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New York City MS 226 Principal Rushell White is the Worst Principal in The City by Betsy Combier
Rushell White does not support her staff, she targets people for no reason, changes grades of students to make her school look good to the public, accepts money without being held accountable for where it is being spent, and ignores the safety rules to bully her staff into doing what she says no matter what the consequences for the students and employees. For example, Ms. White ordered her AP to do an observation of a teacher, and during this observation, with a full class of students in the classroom, the fire alarm went off. As the AP was afraid of Ms. White and what White would do if the observation was not finished, the AP would not allow anyone, the teacher or the students, to leave the room, saying it was simply a drill. The teacher frantically sent emails out begging someone to come and help her, all in vain. In fact, it was a real fire alarm and there was a real fire.
   MS 226 Principal Rushell White   
Rushell White does not support her staff, she targets people for no reason, changes grades of students to make her school look good to the public, accepts money without being held accountable for where it is being spent, and ignores the safety rules to bully her staff into doing what she says no matter what the consequences for the students and employees. For example, Ms. White ordered her AP to do an observation of a teacher, and during this observation, with a full class of students in the classroom, the fire alarm went off. As the AP was afraid of Ms. White and what White would do if the observation was not finished, the AP would not allow anyone, the teacher or the students, to leave the room, saying it was simply a drill. The teacher frantically sent emails out begging someone to come and help her, all in vain. In fact, it was a real fire alarm and there was a real fire.

We know how this process works/does not work. See the article I wrote about the Rubber Room process and Gotcha Squad, based upon a case I helped teacher David Suker appeal and win in the NY State Supreme Court:

The New York City Rubber Room Anti-Teacher Charging Process Shows How Corrupt the Carmen Farina-Bill De Blasio Department of Education Really Is. by Betsy Combier

However Principal White's harassment of AP David Possner is particularly obscene. But, I was lucky to be hired by David to work with stellar Attorney Roger Adler, and we won David's Article 78 lawsuit in which he argued for the overturning of his unsatisfactory rating in 2014-2015. Judge Freed agreed, and her decision is right on the money.


When David recommended that I assist a teacher in his school at her 3020-a arbitration hearing, I agreed, and we used David Possner's information about Rushell White, her statements to her staff and students, to win the case.

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Making the School Look Good Through Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment
NYC Rubber Room Reporter, 7/17/16,
by Betsy Combier, Editor

Thanks to former and present educators at the school, some of whom must remain nameless for the time being, and all those former staff members at MS 226 - Zev Angelou, Paul March, Claudia Bethea, Francine Davis, and to the two teachers who hired me to be the paralegal for their 3020-a cases, thank you.

I was fortunate enough to have been hired as a paralegal by several teachers as well as the Assistant Principal, David Possner, in their search for justice after Rushell White targeted them without justification.

David Possner
I am fascinated by this story because I see deliberate and reckless harassment of the staff and employees at her school, MS 226 in Queens, NY; verbal abuse; unfair labor and employment practices; and just plain unethical behavior by New York City's worst principal, Rushell White. Teachers and Assistant Principals at the school currently or in the past are talking about Ms. White in terms of being a "pathological liar", that she "hates jews", is "vindictive", a "bully", and a person unaccountable to anyone for her actions and knows she can get away with it. In 2015 the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) shocked NYC educators and policy makers - who were and are aware of her antics - by appointing Rushell White to their Executive Board. This was clearly a politically motivated appointment which screamed inappropriateness, especially since Rushell White has been named in three lawsuits: Jane Seidemann, David Possner, and Mary Harris. There are more to come.

Rushell White is a liability for the New York City Department of Education, and they should immediately suspend her and charge her with discrimination, fraud, and endangering the health, safety and welfare of the teaching staff and children at MS 226. The NYC DOE Office of Legal Affairs then would have a precedent setting case where staff members of MS 226 who have been wrongfully attacked by Rushell White would testify against her. I would like to watch that hearing.

The money

Students have reported seeing her coming out of a building early in the morning with Ruben Wills, a District 28 Council Member - who is married to someone else, his wife Marcia.

