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New York City Board of Education Reports That Principal Shango Blake Misused School Funds and Punched a Student
Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon's military has once again randomly selected a Principal to be brought down, this time it is Shango Blake, African-American Principal of IS 109. We are updating our story of July 2006 with the new information, but still question the random and arbitrary practices of the Department of Investigations.
IS 109 Principal Shango Blake is about to be fired for beating a student and for misuse of school food money. We did a story on him a year ago, and we have spoken to parents at the school about Mr. Blake, and records show that this Principal did not do the job he was hired to do. But his actions are similar to many other Principals' actions who work in New York City, but happen to be white - as in the case of Dr. Elana Elster, a woman known to throw black kids out of Booker T. Washington MS 54 for no reason. Is there a secret racial agenda here, Mr. Joel Klein?

By the way, Inside Schools is an organization that does public relations work for the NYC BOE. Clara Hemphill's books on The Best Middle Schools of New York City, (New York City's Best Public Middle Schools, Second Edition by Clara Hemphill, with Deborah Apsel, Marcia Biederman and Jacqueline Wayans, Teachers College Press, 2004) reports that the Delta Honors Program inside Booker T. Washington MS 54 is a "school" when it isn't. Never has been. The misnaming of the Delta PROGRAM into a SCHOOL provides the NYC BOE with an excellent coverup of the racial discrimination of white Principal Dr. Elana Elster against the mostly all minority children attending Booker T. in the other programs in the school, under her supervision as the only Principal. The Delta Program students are white.


August 14, 2007 -- A flamboyant Queens principal who has been hailed by Chancellor Joel Klein once used students' lunch money to help foot the bill for limos to the premiere of a school-produced rap video, investigators charged yesterday.

School probers said the funds were among more than $30,000 misappropriated by Shango Blake, the four-year principal of IS 109.

Blake, 37, of Queens, allegedly misused funds he had collected from students and parents for school lunches, snacks and graduation expenses between May 2005 and June 2006.

"Shango Blake's financial mismanagement and inappropriate conduct makes it clear that he has no place in New York City public schools," concluded the report by the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation.

The report found that even as the school was accumulating more than $18,000 in debts to the Office of School Food, its treasurer was handing Blake up to $600 in cash per week to pay various other expenses. There is no indication he used any of the funds for himself.

When education officials asked Blake about the lack of payments, he reportedly said he had spent money on limousines to shuttle students to the premiere of the hip-hop video, "Tuck That Shirt In."

The video was screened at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.

Investigators found nearly $11,500 in expenses tied to that school digital production, as well as another.

Department of Education spokeswoman Dina Paul Parks said the agency was taking steps to ax Blake.

Reached by phone, Blake's wife declined to comment.

Officials also charge that the principal is a bully.

Blake, who was once cited by Klein for improving school safety, punched, choked and threatened a 13-year-old student last year for making remarks about his son, who also attended IS 109, officials said.

According to the report, the unidentified student told investigators that after being confronted by Blake about a discipline problem, he made a passing remark about Blake's son that set the principal off.

The student claimed that in the presence of two school employees, Blake threw him against a radiator and threatened to break his neck if he mentioned his son again.

When Blake challenged him to repeat the remark, the student did - leading Blake to punch him in the chest three times, grab his neck and choke him, the student said. While Blake and the two employees refuted the student's version of events, investigators found witnesses who corroborated the account.

Additional reporting by John Mazor and Erin Calabrese

Pols rally for IS 109 head Blake
By Howard Koplowitz,

Community and education leaders Saturday came to the defense of embattled IS 109 Principal Shango Blake, whom the city Department of Education is moving to fire after investigators found that he misused $30,000 and allegedly choked and punched a student.
At Queens Borough Hall, scores of supporters rallied for Blake to keep his job at the Queens Village middle school, citing his record in turning the school around to make it the highest-performing middle school in District 29 after he became its principal in 2003.

Among those backing Blake were state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica), City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and members of Community District Education Council 29, which covers IS 109.

A report by the DOE's Special Commissioner of Investigation found that Blake misused $30,000 in funds from lunch money and other items collected over a two-year period from students that was supposed to be sent to the department's Office of School Food.

The report's findings were referred to the Queens DA's office for review.

Blake eventually paid back the debt, the report said, but investigators were not able to determine the source of that money.

When School Food repeatedly asked Blake for the money the school owed, the report said the principal maintained IS 109 did not have the money because he had to pay for limousines to take students to the York College premiere of their DVD "Tuck That Shirt In," a rap video about a dress code Blake instituted at the school when he became principal.

Angela Moore, the PTA president of IS 109, called the report "misleading and disgraceful" because Blake did not use the money for personal use.

She said IS 109 is the top intermediate school in the district, where more than 60 percent of students passed the state math test and more than half passed the English Language Arts exam.

Moore said Blake was the victim of a "vicious, malice, smear campaign" by Richard Condon, the special commissioner.

Comrie also defended Blake, citing his success in turning the school around.

"Principal Shango Blake has been the most effective middle school principal in District 29," Comrie said.

He criticized the section of the report that found Blake choked and punched a student who made a remark about the principal's son because, Comrie said, the findings "ignored" the testimony of witnesses from the school and there was never a report of the incident filed with the police, 311, or Children's Services.

"This is wrong," Comrie said. "This clearly stinks. ... We need Shango Blake at 109."

Huntley claimed Blake had been unfairly targeted by the DOE regarding the misuse of funds.

"It is not a misappropriation," she said, because Blake did not use the money for himself.

James McIntosh, the co-chairman of the Queens-based Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, charged that the DOE's findings were based on the fact that Blake is an African-American.

"The motivation clearly is just outright racism," he said, calling the special commissioner "Ku Klux Condon."

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Queens Village Principal Sued
by Theresa Juva , Assistant Editor

Although he has the support of elected officials and parents in Southeast Queens, scandal-scarred Principal Shango Blake’s problems are far from over.

This week the I.S. 109 principal is being sued by Ashua Martin, a 14-year-old former student, who claims Blake choked and punched him in June 2006.

Last month, the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation released a report that found Blake mismanaged school funds and allegedly choked and punched Ashua in a school office. The report findings provoked School Chancellor Joel Klein to begin termination proceedings, though Blake has not been officially fired and is waiting for a final hearing.

According to the report, on June 26 of last year, Ashua was called into Blake’s office after Ashua cursed into the cafeteria’s microphone.
Witnesses claim that the student was in Blake’s office when Blake allegedly said, “if you threaten my son, I’ll break your neck.” A short time later, Ashua left the office and witnesses observed fingernail marks and redness on the student’s neck.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said a resolution to Blake’s case may take months or even years because he is tenured.
She added that the department does not comment on pending lawsuits and said it is considered separate from the termination proceedings.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation