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The Arrogence of Immunity and the "Resignation" -or Retirement - of NYC DOE Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina
Where a superintendent lives is important, isn't it? Take a look at the newest breaking news story of Peyton Wolcott, and how superintendents are not living where their schools are located.
          
   Lee McCaskill and his New Jersey home   
Editorial:

Teachers and students who attend Brooklyn Technological High School have complained for years about the problems with the leadership of Principal Lee McCaskill.

Chancellor Joel Klein never responded to them, possibly because he feels that he does not have to.

He is not accountable to parents and children in New York City, he is accountable to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the wealthiest, most powerful people in New York City who want to own public school education. We also look at Mr. Klein's nonresponsiveness to the issues presented to him by parents and teachers as the "arrogence of immunity". He knows that there is nothing parents can do to his job or his position, so why not continue to do whatever he wants?

The Mayor and his "people" have the full cooperation of the media and the court system in New York City, and everyone that works for the BOE is immunized (he/she cannot be held legally liable for any actions performed while on the job). An example is here. This is the contract sent to me by accident by the Office of Legal Services that indemnified Anne Pejovich although she was not employed by the NYC DOE when she joined the MS 54 Review Committee to get rid of me for whistleblowing the abuse of minority and special education children at the school. But, the NYC DOE quickly hired her in September 2003 to be the parent coordinator at MS 54, where she works today. It's a good deal if you can get it.

We suggested that Joel Klein take a good look at Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina in the matter of Lee McCaskill:
Protest Against Brooklyn Tech's Principal Dr. Lee D. McCaskill Ends With His Resignation

and,

NYC Deputy Chancellor Rewards Gifted, Privileged Kids in NYC Public Schools by Raising 4 Years of AP Grades

If he did, we have no knowledge of this, as he never responds to any communication we send him, even if we try very hard to be helpful in our exposing of what is really going on in New York City public schools. It seems that somebody did, finally, describe some of the long history behind the issues with Carmen Farina, because yesterday, Mrs. Farina "retired" or, was told to retire. It is entirely possible that someone told our Chancellor that Lee McCaskill's daughter was placed in a highly regarded elementary school in the very same District, District 15, and Region 8, that Mrs. Farina was Superintendent of. We were told by our sources that Mrs. Farina and Mr. McCaskill "are very good friends".

Now, we need our Chancellor to tell us where the $225,000 is, given by the Annenberg Foundation that was given to Carmen Farina's school PS 6 while she was Principal

ETHICS AT THE TOP: DOES WHERE SUPES AND PRINCIPALS LIVE MATTER?
By Peyton Wolcott - April 27, 2006

LiNK

When gossip was circulating at fever pitch a few years ago around Strongsville, Ohio about the affair between cute high school football captain Steve Bradigan and vivacious special ed teacher Christine
Scarlett, Strongsville supe James Gray could truthfully claim he didn't know. How could he? At the end of the school day Gray didn't get into his car and head over to McDonald's or Arby's or the local bowling league or church elders meeting where he would have heard the scuttlebutt.

Instead, he headed for his home in Akron an hour away, an entirely different community with its own unique and pressing needs.

'An arrogance of immunity'

Then there's New York's Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the system's two showcase schools, where standards had slipped since Lee McCaskill took over as principal, exhibiting "a pattern of uneven, sometimes bizarre behavior and decision-making ...that had turned what was once one of America's great
secondary schools into a hellish learning and teaching environment," says Jim Callaghan of The New York Teacher.

"McCaskill, who once addressed a gathering of 120 students as 'dumb a**es,' told an English teacher that he saw no value in teaching Macbeth to high school students, and he canceled one of the most successful Shakespeare programs in the city."

Says Betsy Combier of ParentAdvocates.org, "There's an arrogance of immunity--the administrators here in New York just don't care. Teacher turnover was rampant and no one was happy, but nothing was done about McCaskill until somebody found out he wasn't living in the district or even New York State. He was living in New Jersey."

McCaskill resigned in early February, and deputy chancellor Carmen Farina, McCaskill's immediate boss and mentor, announced her resignation yesterday afternoon.