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Checks From Ruben Wills

Money is flowing into MS226 (District 27) from New York City Councilman Ruben Wills. Where is this money coming from and where is it being used? Councilmember Wills was indicted for grand larceny and fraud in 2014, and has given Rushell more than $1 million for her school.

Why is JHS 226 Principal Rushell White Still in Her Position Despite Documented Wrong-Doing? (March 19, 2016)

I am completely shocked by the arrogance of immunity I have seen from Rushell White and her cloned, dedicated-to-her-dominance APs, minus one, David Possner. David has bravely stood up against her abuse and harassment of staff, and welcomed the media who can, and have published, the acts of abuse of students and discrimination which will, I guarantee, will be the undoing of Rushell White:

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Making the School Look Good Through Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment

Queens principal greets visitors with checks from disgraced pol

DOE Investigating Claims of Abuse at JHS 226: Report

The Harassment by Rushell White of staff and students

Principal White wants to create the most hostile workplace she can, to teach her opponents a lesson: you could be next if you oppose me in any way.

Former chapter leader Zev Angelou was subpoenaed to testify at the 3020-a of teacher Clairesa Clay (who hired me to be the paralegal at her 3020-a hearing), and he blew away everyone with his credible, strong, and truthful testimony about the "real" Rushell White. His description of her included words such as "bully" "pathological liar"

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Calls Assistant Principal David Possner a "Bad Jew" (Nov. 8, 2015)

DOE Investigating Claims of Abuse at JHS 226: Report

Rushell White called MS 226 Assistant Principal David Possner "a bad jew". Is this not reason to remove her from the school? Or, to allow David a transfer from the school? No and No.

EXCLUSIVE: School painting that shows Queens principal as Hindu goddess sparks outrage

EXCLUSIVE: Queens school staff want principal booted for bias toward older teacher, Hindu goddess portrait

Queens school staffers want principal removed over Hindu goddess mural

Ms. White, we know now, orders her subordinates to observe her teachers and rate them "Developing" or "Ineffective" (basically the same thing) no matter what the teacher does in the classroom. The ratings given for the observations - which are 95% of the 60% of the HEDI - determine your end of year APPR, and under Rushell White's control, all ratings are not truthful and not based on the performance or merits of the teaching. Rushell tells her APs to rate her staff according to whether or not she likes the person or not. And, if you dare to challenge Rushell White, you know that you will pay dearly for the insubordination.

Ignoring Student Safety and Welfare

Rushell White has, so far, been "getting away with" many actions against staff and students:

Queens school being investigated for alleged abuse against students
Queens school eyed for cheating on state exams

The fire incident on June 6, 2014.

Outside of a classroom on June 6, 2014, AP David Possner put out a real fire. The entire school was evacuated except for one classroom. The fire department showed up, the fire alarms had gone off, but AP Jennifer Shirley had been told by Rushell White to do an observation, so Ms. Shirley ignored the alarm, and refused to allow the teacher or the children to leave the classroom. Shirley told everyone that she was so afraid of what could happen to her later if Ms. White found out she had not finished the observation, that she forced all the students and the teacher to continue, as if there were no alarms going off. Shirley told everyone to sit back down during the fire drill. She finished the observation after she turned off her walkie-talkie. They all found out later that there had been a real fire. The teacher sent text messages to the staff asking why she was not allowed to leave.

That's how much fear exists at MS226....enough to harm the children and staff.

Then there is a chapter leader, Mr.Merganthaler , who reported Rushell White for causing sixth grade teachers to cheat on the exam.
That was in the newspaper, and Ms. White was very upset about that. So she started giving him unsatisfactory ratings and writing him up, and it came to a head with the Union and their making a deal where he would be moved to another relocation, because he had three years left before he could retire. The deal was that he could work the rest of his time at the DOE in another school, but he would remain on Ms. White's payroll. He was being harassed by Ms.White too badly for him to stay at MS 226.

In 2013-2014 Rushell White was putting 40-60 students in the SAVE room on a daily basis. Zev testified that as only a substitute teacher was in the room, no one wanted to go in there, it just was not safe. Zev testified about the discipline policy that does not exist:

And she said
"we've had no fights. And I said, Ms. White, I was punched repeatedly in a hallway. How could you say there were no fights? Me personally that you never reported. That was reported to Ms. White, Ms. Cohen, Ms. Shirley, and Ms. Adams. They never reported it.
That was stated at a meeting when I was with my District rep., when I told her I was just punched five times by a student.
Therefore, that student, I found out later on, wasn't in detention. No one ever called home. We had incidents where I had to report to Ms. White. A child just threw a four and a half inch knife at another student. Blocked it with his bag. And that child was never reprimanded. And not only that, the child that almost was killed, they never called his house. All these things are being squashed. All of them. Fights, repeated fights. Violence. Violence against me. Verbal abuse. None of these things are being reported. How can a teacher conduct a classroom confidently and securely if they're feeling like they're not in a hostile environment when there's nothing being done? Again, I have, again, --
[00:01] environment leads to people having problems in the classroom."

When asked why she kept my client in her full teaching schedule - never suspended with pay (rubber roomed) - until the end of the school year June 30 2016, way after her 3020-a hearing was finished, Rushell White testified, words to the effect of "I could not find a replacement". The day after my client was served her charges for 3020-a, AP Michelle Cohen handed her an update on her Teacher Improvement Plan saying she had improved; on the last day of the school year the Peer Validator handed over a rating of "Highly Effective".

In sum, Rushell White is now a liability for the business, the DOE public school system. She has allowed her personal views to intercede in the work of the business, and the reports on her abusive actions toward her staff are out in the public eye. CSA and the DOE have to wait until all the outrage about the mural subsides, so that they dont have to be embarrassed by their mistake of recently putting Rushell White on the CSA Executive Board. The DOE hates when any event or person makes them look bad. She must go.

David was subpoenaed by the DOE to come in to the 3020-s for my client, a teacher still teaching her regular full schedule, and he was nervous about speaking about Rushell White and her actions. So we gave him a subpoena to come in for us. Then he talked. He also told me about how the DOE attorney in this case, Gotcha Squad member Ian Nikol, one of the most verbally insulting attorneys I have ever heard during my 13 years in 3020-a hearings, arranged for Ms. White and all the APs - including David Possner - to meet together to go over what they would do at the hearing. Ian described me as a blogger, and I should be totally ignored while in the hearing room. He told the group that I knew all about the DOE and everything they do, so watch out. Thanks Ian!!! I am honored by your compliment. Ian left the DOE or was fired during the hearing, and we were given a new DOE attorney as his replacement. Good luck on your new assignment at the Department of Corrections. We will miss you (I honestly do not mean that).

Zev Angelou, the former chapter leader, came in to testify looking like Harrison Ford in the movie Indiana Jones. He was magnificent, testifying that Rushell White is "a pathological liar" who forces her APs to rate teachers as ineffective for no reason, or their jobs as APs are on the line. Rushell White makes up things as she goes, and is very vindictive. He transferred to another school. His new school is very lucky to have him, in my opinion.

I spoke at length with Francine Davis, a teacher for almost 49 years and who retired in time to save her pristine, stellar record. She told me that Rushell White was desperate to get into the "Principal's Society" at CSA, and told Fran, and several others that Rushell had paid for them to attend an event put on by the CSA for potential nominees. They went, and were stopped at the door where they were told that the $84.00 per person was not paid, and they had to leave. After this, Fran was accused of stealing state tests. AP Jennifer Shirley was in charge of the testing. Fran was found to be not guilty of the charge, but the damage was done. Fran retired.

Claudia Bethea, the parent coordinator, always took her job seriously. She was there for the kids. She paid for prom clothes, and she told the truth. She was fired by Rushell White who knew that Claudia and Fran were friends. Claudia told me that Ms. White said to her:
"You are worthless...Jamaican people [Rushell White is Jamaican] are better than black people...Jamaican people spell better and speak better than black people". [Claudia Bethea is 'black'].

I usually get between 4-9 witnesses to testify for the Respondent, but several people who initially spoke with me backed out from coming to the 3020-a, despite the fact that they were given subpoenas. So, we asked the Arbitrator, Michael Capone, to please stop Rushell White from retaliating against anyone at MS 226 who testified in our case against her.

Then, a few days after David gave his outstanding information about how Rushell treats her staff, he saw that a mural had been painted and placed onto the wall of Ms 226.

MS 226 Assistant Principal David Possner, who has just been awarded the "A For Accountability Award" by my non-profit, E-Accountability Foundation, sued in State Court asking to transfer out after Rushell White Called him a "bad" Jew. Transferring would have been the solution to everyone's problem, hers because she dislikes people who do not do whatever hurtful thing she orders, and his, because he knew that he was doing an excellent job for the school but nothing mattered, as Rushell White could only see her hatred for him.

If a plane suddenly crashed through the roof of the school Rushell White would blame it on David, that's what she does.

As I wrote in a prior post, Rushell White, a member of the CSA Executive Board, has the support of City Council Member Ruben Wills, and believes she is untouchable by anyone who does not like her for any reason. Ruben Wills has his own demons.

Rampaging teens caught on camera AGAIN flooding Queens neighborhood after school

Local business owners say mobs of out of control teens reek havoc everyday after school.

To understand why the Principal's Union (CSA) and the NYC Department of Education (DOE) allow Rushell White and other principals to "get away" with abusive acts you first have to change the definition of what a "good" principal is.

We no longer can call a principal "good" who is warm and fuzzy, treats staff as colleagues, overlooks errors of judgment if no one is harmed, doesn't sweat the small stuff, and values a school environment which is friendly, where life is in balance with the universe. You love going to work in that place.

Those days are over, at least for now.

What the reality is now, is that every employee, no matter how excellent, is a cog in a wheel, a member of the assembly line to get the widgets finished in a timely fashion, any way possible. If an employee misses a day at work, that's not good, but misses a friday and/or monday? Intolerable. While the UFT Collective Bargaining Agreement permits 10 days for absences a year, most principals will find a way to put a letter into your file for taking those 10 days, even if you are in surgery in a hospital. Eleven days? That's "excessive", and 3020-a charges can be filed. The business, they say, has suffered. (A good defense is: "how?" "how much?" "what are the numbers?"-ed)

Harmed on the job? You dont need LODI (line of duty) relief, you need a replacement. You are damaged goods, and possibly a liability for the business, supposedly educating students. You must be terminated. This is why so many people are observed the first day back and given a "U" or "Ineffective". The business of education cannot wait for you or anyone to become well.

Bereavement? Two days. Five if you are good at arguing for them. Nevertheless, while you are grieving a loss of a loved one, a plot will be created to get rid of you. You are damaged goods and possibly a liability for the business.

A parent becomes upset because you said/did something horrible to their little angel? Nothing matters except that a parent has complained, and there is no one at any agency who will investigate anything you say. Any facts you have will have to wait for the arbitrator at the 3020-a to which you will be forced into going. The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) does not investigate students, only employees. (I investigate what the facts are, and present at 3020-a! Promise!) . Nonetheless, you should fill out the form to report the incident, but any assaults should also be immediately reported to the police. Do not ask for permission from the principal. Just do it and tell the principal after it is done.

The principals' job is to get rid of the riffraff - anyone on the staff who messes with the business machine driving the profits, or with graduation for students who never appeared in class. Fudging grades works.

School principals continue to do whatever helps the business, because they know that they are supported by the CSA and the DOE no matter what they do, as long as the business rolls along in a profitable way. For example: when a staff member becomes "old" - anyone over 40 years of age - a plot is created for getting these people removed, because senior teachers' salaries are high, and thus a burden on the school budget. Unfortunately due to the prohibition for senior teachers to transfer, the only way to get a teacher out of the building is to charge them with 3020-a charges. If the teacher charged receives any penalty (he/she is not totally exonerated), this person will become an ATR, and will not go back to the school at which he/she was charged.

This automatic "become an ATR" stuff began relatively recently, I asked Attorneys for the DOE doing 3020-a prosecution why this so-called "policy" was absolute. Because, they told me, "that's the way it is". Don't you hate that answer? what does that mean?

Back at MS 226, all is certainly not ok. Good people are gone, but Rushell White stays. How is this fiscally responsible, Chancellor Farina? Has public policy and the health, safety and welfare of children been ignored?

I certainly believe so.

Stay tuned.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation