SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Education Police State Comes to Rye NY

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Education Police State Comes to Rye NY

Rye, NY. A leafy city of about 15,000 hard by the Long Island Sound. The home of Playland, BJ Surhoff, and Wellington Mara. A city in which education is taken seriously by the community. Who would have thought that the police state of education would find it's way into Rye?

In May of 2013, 4 teachers were accused of "improper coaching" during state exams that April to a small group of students according to the Rye Patch. These four teachers then were removed from the classrooms and put on the Rye version of the Rubber Room.

Since then, the Westchester County District Attorney has investigated and found insufficient evidence to proceed.  One teacher, Shannon Gold a 4th grade teacher at Milton Elementary has resigned with neither party admitting wrongdoing. One teacher, Gail Topol, returned to school under what some are claiming preferential treatment, and two others, Dana Coppola and Carin Mehler are still reassigned not doing what they love and are trained to do.

The worst part is that Carin Mehler's daughter is a student at the Osborn Elementary School. The same one in which her mom, Carin, is a teacher.

Not only is this an awkward situation for the little girl, but worse, Carin Mehler is not even allowed to enter the school as a parent. The Rye City School District has told Carin that she cannot act as a parent and in the best interests of her child on school property. The Crack Team finds this most outrageous. Even Francesco Portelos is allowed to attend community functions at the school in which he was cast out of (He lives in the community).

But one thing bothers The Crack Team. Where was the Rye Teachers Association at the beginning of this? What did they have to say? RTA President Jamie Zung had this to say at the latest Rye City School District board meeting;
“For almost a year, I have resisted requests from the RTA to make a public statement. For almost a year, I have allowed the RTA to appear apathetic and weak in the public eye. For almost a year, I have maintained hope that the process would work. But after a year, you have failed to settle this case so I, and we, are here tonight.”
Yes, we here at SBSB do not know the inner workings the politics of the RTA, but it looks to us as a bit too little, a bit too late. This "strategy" appears to be taken from the UFT playbook, the chapter entitled, "We Don't Want Them to Get Mad at Us, Besides You Are Still Getting Paid So Shut Up and Stop Kvetching About Your Plight."

So what is a teacher with an exemplary record like Carin Mehler forced to do? Lawsuit.

Carin filed a federal complaint against the Rye City School Board, it's superintendent and her principal. When a school district becomes a police state what is one to do?

From reading the complaint, one wonders if the students in question had testing with modifications and that perhaps the students misinterpreted any involvement as "coaching." It is also reasonable to assume that the students misinterpreted or mixed up the practice tests in which the students were allowed to talk and to ask questions. One can also reasonably wonder that during administration of the test that the students were told preceding the exam to check all their work if that command was not somehow misconstrued.

Why when the Westchester County DA's office has found no abnormalities is this case still being pursued? What has the New York State Education Department's investigation uncovered? Why hasn't the NYSED or the Rye City School District been available for questions from the media?

How many hundreds of thousands of dollars will be wasted on the lawyers and possible settlements that the Rye City School District has and might in the future spend? Are such monies better off being spent on instruction and on the students?

Where is the true outrage from the parents of Rye? The Rye community is being played for suckers by administrators and board members more interested in covering their butts right now than doing the right and honorable thing.

One more thing. Were the parents of the children interviewed notified before hand and/or was permission given and parents present during the interviews?

And please do not forget to be at the board meeting tomorrow night at the Rye Middle School at 8 PM EDT

The federal complaint;


Francesco Portelos said...

I'm going to be at meeting tonight. Correction though. I too am barred from going back to my school in any capacity.

I believe RTA backed the UFT Revive NYSUT slate. I too wondered what took them so long.

Anonymous said...

I am scared right now doing this....I think I have a good reputation of trying to help engage parents to know more about educational manners about teaching and curriculum and behaviors and how we parents are the checks and balances needed in education and that we parents have a role as we sign off on school goals and budgets.....that I too an barred from entering my child's middle school the principal sent a letter advising I need to call the school for permission before coming to the school.....letter stating because I harassed the parent coordinator in public over getting parent involvement in the school....I wish it wasnt so.......this is recent and there is another complaint that is open regrading my son...... I am scared for us both and the parents have learned what I could teach..........I hope I can help education the parents and teachers will listen and learn to be the checks and balances of education. PS: I know i am not alone in trying to change principals to be more engaging....its not just my school....its in alot...