachers while shutting down parent involvement in the school – unless the parents are hand-picked by the principal.

Let’s review the “brilliant” organization structure instituted by NY Post darling, former Chancellor Joel Klein that allowed a Marcella Sills to become an “empowered” principal free to go where she wanted – even show up late to school or not at all, a major charge the Post makes. Klein combined school districts 23 and 19 from Brooklyn with our own District 27 into what became Region 5, headed by Kathy Cashin. Michele Lloyd- Bey has been the Superintendent.

I thought it interesting that reporter Sue Edelman who knows how to Google posted her story two weeks AFTER the Bloomberg administration left the field and wouldn’t have to field questions about PS 106. That was left to new Chancellor Carmen Farina, who the next day sent a team to the school to check it out. BloomKlein and Walcott had no interest when the complaints flowed in the past. It certainly didn’t surprise me that Edelman did not include the way Sills degraded and even destroyed the careers of experienced educators.

In the world of the Rupert Murdoch NY Post that would make Sills a hero and she could drive a Ferrari and wear fur pajamas and that would be OK. Well, Edelman did make this point: “Staffers won’t speak up or even file a grievance with their union because Sills will retaliate.” The union? Someone ask UFT District 27 Rep Marilyn Cooper what she has been doing all these years.

Teachers chimed in with comments on my blog: “As a former teacher at this school.....it's about time that the public knew what was going on. It was obvious to everyone who has worked there that the principal's connections to those in higher places have made things progressively worse. I hope the dam is about to crack at this school. The extent of the problems that have been created by this Principal since she took over were well known by everyone associated with the workings of this school but when those who you think can correct the situation are looking the other way a monster is created. Perhaps now, those who can attest to what has been happening at PS 106 will have their voices heard!”

Another: “Harassment and data fudging for years. Good teachers have been run off and/or ruined and the current teachers who work their butts off work in fear. Teachers do so without any books or any of the CCLS aligned curriculum that was free for NYC schools.”

On my blog I placed the blame on Superintendent Lloyd-Bey which led to this comment: “I am sure the parents spoke up but I'm also sure the district office took up for the principal. I am infuriated that this is happening to our black and brown children. When will real change occur? Norm please keep the spotlight on. I am willing to protest for the removal of ALL superintendents, crazy principals and other powers that be. They are ruining the careers of good teachers as well. You know this is not the only school.”

Even Lloyd-Bey had a defender: “If the parents, and more so, the teachers are not forthcoming now with the investigators – do not seek them out themselves and spill all the beans, then they may be blowing their only chance to get rid of this monster lady. I am thinking that Ms. Lloyd-Bey's hands were tied due to her being given hands off directive. What makes anyone think that teachers are the only ones who are intimidated!! Someone above Ms. Lloyd-Bey is responsible for this one.”

And a parent chimed in: “Ms. Sills has not really cared about students’ wellbeing or academic progress. She has a political hierarchy she has developed to intimidate teachers and parents. Meetings were held by parents to address the over-priced graduation clothes and venue. She assured us she would help those who would not have the money. However she would only help parents that she believed would be an advantage to her. At the graduation of my daughter two years ago she told her graduating class her teacher didn't care about her right in the middle of the ceremony. Children were crying I personally knew the teacher had been very ill and went through radiation and severe changes. She not only did not have empathy for the teacher but she hurt the students’ feelings saying that in front of their peers during her elaborate production. You can't claim to care if you’re capable of hurting children as a means of retaliation. Hopefully things will change soon.”

Hmmm. Exactly who is protecting Sills all these years? Certainly not PETA.

Look for follow up stories on Norm’s blog: ednotesonline where we report how Cashin and Lloyd-Bey tried to bribe a teacher with another job to protect Sills.

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