The Dallas Morning News writes about Peyton:

Scott Parks:
Web watchdog keeps eye on school spenders

Monday, May 8, 2006

LINK

Peyton Wolcott is either a lone voice crying in the wilderness or the vanguard of a revolution sweeping through school districts across America.

I hope it's the latter, but I fear it's the former.

Ms. Wolcott, 59, is an empty-nester who dedicates long days to busting up Education Inc.  her metaphor for school district officials, consultants and companies whose top priority is getting their hands on public money rather than educating kids.

Education Inc. could be operating in each of Dallas County's 15 public school districts. But probably no one would know, according to Ms. Wolcott.

There was a time when communities depended on their elected school boards to be watchdogs over school policies and spending. But the permanent bureaucrats of Education Inc. have defanged them, according to Ms. Wolcott.

Today, in Texas, board members no longer see themselves as independent elected officials who oversee the superintendent. Instead, they believe they have no power as individuals but must function only on "a team," which usually features the superintendent as head coach.

Board members who publicly raise tough questions about school district policies and practices risk being branded as mavericks or micromanagers.

This means that a grass-roots movement of watchdog organizations is needed to fill the void and push parental involvement way beyond bake sales and the PTA, according to Ms. Wolcott.

"The truth is that a lot of parents are afraid to become activists and challenge their school's decision-makers because they fear that school officials will take it out on their kids," she said.

A hundred years ago, Ms. Wolcott would have been ink stained and sweating over a printing press, cranking out broadsheets that ask impertinent questions of powerful people.

Today, however, she swings a more modern publishing hammer  a Web site called www.peyton wolcott.com.

"The point is to clean up the messes that school districts get into," she said.

Ms. Wolcott, wife of a retired Marine, lives in Horseshoe Bay, a Texas Hill Country community northwest of Austin. Her two daughters are grown and out of the house, which has made space for a home office.

Her Web site examines superintendent expense accounts. She writes about those who publicly poor mouth about their district's lack of money and then leave town for junkets at expensive hotels on the taxpayers' dime.

She looks at districts across Texas and the country.

One headline next to a photo of Mick Jagger reads, "Superintendents: The Rock Stars of K-12 public education."

"The superintendents loved that one," she said. "But I was trying to say that we want public servants who are modest and thrifty and who don't stay in four-star hotels just because they can. I don't know about you, but I sure don't consider it my divine right to stay in four-star hotels."

Ms. Wolcott's fascination with back-room shenanigans began innocently enough when she started volunteering at her daughter's high school several years ago.

She wondered why the choir kids had to raise money for their gowns while the school paid for costumes and uniforms for other extracurricular activities.

She asked herself what makes a superintendent attend an out-of-town conference and come back touting an expensive contract for a new program that no one else thought necessary?

She questioned why the school's dress code was enforced so unevenly.

"When you are just a mom and bringing cookies and sandwiches to school, they discount what you say," Ms. Wolcott said.

So, she became a political activist and found like-minded people who also questioned the way things were run at school headquarters.

She helped form a community group that fielded a slate of five candidates for school board. They campaigned on a pledge not to develop personal business ties to the school district they were supposed to be governing in the public interest.

It seemed that incumbent school board members were selling insurance, furniture, appliances and plumbing services to the school district.

Ms. Wolcott's slate won all five seats.

"People did not want to see trustees writing themselves checks anymore," she said. "It was one of those perfect storms that come together behind a powerful idea."

Last February, she unveiled her Web site. It includes her reporting of original stories as well as links to other publications. One set of postings explores whether principals and superintendents should be required to live in the district where they work.

The Web site gives advice about how people can organize to change the things they don't like about their school district. Readers learn about filing open records requests to get more information from secretive school administrators.

My thought is this: Wouldn't it be nice to see more Peyton Wolcotts pop up across the American landscape?

"Most parents are too busy," she said. "Our working moms have horrendous days. But some of us are in a position to do this work. Other than being a wife and mother, it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done."

E-mail sparks@dallasnews.com or call 469-330-5617

 
© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation