Government Lies, Corruption and Mismanagement
Alyce Barr, Principal From Hell At Brooklyn School For Collaborative Studies In Brooklyn, NY, Suspends Student After Parent Files A Complaint
Alyce Barr considers Wanda Balbot an excellent middle school director, even after she refuses to feed lunch to a student whose mother is outspoken then assaults the girl in the hallway of the school and supends the student for "pushing the teacher in the hallway.". "Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis," by Daniel J. Losen and Russell J. Skiba, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, makes for fascinating and depressing reading. After reviewing over 30 years of data from nearly 10,000 middle schools nationwide, it concludes that suspension is over-used as a disciplinary tool, and that youth of color -- black males especially -- are suspended far out of proportion to their numbers. This is what is happening in the New York City Public School System right now.
I guess the conclusion I would like you to reach after reading the story below is this: if a principal accuses a student of an alleged assault on a staff member, but the video shows that this did not happen, shouldnt the Principal attempt to use the information on the video to resolve the issue rather than lie under oath at the student's Suspension Hearing?
..my conclusion would be: of course.
The New York City Department of Education is a strange entity, however, that refuses to look at a fact in "its face" (I'm making a fact into a thing) if it means that a targeted individual gets free of the harm that the principal wants the person to be victimized by, as nothing, absolutely nothing, must get in the way of the Gotcha Squad goons (SCI, OSI, DOI, OEO) and their foregone results.
It is very easy for Principals to remove anyone from the school they oversee - anyone, meaning any member of the staff or any student. Rubber Rooms for students are the Alternative Education Sites, or Second Opportunity Schools which house unwanted people, students, or whomever the principal wants harmed and/or removed. No evidence of wrong-doing is necessary, as the Superintendent is "permitted" to suspend, discard, remove, get arrested, and alter the life plan or career of anyone the Principal doesnt want. This is, of course, what I call the rubberization process: the involuntary removal of people from their proper environment based upon false charges. When a Principal writes a note for the "Online Occurance Reporting System" (OORS) and sends it to The Monitoring Unit, the principal or assistent principal has the power to write up whatever happened as if either the teacher or the student made the situation happen, and are guilty. Thus whomever the principal wants to target or 'get' is the perpetrator, and the victim is whomever will be bribed, subpoenaed, or told to be a "witness" at the Hearing. It's a set up. One of the problems here is that the absolutely innocent get labelled "guilty" along with the proven guilty, and no one knows who is who. Neither the UFT nor the DOE tries to find out. When I worked for the UFT, the Representatives told me that everyone who had charges filed against him/her was guilty, no questions were asked. As I was hired by Randi Weingarten, then President of the UFT, to look into who the people in the Rubber Rooms were and why they were there, so I wondered what Randi was thinking when she hired me, but this is in the book I am writing.
The "confidential investigators" from the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Special Commissioner for Investigation (SCI) and Office of Employment Opportunity (OEO) all work with whatever "facts" the principal gives them, and the allegations always become the "facts" of the matter that must be "substantiated". The Supervisor at the agency - OSI, SCI, DOE, OEO - involved writes the "substantiation" letter even if the "facts" are not reviewed. At the hearings the CI ("confidential Investigator") usually testifies that all notes have been thrown away. The end result is:
1. Careers of educational staff ruined forever (permanently on the Ineligible/Inquiry List, or Inquiry/No
2. Students with SOHO reports unseen by parents that ruin their school lives with lies and anecdotals
only the Principal and Assistant Principal can write up and make up;
3. Permanent terror throughout the system that "you are next";
4. Physical, emotional, and social scars that alter the course of the lives of all victims;
5. The New York public school system left with unknown numbers of 'guilty' and 'innocent' people, of
all ages, who will never get their rightful remedies because no one will ever know exactly what - or
if - a person is guilty of anything, as there never are properly conducted investigations in any
6. A public school system that is segregated, based on lies, and hanging together by straws.
Whenever anyone gets close to finding out exactly what is going on, he or she is threatened into silence, or harmed into silence. If the first tactic wont work, the second is used.
Notice below that with suspensions, the Gotcha Squad uses SOHO ("Suspensions and Office of Hearing Online") reports to get rid of targeted people. The Rubber Room Gotcha Squad uses Technical Assistance Conference memos (TACs)
"Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis," by Daniel J. Losen and Russell J. Skiba, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, makes for fascinating and depressing reading. After reviewing over 30 years of data from nearly 10,000 middle schools nationwide, it concludes that suspension is over-used as a disciplinary tool, and that youth of color -- black males especially -- are suspended far out of proportion to their numbers.
