Government Lies, Corruption and Mismanagement
Teachers Flee From Specialized High School Bronx Science in New York City to Escape From Principal Valerie Reidy's Intolerable Rule
As predicted by teachers who have been harassed into leaving prestigious Bronx Science in the past , Principal Reidy is a person who apparently should not be in her job, but the NYC BOE stubbornly continues to place children last in their mandate to Leave All Children Behind.
Valerie Reidy, Principal of Bronx Science in New York, may be a shining example of the failure of the new empowerment of Principals under the latest re-organization of the New York City Board of Education. Her teachers, particularly in the English Department of this prestigious high school, are all leaving or are being thrown out. A former chemistry teacher there, Dr. Bob Drake, was thrown out in 2005 for calling Ms - now "Dr." - Reidy a 'quack'. he is now receiving three times his salary at a school out of state. Oh, by the way, he went to another school soon after being forced out by Reidy, and the NYC BOE found out, called his new Principal, and got him terminated. The substitute didn't know chemistry, and blew up the lab. Fortunately no one was hurt. And then there was the issue of the money donated to the school for the Korean language teacher...
Valerie Reidy, Quack Principal
Drake letter on Principals
Bob Drake Given a Final Hearing
Betsy Combier, Editor of Parentadvocates.org., received the information below via email on October 7, 2007:
Mass Exodus of Teachers from Bronx Science: (Forwarded from a current teacher who MUST remain anonymous.)
Approximately 30 teachers have left the once prestigious Bronx High School of Science this year.
Even accounting for retirees, and one or two pregnancies, these numbers are at an unprecedented high. Reasons cited for departures are: interference by Principal Reidy and her sycophantic Assistant Principals in the classroom, lack of professionalism in their treatment of staff, several givings of U ratings to staff who did not kowtow to She Who Must Be Obeyed (i.e., Reidy) in her incompetent, dictatorial and usually incorrect classroom pedagogy. Reidy's abusive treatment of staff was also a factor. Of particular note is the English Department, which lost a previously unheard of EIGHT teachers who complained of dead end protocols and meaningless or incorrect classroom style dictates. Rather than being replaced with seasoned teachers, the replacements are recent grads -- teaching some of the brightest kids in the City. The current English AP is seen as unqualified and incompetent -- a Reidy "yes" person. Agreement with the complaints voiced last year seems evident in the latest walkout. Several of the teachers have since found employment in high-level and high-paying jobs elsewhere.
Teachers who left of their own will, and others ousted by unfair assessments, are voicing a call for a General Amnesty by the Department of Education for all staff members given a U by the Reidy Administration.
And then there is the case of Dr. Bob Drake
PRESS RELEASE • COMMITTEE FOR A BETTER BRONX SCIENCE • 09/16/06
Dr. Drake Gets One Last Chance to Defend Himself Against Quack Principal
Robert F. Drake, a Ph.D. research chemist with 30+ years of college and high school teaching, was, until August 2005, a probationary chemistry teacher at the Bronx High School of Science. After two years of documented satisfactory performance, the principal of Bronx Science, Valerie Reidy, suddenly, starting in September 2004, targeted Dr. Drake for unsatisfactory evaluations. In May 2005, frustrated with Ms. Reidy's lies and insults, and seeing the handwriting on the wall, Dr. Drake stood with supporters on the public sidewalk in front of the school, just before a Parents' Association meeting, and distributed flyers and buttons calling Ms. Reidy a "quack," drawing attention to her inappropriate use of an honorary Ph.D. as well as her support of a discredited teaching method. Her response was tyrannical and swift. Flyers were torn from the fingers of students, supportive students and parents were threatened, and more letters with fabricated charges were placed in Dr. Drake's file, once at the rate of two per day. The resulting "unsatisfactory" year rating, as well as backdated letters from the DOE Region One attorney, let to discontinuance of Dr. Drake's probation in late August 2005, and his placement on a lifelong no-hire list in the City.
Grievances immediately were filed over the letters, but the Bronx Office of the United Federation of Teachers balked at taking them to arbitration, necessitating appeals. Despite successful appeals, the Bronx UFT failed to communicate with Dr. Drake between December 2005 and August 2006 despite his repeated entreaties. In August 2006 Dr. Drake was informed that removal of letters by grievance was no longer permitted under the new DOE-UFT contract—under which Dr. Drake had never worked. (This same contract denied thousands of dollars of back pay to Dr. Drake for the three years he worked without a contract, which was given only to those still employed by the DOE on September 10, 2005.) All earlier appeals had been a waste of time! Then, a discontinuance of probation hearing was scheduled by the DOE for Dr. Drake on October 3, 2006, a date which was stated to be non-negotiable in terms of date, place and time.
Ms. Reidy, Ms. Annelisse Falzone, her science assistant principal, and a representative of the Region One superintendent's office have also been summoned, but they are allowed to "appear" by conference call, whereas Dr. Drake and his witnesses have to take a day or more off from their current jobs to appear in person. One witness has to pay for her own substitutes at a private school in Riverdale to attend the hearing in Brooklyn, and another Riverdale resident in retirement has prior commitments that morning but can attend in the afternoon. The Bronx UFT has already warned Dr. Drake that he should not expect a fair hearing, and that he should expect to meet several times with his UFT representative prior to the hearing.
Dr. Drake is currently teaching chemistry in neighboring Connecticut where the school district is paying him the highest possible salary permitted under their contract, and where he is treated with complete respect. He does not wish to return to NYC to teach, but just wants to get the multitude of Reidy lies out of his file and to remove his name from the no-hire list.
Interestingly, separate from his teaching at Bronx Science, Dr. Drake was hired in August 2004 by the New Teacher Office of the DOE, since disbanded, to teach new science teachers entering the school system that autumn. One of his interviewers, the mother of two Bronx Science graduates, stated that Bronx Science should be glad to have him, given his chemistry Ph.D. and vast teaching experience. At the time Dr. Drake thought he was appreciated—the lies and insults had not yet started. No explanation has ever been offered as to why Ms. Reidy went on the attack.
December 15, 2002
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: BEDFORD PARK; Far From the Podium, A Wrangle Over a Debate Team
By DENNY LEE, NY TIMES
Rafael Kuhn, a junior at the Bronx High School of Science, can champion both sides of affirmative action and sprinkle Marxism into an economics debate. But when it comes to taking sides in a dispute that had plunged the elite debate and speech team into chaos, Mr. Kuhn is stumped. 'There is no clear right or wrong in this situation,' he said. 'Both sides are at fault.'
At issue are the team's volunteer coaches, mostly lawyers who cut their prosecutorial teeth as students at the school. 'It's probably the most successful team, next to the Yankees, in the Bronx,' said Kirby Chin, a corporate lawyer who became the acting director after the team's beloved founder, Richard Sodikow, retired in 1999.
For the last three years, Mr. Chin and others have spent dozens of hours a week, and thousands of dollars out of their own pockets, to keep the team competitive on the national circuit. The team is ranked among the top five in the nation, according to the National Forensic League.
But in fall 2001 differences began to arise between the coaches and the school's new principal, Valerie J. Reidy. During her tenure, coaches say, Ms. Reidy has canceled two debate classes, failed to hire a full-time director, cut the team's budget and refused to return their phone calls. The last straw came last month, the coaches said, when the principal reinstated a speech coach, Sarah Rosenberg, over the objections of the volunteer coaches and some parents.
Late last month, all five volunteer coaches, including Mr. Chin, resigned.
'It was necessary to resign,' said James C. Mallios, a volunteer coach, who graduated from the school in 1992 and is now a trial lawyer. 'I don't want to use the word 'dismantle,' but the administration was making it difficult for us to run the program on a national level.'
School officials defended their actions, saying they were following guidelines. 'What we needed were people who understood and adhered to the directives of the Department of Education,' Ms. Reidy said, 'and were able to work well with all constituencies, including all administrators here.'
Many students sympathized with their coaches, but the abrupt resignations left them struggling to prepare for two big tournaments in Chicago and Philadelphia on the weekend of Nov. 22-24. 'We spent two days trying to get flights, rather than prepping,' said Caitlin Bruce, a junior from Inwood. Her mother, Catherine Bruce, was among several parents who saw the principal's actions as an effort to wrest control of the hundred-member team from the outside coaches.
Ms. Reidy has since restored the debate classes, appointed her assistant principal to run the program and picked four English teachers to coach. The students, however, complain that their new coaches have little experience in either the Lincoln-Douglas or policy debate formats, and are wholly unfamiliar with the inner workings of the rarefied debating circuit.
Still, the students are confident they will succeed, and have already chalked up the controversy as a life experience.
'I've learned how to be political and not to say things that may offend authority,' Ms. Bruce said, with a bit of sarcasm. 'And I've learned that adults don't always resolve their differences constructively.' DENNY LEE