Archive for the tag 'department of education'

Teacher Alini Brito (r.) was found naked from the waist up with co-worker Cindy Mauro (l.) by a janitor in a James Madison High School classroom in 2009.

Cindy Mauro (left) and Alini Brito (right)

More than three years after being fired for an after-hours sexual tryst in a classroom, a judge has ordered the Department of Education to rehire the two Madison High School teachers who got dirty in the dark.

Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito were fired in December 2010, more than a year after reports surfaced that the two foreign language teachers were caught by a janitor “undressed” in an empty classroom. The teachers have since been fighting for their jobs back, and an appeals court decided that their termination was “shockingly disproportionate,” since both were consenting adults not at the school in an official capacity at the time of the incident.

“The penalty of termination of unemployment is shockingly disproportionate to (their) misconduct,” the Manhattan Appellate Division wrote in their decision. The five-member panel noted that “lesser penalties have been imposed where a teacher had an ongoing relationship or engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student.

Mauro and Brito’s lawyer suggested to the Daily News that they may pursue back pay as well.

Department of Education officials may appeal the decision. If they choose not to, they may still impose less sever penalties against the teachers.

The two were caught undressed in a classroom in 2009 by a janitor. It was later reported that they had a few drinks after school at a local bar, then went back to the school to watch a student performance. At some point, they headed to a darkened classroom and undressed.

At the time, Mauro said she was helping give Brito, who suffers from diabetes, an insulin shot. A state arbitrator later determined that the two were “more likely than not” engaged in a “sexual encounter.”

Source: InsideSchools.org

Source: InsideSchools.org

A Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences (1830 Shore Boulevard) teacher was arrested by police yesterday for bringing an air rifle and a toy handgun into the building, but others say that she had the school’s permission and was busted for bumping heads with the school’s administration.

Latalladi (via LinkedIn)

Latalladi (via LinkedIn)

English teacher Vilma Latalladi, 53, walked into the school lobby carrying the rifle, a replica Red Ryder made famous in the film A Christmas Story, in her hands. A source tells Sheepshead Bites she approached the security desk and Assistant Principal Michael Weinstein to clear the items for a class demonstration. She was given the green-light, and headed to the elevator with two other teachers.

The phony firearms were intended to be used in a lesson plan. Her husband, Rick Luisi, told the Daily News that they’ve got the documentation to prove that she had clearance.

“She was gonna do a lesson a plan — something about talking about violence with the kids,” husband Rick Luisi said Thursday at their family home in the Rockaways. “My wife could take a staple and make it into a lesson plan.”

… “She cleared it with security, she had already gone through security and was in the classroom when they started to make a big deal about it,” Luisi said. “There’s documentation to prove it.”

After police put the teacher in handcuffs, they brought her to Coney Island Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, and charged her with Prohibited Use of a Weapon and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds, according to the NYPD.

But a teacher at the school told Sheepshead Bites that it’s a whole lot of hullabaloo, and an example of mismanagement by the school’s administrator.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the long-time teacher at the school told Sheepshead Bites that Latalladi not only had permission, but was also the one to call the cops.

After heading to the classroom with security’s permission, the guard and assistant principal decided to pay Latalladi a visit.

“She called the police because she thought they were harassing her, and they called because they had to,” the source said.

At least 40 police officers arrived on the scene although the school never went into lockdown, the source said. The NYPD would not confirm whether they received the initial call from Latalladi.

The source said the conflict had deep roots in the relationship between Latalladi and the school’s administration.

“They’ve been butting heads for a while,” the source said. “It’s been an ongoing power struggle between the [Latalladi and Weinstein] where she was observed by the AP a few weeks ago and she wrote a letter to the superintendent saying they were harassing her.”

The source said the problems extend far beyond the one teacher, and that the administration has a record of heavy-handed reprisals.

“This administration is like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. If she was allowed to go upstairs and that was acceptable, then why was she was arrested?” the source said. “My feeling about the administration is that it’s generally heavy-handed. If any teacher did something they didn’t like, they can get her arrested? And he ordered a psychiatric evaluation, which I’m not even sure is legal.”

The teacher also griped about how the administration handled the affair afterwards. They sent a letter home to parents describing the incident, but little else.

“There was no meeting called for the staff [yesterday] afternoon, which would have been the right thing to do. You don’t have to give us the dirty details, but basically say we did A, B and C,” the source said. “My concern is that they did not, in my estimation, follow a protocol that was taking everybody’s safety into account.”

Even the source noted, however, that bringing any form of gun into school was not the wisest decision.

“Why would she bring a gun into school? I can’t even imagine what she was thinking,” said the source. “If a kid makes a threatening gesture like pretending his hand is a gun, he can be suspended from school.”

A call to the school’s principal was not returned by publication. We will update this post if we receive a response.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: With possibly the worst storm of the season, packed with heavy snow, sleet and rain racing up the East Coast, flights were grounded and government offices to the south of the city closed, but late last Wednesday Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education (DOE) decided that public schools would open the following day. Hours earlier, severe winter storm warnings and advisories had been issued from Georgia to Maine, with thousands of school districts closed ahead of the storm’s leading edge. But New York City parents went to bed dazed and confused, because public school students were expected to be in school Thursday morning.

Continue Reading »

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he hopes to create an advisory board for the implementation of the controversial Common Core curriculum and stop standardized testing for children below third grade, drawing sighs of relief from local education activists who have been critical of the rollout.

“Any progress is great progress,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of the District 21′s Community Education Council. “Now more people are talking about it because of Cuomo.”

Fiorica and CEC21 challenged the curriculum’s implementation during a meeting last week, passing a resolution asking the state to slow down the rollout, relieve the testing burden on special needs students and provide more training to teachers and faculty.

In response to the news, Fiorica, who is a parent herself, also said the idea of an advisory panel was promising since it would “bring more awareness” to legislators and politicians and convince them that Common Core needs a few speed bumps.

Common Core is a new curriculum being adopted across the nation, drawing criticism from parents and teachers. It relies on more rigorous standardized testing, and teachers in New York say they have not received proper training or been informed of materials on the test.

“I support the Common Core agenda,” Cuomo said during his budget presentation on Tuesday. “But the way the Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.”

A panel of advisers as Cuomo is now promoting would, presumably, take these things into consideration and recommend “corrective action,” as Cuomo put it, for the new curriculum.

State Senator Marty Golden is also applauding the governor’s plan to change the way Common Core is implemented, and adds that he wants to see an end to standardized testing of children below the third grade.

“I applaud and agree with the Governor’s decision to suspend testing from Kindergarten to 2nd grade, and I am glad to see the Board of Regents concurs,” Golden said in a press release. “The entirety of the Common Core Curriculum must be reviewed, but nevertheless, standardized testing for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders is unnecessary.”

Cuomo said the advisory panel will issue a report before the end of Albany’s legislative session in June.

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

The Community Education Council of School District 21 (CEC21) is challenging the state’s testing and educational policies, voting this week to request the Department of Education “re-evaluate and slow the implementation” of Common Core testing standards.

The council’s resolution argues that the tougher standardized testing requirements of the Common Core curriculum do not meet the individualized needs of students, and leave many students – especially those with special needs – in the dust.

“Each child is different and this approach is very cookie-cutter like,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of CEC21.

They also say that the state bungled implementation, pushing it through too quickly without soliciting feedback or providing training.

Find out more about the issue, and read the resolution.

From a rally to save the school when it faced closure in 2010.

Sheepshead Bay High School, which the city decided to “phase out” at the end of last semester due to poor performance, had the deck stacked against them by Department of Education policies that overloaded them with difficult students.

A new study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform confirms the departments policies of dumping high-needs kids in struggling schools, worsening their chances at success.

The New York Post reports:

The students who don’t participate in the regular high-school selection process — known as “over the counter,” or OTC, students — are likelier to be new immigrants, have special needs, be homeless or have a prior history of behavioral issues.

Yet the DOE knowingly assigned huge numbers of them to dozens of schools that were either already being shuttered for poor performance or that were subsequently approved for closure, the study found.

“Compelling evidence suggests that the DOE’s inequitable assignment of OTC students to struggling high schools reduces the opportunities for success for both the students and their schools,” said Norm Fruchter, an Annenberg associate and one of the study’s authors.

At Sheepshead Bay HS in Brooklyn, the percentage of OTC kids assigned each year grew from 18 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2011 — well above the average for large high schools. After the school’s performance began to suffer, it was approved for closure earlier this year.

The report confirms claims made by Sheepshead Bay High School (3000 Avenue X) supporters that gains they had made in recent years were rapidly undermined by a growing student body of high-needs students, a claim the fell on deaf ears at public hearings over the school closure.

Even with the high rate of OTC students, Sheepshead Bay High School administrators had claimed they had a tremendous success rate at converting those low-performers into achievers, through less traditional means like extra-curricular activities and special programs.

Still, their graduation rates weighed on the rest of the student body, leading to the closure of Sheepshead Bay High School.

forum

A sweeping City Council candidates’ forum hosted by the Manhattan Beach Community Group last Wednesday touched on topics including stop-and-frisk, discretionary funding, and the overhaul of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. But the audience, which included active civic association leaders from around the district, was eager to question the candidates on their plans to wrestle some local control back from City Hall and back into the community.

The Democratic candidates vying to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the 48th District fielded a volley of wonkish questions about Community Board reforms, community-based planning, and a potential dismantling of a city agency that many civic boards fault with turning a blind eye to over-development in the area.

Continue Reading »

Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

For decades a battle has raged between parents, religious leaders and politicians over the question of allowing prayer in schools. Councilman Lew Fidler may have come up with a solution that attempts to bridge the gap between those who believe and those who don’t.

According to CBS New York, Fidler has put forward a resolution that calls for students to observe a mandatory, albeit non-denominational moment of silence, either before or after the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Like most attempts to legislate the behavior of children, Fidler’s idea has split critics and divided parents.

TriBeCa resident Christi Wood spoke to the seemingly benign nature of the proposed resolution. She told CBS New York that she thinks “it’s a good idea. They can kind of think about whatever they want. We live in a crazy, fast-paced city, so a moment of silence, I think it is a good idea. I’d like to have one.”

Julie Antoinette thought the measure was a waste of time.

“I disagree with it. I just think that if they need to have a moment of silence [do it] at their own time. How many hours in a school day? They have 12 other hours to do it on their own private time.”

While a resolution from the City Council can’t force the Department of Education to enact a mandatory moment of silence, Fidler hopes that a near-unanimous council resolution puts pressure on them to do so.

“Hopefully, if it passes the council and it passes unanimously, or close to unanimously, the Department of Education will understand that there is a school of thought out there that believes that this should be policy,” Fidler told CBS.

We were wondering what our readers think of making children observe a mandatory moment of silence everyday at school.

Do you think it’s good for children to have a moment to silently meditate, pray or just relax quietly? Do you think the idea is too rooted in a religious mind-frame and has no place in public schools? Or do you think the idea is just dumb and a waste of time?

Let us know.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Panel for Educational Policy, which has the final say on closing schools in New York City, voted last night to approve plans to phase out and ultimately shutter Sheepshead Bay High School and 21 other schools at the end of this semester.

Much like the closure hearing held earlier this month at Sheepshead Bay High School, opposition at last night’s meeting was thin compared to previous years.

The New York Post notes:

While hundreds of parents and teachers came to protest the move, the meeting wasn’t nearly as volatile as in past years, when thousands packed the auditorium and raucously taunted education officials.

… Before last night’s vote, far fewer elected officials spoke out than usual, the crowd thinned within hours, and even the head of the UFT sent his No. 2.

NY 1 reports that some of that scale down in opposition is because the UFT has “given up” on challenging Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies, and is now looking ahead to the new mayor. NY 1 reports:

This is the fourth year since a state law was revised to require that the panel votes on school closures, but since the majority of the panel is appointed by the mayor, the panel has approved every single one of the DOE’s proposals to date.

Of all of the DOE’s controversial policies, closing schools consistently generates the most vocal push back. Even if the outcome of the final vote is almost certainly assured, thousands of people show up to the meeting every year. Most are teachers, students or parents at the schools that are being closed, but the teachers’ union has also traditionally brought in hundreds of other members to speak out against the policy.

This year, the United Federation of Teachers has not organized a large protest for the first time. The union president said that he has given up trying to work with the current mayor to get anything done and is focused on the next mayor.

As many as 142 schools have been closed of phased out since Bloomberg took office in 2002.

In addition to closing Sheepshead Bay High School, the panel voted to approve the co-location of four new schools, including two charters, on the 3000 Avenue X premises. A “phase out” period in which no new ninth graders would be accepted to the school begins immediately. Current students would be allowed to graduate or transfer out over the next three years, and, beginning this September, a new public high school, two new charter high schools, and a district transfer high school would all be co-located in the same facility.

The charter high schools will both be managed by New Visions for Public Schools, a nonprofit that manages more than 70 schools across the five boroughs.

The deadline to submit your child’s kindergarten application for the 2013-2014 school year is tomorrow. You must apply by this Friday, March 1, 2013. As you finalize your application, please remember the following:
  • Eligibility: All children who turn five years old in 2013 and who live in New York City are eligible to attend kindergarten in September 2013.
  • Applications: You must submit an application in order for your child to attend kindergarten. If you would like to apply to multiple schools, you must submit an application to each school. You must bring two proof of residence documents.
  • Choice Districts: District 1 (Lower East Side), District 7 (South Bronx), and District 23 (Brownsville) are “choice districts.” This means there are no zoned schools in these districts. You can apply to schools in District 1, District 7, and District 23 online, by phone (at 718-935-2009), or in person at an Enrollment Office. For more information about these districts, visit the Kindergarten Admissions website.

Elementary School Directories
Don’t forget to take a look at the 2013-2014 Elementary School Directories to get a better understanding of your options. Available online, each borough’s directory contains information about the kindergarten admissions process, schools located in that borough, district maps, a list of charter schools, and a summary of all public kindergarten programs in New York City. 

Next »