The authors looked specifically at types of suspensions where school staff could exercise discretion -- incidents of fighting, disruptive behavior, and so on. They analyzed how many youth were suspended and broke down differences by race/ethnicity, and gender. What they learned was appalling: suspension rates have nearly doubled for students of all races/ethnicities since 1973; African American, Latino, and American Indian youth were suspended at higher rates than White youth; six percent of all black students were suspended in 1973, compared with 15 percent in 2006; and a breathtaking 28.3% of black males were suspended in 2006, compared with 10% of White males.
When researchers looked at the 18 largest urban school districts, they found that most "had several schools that suspended more than 50% of a given racial/gender group." They even found schools that suspended more than half of their White and Hispanic female students.
Really? Fifty percent?
Worse, the authors point out that the federal data they used only counts students who've been suspended at least once -- it doesn't actually count the number of suspensions. So their conclusions probably underestimate the frequency of suspensions, and the impact on these students' classroom time (which is linked to their likelihood of dropping out).
You might be shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Well, if it makes the school safer and helps other students learn better ..." Here's what the authors have to say about that:
(D)espite nearly two decades of implementation of zero tolerance disciplinary policies and their application to mundane and non-violent misbehavior, there is no evidence that frequent reliance on removing misbehaving students improves school safety or student behavior.
In fact, frequent use of suspension and expulsion as disciplinary tools doesn't seem to help other students do better:
(E)merging data indicate that schools with higher rates of school suspension and expulsion have poorer outcomes on standardized achievement tests, regardless of the economic level or demographics of their students. It is difficult to argue that disciplinary removals result in improvements to the school learning climate when schools with higher suspension and expulsion rates average lower test scores than do schools with lower suspension and expulsion rates.
Since research suggests that instructional time is strongly related to achievement outcomes, a policy shift is necessary:
It is critical to note that schools with very high suspension rates (e.g., suspending one-third or more of the student body at least once) are not receiving the kind of public attention or regular exposure that schools with low test scores receive.
The disparate impact on youth of color, and black youth in particular, makes this a civil rights issue, the authors say. Here's why:
Research on student behavior, race, and discipline has found no evidence that African-American over-representation in school suspension is due to higher rates of misbehavior (McCarthy and Hoge, 1987; McFadden et al., 1992; Shaw & Braden, 1990; Wu et al., 1982). Skiba et al. (2002) reviewed racial and gender disparities in school punishments in an urban setting, and found that White students were referred to the office significantly more frequently for offenses that appear more capable of objective documentation (e.g., smoking, vandalism, leaving without permission, and obscene language). African-American students, however, were referred more often for disrespect, excessive noise, threat, and loitering - behaviors that would seem to require more subjective judgment on the part of the referring agent. In short, there is no evidence that racial disparities in school discipline can be explained through higher rates of disruption among African-American students.
(See also The New York Times story from September 13, 2010, titled, "Racial Disparity in School Suspensions.")
September 13, 2010
Racial Disparity in School Suspensions
By SAM DILLON, NY TIMES
In many of the nation’s middle schools, black boys were nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls.
School authorities also suspended Hispanic and American Indian middle school students at higher rates than white students, though not at such disproportionate rates as for black children, the study found. Asian students were less likely to be suspended than whites.
The study analyzed four decades of federal Department of Education data on suspensions, with a special focus on figures from 2002 and 2006, that were drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools.
The study, “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization.
The co-authors, Daniel J. Losen, a senior associate at the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Russell Skiba, a professor at Indiana University, said they focused on suspensions from middle schools because recent research had shown that students’ middle school experience was crucial for determining future academic success.
One recent study of 400 incarcerated high school freshmen in Baltimore found that two-thirds had been suspended at least once in middle school.
Federal law requires schools to expel students for weapons possession and incidents involving the most serious safety issues. The authors said they focused on suspensions, which often result from fighting, abusive language and classroom disruptions, because they were a measure that school administrators can apply at their discretion.
Throughout America’s public schools, in kindergarten through high school, the percent of students suspended each year nearly doubled from the early 1970s through 2006, the authors said, an increase that they associate, in part, with the rise of so-called zero-tolerance school discipline policies.
In 1973, on average, 3.7 percent of public school students of all races were suspended at least once. By 2006, that percentage had risen to 6.9 percent.
Both in 1973 and in 2006, black students were suspended at higher rates than whites, but over that period, the gap increased. In 1973, 6 percent of all black students were suspended. In 2006, 15 percent of all blacks were suspended.
Among the students attending one of the 9,220 middle schools in the study sample, 28 percent of black boys and 18 percent of black girls, compared with 10 percent of white boys and 4 percent of white girls, were suspended in 2006, the study found.
The researchers found wide disparities in suspension rates among different city school systems and even among middle schools in the same district.
Using the federal data, they calculated suspension rates for middle school students, broken down by race, in 18 large urban districts.
Two districts showed especially high rates. In Palm Beach County, Fla., and Milwaukee, more than 50 percent of black male middle school students were suspended at least once in 2006, the study showed.
Jennie Dorsey, director of family services in the Milwaukee district, said the district had recognized that its suspension rate was too high and had begun a program aimed at changing students’ behavior without suspensions.
The program has brought only modest reductions in the suspension rate so far, but Ms. Dorsey predicted sharper reductions over several years.
Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County district, disputed the study’s statistics, but acknowledged that “all the data show an unacceptably high number of black students being suspended.” He said the district was using several strategies to reduce suspensions.
From Betsy Combier:
I started representing students k-12 at Superintendent Suspensions in New York City (you do not need a lawyer, and I am not an Attorney), about 9 years ago. A friend of mine gave my name to a friend of hers who had a son in kindergarden with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to protect his disability, which concerned his behavior. He was very smart, though, and hispanic. I agreed to represent him at his Superintendent's Suspension - meaning he was removed from the school and he could not return until the "sentence" was completed at an alternative site. We - the parent, the boy, and I - arrived at the hearing office in the Bronx, 501 Courtlandt Avenue (coincidentally the location of one of the Rubber Rooms), at 8:30AM as required. By 9:30AM the room was filled with black faces, both children and adults. No one had an advocate but the mom who asked for my advocacy, her son, and me.
We were told to go to a room, where the Hearing Officer encouraged the mom to declare "no contest" and her son would go immediately back to school. We refused, as we didnt want his record to be tainted at such a young age, as he did not do what the Principal was accusing him of. The Hearing Officer tried to sell the idea that the boy would go back to school immediately ONLY if she took the deal, basically admitting her son's guilt. This was the "Pre-Hearing".
When we walked into the hearing room I thought it was strange that the hearing office was reading the file supposedly prepared by the principal. We all sat down, and the Principal started talking about the "crime", that this little boy would not stay seated during his classes. She, the Principal, wanted him to be put on drugs. The parent wouldnt do it. And, by the way, the Principal was not a doctor.
The Principal called in a teacher and questioned this teacher about his behavior, which sounded terrible. The parent realized during the testimony that the dates were made up, and they were talking about incidents that did not happen, or that no one ever told her about.
I questioned the teacher next, and she got so confused at the questions that she could not talk. She had forgotten her prepared lies. The little boy went back to school.
But every couple of weeks the Principal would suspend him again. Then one day she, the principal, got so mad at him that she called EMS and had him taken to the Hospital for a psychiatric exam. The mom met the ambulance at the hospital. The doctor who examined him found nothing "psychotic" or unusual, and sent him back to school. The Principal sent the $800 bill to the parent for payment (for the ambulance).
I have continued to provide advocacy for children caught in the web of discrimination and abuse by the very people who are supposed to protect them and guard their safety.
In all the years that I have dont hearings in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, I have never seen a white face. Never.
It is also important to realize that no child with an IEP (who therefore needs service providers or special education) gets to add the information to the reasons for putting them on suspension. Also, no Alternative Learning Center has special education service providers nor do they have any suspension plans in order for the Department of Education to be in compliance with the Federal laws of the US.
For example, last week I was asked to do the Superintendent's Suspension Hearing for "student A" who was accused of yelling at Ms. Wanda Barbot, the Middle School Director at the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies at 610 Henry Street in Brooklyn NY. Alyce Barr is Principal. Student A is African-American.
Student A says that she was assaulted by Ms. Barbot, who told her on December 2, 2011 to clean out her locker. Barbot took away the lock, and told her that she (student A) should take everything with her, as anything left would probably disappear. When Student A started emptying the locker, suddenly Ms. Barbot came back to her and yelled at her that she was late to class. Then Barbot pushed the student, and the video shows this. Barbot can be seen on the video walking away, and the next 5 minutes show that student A remained on the floor with no one around.
Now if Barbot was, as she claimed, pushed twice by Student A, why did she walk away and leave Student A alone in the hallway? Four witnesses heard the shouting, and the girl, student A, was accused of threatening Ms. Barbot. Student A was suspended on December 2, 2011. She was ordered to attend an alternative site until her hearing which takes place on December 21, nineteen days after she was told to leave her school for "pushing Ms. Barbot". Anyone reading the four statements - all of which said something different - and the SOHO report, would believe, as did the Superintendent who determined that student A must be suspended, this student was a danger to the school and other students. Student A has been given no homework at the Suspension Site, and no services as listed on her IEP. She has been dumped, forgotten and neglected by the system.
Yet the mom wrote a letter to the Superintendent on December 1, 2011, the day before the incident, and told her that Ms. Barbot had been targeting her daughter for almost a year. Shockingly, student A has a twin brother in the same class at the same school, who, before the parent wrote her December 1, 2011 letter, never had been given any trouble at all. Then trouble began for him, as well, so that the Principal, Alyce Barr, and Ms. Barbot, could pretend that they were not targeting twin A. It was too late. The word to use here is "retaliation" by the Principal, Alyce Barr, to protect Ms. Wanda Barbot. I am sending an official complaint to be investigated.
