Leonie Haimson describes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s very bad, horrible week, in which he slandered teachers by saying they complain too much and closed a high school for struggling students over the protests of students. 

A reporter asked why so few complaints of sexual harassments by teachers had been resolved, and the mayor said that teachers like to complain.

Leonie responds:

“Really?  Only 471 complaints over the last four years itself seems quite low given the fact that there are more than 135,000 DOE employees — the largest by far of any city agency.  Instead, the more likely explanation for the low number of allegations and the even smaller number of substantiated complaints is the well-documented chronic dysfunction and corruption at the DOE internal investigative office, the OSI, staffed by agents who drag their feet, whitewash, or retaliate against teacher whistleblowers when they attempt to expose misdeeds of their superiors.”

She then went on to the meeting of the Board of Education, which the mayor controls:

”Then last evening the Panel for Educational Policy met at Murry Bergtraum HS, the first with the new Chancellor Carranza.  It started with typical DOE dysfunction, with hundreds of students, teachers, and parents standing in an incredibly slow line to sign up to speak, with two pairs of DOE employees assigned to take each of their names.   Each speaker was asked to spell out his or her name, while one DOE staffer then recited the name to another staffer, who slowly entered the names into laptops.

“When the meeting started at about 6:15 PM, Chancellor Carranza repeated the news that the increase in Fair Student Funding to 90% – though not the Mayor’s controversial comments about the “culture of complaint” at DOE.  The proceedings went on till past midnight, with one student after another begging the DOE to keep their schools open or being saved from being merged and squeezed into less space….

”The two most controversial proposals involved the closure of Crotona Academy High School, a Bronx transfer school enrolling high-risk, overage and under-credited students, many of whom had already attended two or more high schools previously, and the merger of two transfer schools in Brooklyn, Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School and Brooklyn Academy High School.

“There were many Crotona Academy High School students at the meeting, all of them opposed to the closure. Students spoke about their experiences at their other high schools, where large class sizes and overcrowding led to them being unable to form meaningful connections with their teachers. For hours, students pleaded with the Chancellor and  PEP members to keep the school open, including giving a musical performance. One parent said she was a DOE teacher, but she couldn’t help her two children who had dropped out of their previous schools — but Crotona did. The teachers explained that the data the DOE used to justify the closing of the school was out-of-date; later the Superintendent admitted to PEP members that he didn’t have access to the latest data but he insisted the school should be closed anyway.

“Crotona Academy has been a school in “good standing” by the New York State Education Department for the last five years. Closing a school is always disruptive for students, but it is particularly damaging for transfer students, whose self-confidence is exceedingly fragile. One student warned of an increase in street violence if the school closed. Yet the PEP approved the school’s closure by a vote of 7-5, with every mayoral appointee voting for closure and the five borough president appointees voting to keep the school open. Advocates say they will sue the DOE for violating federal law.

“The merger of Bedford-Stuyvesant HS and Brooklyn Academy HS also drew intense and passionate opposition. The merger is part of a plan to bring Uncommon Brooklyn East Middle school Charter , into the building, and give most of the building’s floors to Uncommon, which already operates a high school there. Uncommon has among thehighest reported suspension rates of any of the charter schools in the city, but for some reason it is a favorite of former Chancellor Farina anyway who granted it special privileges even when this undermined the education of public school students.

“Uncommon had to move from its current location, co-located in the building of PS 9, which is hugely overcrowded,at 117%, with enrollment having grown 28% since 2012-2013 school year. Yet the the DOE acknowledged that the intrusion of Uncommon into the new building would also result in overcrowding; by the 2021-2022 school year, the building is projected to have a utilization rate of 96%-104%.

“As a result, the merged transfer schools will lose an entire floor of the building to Uncommon . In addition, PS K373, a co-located District 75 school, will be assigned a classroom with only 240 square feet for its  12:1:1 program. This violates state guidelines, which call for at least 770 square feet for 12:1:1 classes.

“Neither Bedford-Stuyvesant HS nor Brooklyn Academy HS is poorly performing. Their graduation rates are at the 93rd and 88th percentiles for transfer schools, making them among the top transfer schools in the city. Merging the two schools will cause them to lose intervention rooms, counseling rooms, and classrooms, lead to teachers and counselors being excessed, and undermine the amazing progress made by their students, which should be celebrated and supported rather than undermined.”

So the Mayor closed needed public schools to make space for another no-excuses charter school.

I still remember his campaign promise in 2013 to reverse the Bloomberg policy of closing public schools and opening charter schools. I thought he supported public schools. Guess not.