2014-02-21 / Top Stories

Investigators To PS 106 Principal: Yer Out!

By Miriam Rosenberg

She collected her full salary although she was frequently late or didn’t show up to work at all. Now the Special Commissioner for Investigation (SCI) for the New York City School District has decided the principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway has to go.

On Tuesday SCI issued a 13-page report to school Chancellor Carmen Fariña. It recommended that Marcella Sills, principal of PS 106, be terminated of her employment and be ineligible for further employment with the New York City Department of Education.

The investigation report “Substantiated that Marcella Sills …was frequently late or absent from work, but received her full salary without any time being deducted.”

It was also recommended that appropriate disciplinary action be taken against Assistant Principal Tonya West, who recently resigned.

According to the report, “During the course of the investigation, SCI discovered that PS 106 Assistant Principal Tonya West did not keep records and supplied recently created timecards when asked to produce documentation of her time and attendance.”

The report came to the same conclusion about Sills.

Staff members told investigators Sills would arrive late – usually between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. – or not at all. Sills called that information “inaccurate.” She said that she usually arrived at the school between 7 and 7:30 a.m.

The report also includes details of Sills phoning a custodial employee before she would arrive whereby he would let her in through a side door of the school. Telephone records from the last year substantiated this allegation.

During the investigation School Aide Lalita Singh confirmed what many had been saying throughout Sill’s tenure at the school – that an atmosphere of fear existed.

Singh told investigators “Everyone was nervous to speak. They were afraid of being pushed out.”

On Wednesday morning Councilman Donovan Richards held a press conference outside the school. He was joined by Dr. Ed Williams of the Rockaway NAACP and William McDonald, an education advocate for Southeast Queens.

“If anyone responsible for ensuring our children’s success short changes them or stands in the way of their progress – they don’t deserve to receive a paycheck, nor work in a school building; let alone lead an educational institution.”

Pointing out that the school has received A’s and Bs Richards said, “I only wonder how much better they would have done if the leadership of this school showed up everyday on time or showed up at all.”

DOE spokesman Devon Puglia said, “The findings of this report are disturbing, and we plan on executing SCI’s recommendations. As we do that we are going to continue to support this school as much as possible going forward.”

Sills has reportedly been transferred out of PS 106 and reassigned. Charges are pending. There is no word if former Assistant Principal West will face any charges.

SCI findings have been forwarded to the Office of Legal Services, the New York State Education Department and the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Sills did not reply to an email requesting comment for this story. Channel 2 News has reported that Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon said that Sills denies all charges in the report.

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