The parent asked me to look into this situation, and asked me to post this information on my website, so other parents will begin to see how unfair the suspension process in New York City really is.
I have, of course, written about suspensions before. The scenario is always the same: a student who is either black or hispanic, probably with an IEP (which is worth $25,000+), is accused of something, anything, in order to remove this student from the school so that the administrators can use the federal funds for other children, or their own purposes (office help, for instance). As schools try to work within reduced budgets, the high-priced IEPs are very tempting, and abuse of special education children is rampant throughout New York City.
The Director of the Manhattan Suspension Site is Shirley Rowe, a very pretty African American woman who thrives on the children she can keep out of school and away from the services, homework, and environment that they need. In my opinion she cannot hide her disdain for these children who appear in her offices, and the hearing officers would rather give a year's suspension at an alternative site for a child with a disability than walk on the side of mediation, accommodation, justice. Personally, I dont get it. These people should not be around kids of any age, much less have a responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of any one of the 1 million students in the NYC school system.
The New York City Department of Education also does not want me, an advocate, to do suspension hearings. About 6-7 years ago I asked Michael Best, the NYC DOE General Counsel, to put my name and "parentadvocates" on the list of lawyers and advocates who assist parents with suspension. He refused, saying the list was for lawyers only. (wrong)
Then I started handing out my business card to the parents who came to the Manhattan Suspension hearing Office at West 125th Street. Ms. Rowe sent in her office staff to tell me to come into her office immediately, and when I did go to her office, she told me in no uncertain terms that I could NOT hand out my card in a DOE building. I of course asked why, and she told me that this was not allowed by "policy of the Chancellor". The next day I hired someone to stand downstairs outside of the building with me and hand out flyers that I wrote, telling parents about the suspension procedure and to call me, so that I could talk with them about the hearing process. Two security agents flew down the 3 flights of stairs (the suspension hearing site is not wheelchair accessible) and verbally assaulted us (I remained outside with the person I hired) saying we were forbidden from handing out my information, as the sidewalk belonged to the DOE. I asked where, exactly, the sidewalk belonging to the DOE ended, and I and my assistant stood on the outside of the dividing line. We stayed there, handing out flyers, until the flyers were all gone. The two security guards glared at me from that day on, furious that I thought of a way to challenge them. You must always think on your feet (no pun unintended).
Let me get back to the case of student A and the hearing at the Brooklyn Suspension Hearing. A very friendly lady by the name of Kyndell Reid is the Director, there. She was alarmed to see my press pass, which I always wear when I do a hearing. She told us that "no press is allowed here". I told her I was an advocate who also wrote on my website, not "press" in the "major media" way. At the prehearing and while talking with Ms. Reid in her office the parent and I were not allowed to see the records of Student A because the secret ammunition of the principal, Alyce Barr, is that the SOHO report is false, made up to make sure that student A is placed somewhere that is far away from her brother, the school, homework, her services, and anything that would assure her an appropriate education. Ms. Reid is an enabler. She is in her position to see that kids are suspended out of the public schools of Brooklyn.
On December 21, 2011, we - the parent, Student A, and me - arrived at the Brooklyn Suspension Office (335 Adams Street, 6th Floor) at 9:30AM. The school personnel, Alyce Barr, Wanda Barbot, and Vicky Madden, came in at 11:30. This became a problem later, because the Christmas Party for the office was that afternoon, and I ask alot of questions (we left at 4:45PM).
Ms. Christa Harper was the Attorney who did the Hearing. She looks like an African version of a Nordic Warrior. She asked questions of Ms. Barr, Ms. Barbot, and Vicky Madden. Student A and the parent testified as well. Harper would not allow me nor the parent to see the SOHO report on Student A that was in the file. She also refused to take out of her evidence all the false documentation on Student A that the mom received for the first time that morning, listing many incidents that she had never heard of before.
By the time I finished asking questions of the Principal, Alyce Barr, Barr was holding her head and answered every question with "I dont recall! I dont remember!! She was very distraught. Harper attempted to terrorize me and finally said, "You know, Ms. Combier" all these questions doesnt help the student." I asked questions such as 'what evidence is there besides the video?' 'If the video shows Barbot pushing Student A, how come you are saying that this is not sufficient evidence'? And, 'as Elayna Konstan decreed that student A was suspended based upon the SOHO report, how come the parent never gets to see the SOHO report?' And stuff like that. The DOE says that the information in SOHO about each student in the NYC public school system is an intr-agency document, which the parent can never see.
This all makes no sense.