NYC Educational Apartheid

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Too many African American classrooms remain overcrowded; too many students continue to have problems passing regent exams; and, too many continue to face financial challenges toward a good college education.

[On The Spot]


Education or Miseducation?

The best stories ever told are most likely referred to as “History,” which is a large part of the educational curriculum and it should be referred as the, “Truth of the past.” 

Let the truth begin to be taught in the home and pre-school through graduate school.  Let the truth be known to rid the world of its ignorance and hate.

Our children are achieving throughout this city and it does not seem to make the evening news; meanwhile games are being played with mayoral control of the schools.  African American teachers and students are being blindsided when it comes to education. 

We are seeing ethnic groups pitted against African Americans wherever they excel. Schools and educational programs are being high-jacked and administrators responsible for any such achievements are being systematically booted.

Racism is not just Black and White. 

There are many different ethnic groups on American soil today who have reaped and are taking advantage of the American dream; post the Civil Rights era.  Many of these very benefactors do not even know the truth about African Americans who died for the very Civil Rights they so enjoy today.  

Asa Philip Randolph was one of the first major African American labor leaders in the country. He was also a spokesperson for African American rights in the 1940s and 1950s. Today,  he would have been at the forefront of the school that bears his name where teachers of African descent were being removed from the school and fired in record numbers. 

Randolph was one who would have lead a march on Washington, to the Department of Education (DOE), to end these ongoing practices and call for a true accountability of these “Temporary Reassignment Centers,” (TRC).   

This year, a half dozen teachers at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School at City College,  filed lawsuits in the Manhattan Federal District Court alleging, “Racial discrimination, harassment, assault and battery,” against the Department of Education, the principal and assistant principal of the school.

In March 2007, during an evening parent-teachers’ conference, Roger Hartley was assaulted in his classroom at Campus H.S. The assault did not come at the hands of a student, parent or staff member; the assault came at the hands of Principal Henry D. Rubio, who allegedly used a classroom door as a weapon, causing injuries to Hartley’s arm and shoulder. 

“He hit me with the door while students and parents were watching,” Hartley recalls. “I even had a hard time filing a complaint on Rubio at the 26th precinct.”

This is very common with the Police Department; I receive many complaints from people all the time about precincts refusing to take walk-in complaints. The precincts are trying to keep their report stats low. 

“The officer at the precinct did not want to take my complaint and told me it was a union matter. Then he tried to persuade me to resolve the matter with Rubio,” Hartley stated. 

Hartley was able to file the complaint with the assistance of a United Federation of Teachers’ representative, but the charge was downgraded to simple harassment.

Hartley taught Physics and General Science in the New York public schools system for almost 30 years, shaping the minds of thousands of students until he came face to face with the type of racism no one wants to talk about or shed any light on. 

Hartley was assigned to Campus H.S. for the past 12 years. He had tenure and was recognized as a senior teacher and senior licensed teacher in his field. This meant nothing to the powers that be when the decision was made to remove Hartley out of the classroom and put the students’ welfare and education last.

I spoke with Rubio by telephone and asked him about the racial complaints being reported.

“You have to call press relations in the Department of Education.  I have no comment,” was his terse response.  I later learned Rubio is also the First Vice-president of a Dominican organization named Association of Dominican-American Supervisors and Administrators (ADASA) and he also allegedly assaulted an African American female teacher in his office who is not a party to these lawsuits.

After Hartley refused to drop his complaint against Rubio, he was reassigned to the “Temporary Reassignment Center, ” better known as the “Rubber Rooms.”  His salary was unlawfully withheld from October 31, to December 31, 2007.

Rubio sent a letter to Hartley dated December 10, 2007, in response to the March 22nd incident.  “Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including an unsatisfactory rating and disciplinary charges that may lead to your termination,” Rubio wrote.

Thereafter the DOE and UFT began to send Hartley letters threatening him to resign or face termination. On January 5, 2009, Hartley was terminated from the DOE and his union medical coverage was also terminated on the same day by the UFT. 

Hartley filed a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is still being investigated, he says.

These teachers strongly feel nothing has happened to Rubio because of his connection with the High School Superintendent, Francesca Pena, who is also the president of ADASA. 

“We know Rubio did not have the credentials in November 2006, to be a principal at Randolph,” Hartley said. He added that some people believe they are related although Pena said she did not know Rubio.

Phyllis Anderson, a Physical Education teacher for 30 years, who coached the girls Cross-Country and indoor track teams at Campus H.S., was accused of test tampering. 

“During an investigation, Rubio testified about the school’s track team and that I received a ‘U’ or unsatisfactory rating for the school year 2008,” Anderson stated and went on to say, “I have never had an unsatisfactory annual performance rating during my lifetime career as a teacher.” 

Several students were pulled from their classes and questioned about Anderson without their parents being notified. According to the DOE’s own employee data sheet, Anderson has received a satisfactory rating since 2005. 

“I wrote Francesca Pena a letter January 30, 2009.  Mr. Rubio perjured himself twice at the Step 3 Grievance Hearing,” Anderson stated. 

The letter read in part, “.… agreement signed by the DOE and the UFT,” and it states “employee, including a principal, who is found to have knowingly made false allegations against a member will face disciplinary action.”  To date, Rubio has not been disciplined; however, Anderson was removed from the school and sent to the rubber-room on June 18, 2008.   

Dr. Oreoluwa Salau, taught Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics -- to name a few subjects-- and was with the DOE for 12-years before being reassigned to the Rubber-room in May 2008, after being accused of using corporal punishment on a student. 

“I filed a grievance and it was withdrawn without my permission,” Dr. Salau said. Before teaching at Campus H.S., Dr. Salua was a college professor in her homeland of Nigeria, from 1980 to 1995.  “They are trying all types of ways to get tenured teachers out of the system.  In October they are going to suspend teachers without pay. If a tenured teacher would stop fighting, the DOE would drop all charges and let you retire,” Dr. Salua stated. “They just want you out.”

Joyce Stena, a Science teacher has been employed with the DOE for 9 years.  “I had a problem with a female student.  When I was talking with her stepfather at a parent conference, he assaulted me by pushing the desk into me,” Stena stated. The parent was not arrested, and was taken to Rosalie David, the Assistant Principal’s office and escorted out of the school without notifying security.  However, when this very same parent came back to the school and tried to assault a Hispanic teacher, Rubio transferred his daughter the next day.

“I filed a police report at the 26th precinct after being assaulted,” Stena said.  “In 2007, I filed an EEOC complaint about the racism going on in the school.  The Earth Science regent scores has gone down for the past 5 years and the Chemistry regent scores has gone up.  Rubio reduced the Chemistry classes from eleven classes to one class, which affected the slot for two African American teachers,” Stena added and went on to say, “an African American teacher was denied an English post after being out for less than a year, when a Caucasian teacher left the system and went to another state and was able to return and get his math post back.”    

Charles R. Self, 27 years with the DOE as an English teacher, was reassigned to the Rubber-room March 2008 and Glen Peterkin, 16 years with the DOE as a math teacher was removed from Campus H.S., and reassigned to the Rubber-room August 2007. 

The UFT has failed to protect approximately 124 combined years of teaching service and experience, while the DOE just ignored these members’ tenure and years of service – as if they never existed.

Can this be a case of educational economics, where the DOE forces out teachers with tenure and benefits by hiring two more teachers at a lower pay scale? The UFT would lose senior dues paying member but gain by adding two new dues paying members.

Having interviewed these teachers, there should be a loud cry of outrage to expose what happened to them and the record number of African-American teachers and principals in the New York school system’s “Temporary Reassignment Centers.”
Too many African American classrooms remain overcrowded; too many students continue to have problems passing regent exams; and, too many continue to face financial challenges toward a good college education. 

The time for these long overdue ongoing occurrences has run out – let the changing begin.

A spokesperson for Department of Education Chancellor Joel I. Klein did not return my call for a comment.  The UFT President Randi Weingarten, did not return telephone calls and email messages.



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