Stand in Solidarity with William Bryant HS Community

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Please join us as we stand in solidarity with the William C. Bryant High School community. On October 27, 2014 at 3:30 PM we will join the community in rallying to bring awareness to the questionable management of Principal Namita Dwarka.

4810 31st Ave, Queens, NY 11103

More information here

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From Bryant High School Community member:

” ”  I support their mission and have been trying to disseminate information to the DOE, UFT and anyone who will listen regarding the shameful behavior and policies of our Principal Namita Dwarka. She has created a system of fear and zero-flexibility, and allocates funds for initiatives that may look good on the surface but do not support the academic welfare of students.

The recipients of my emails are Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson, Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo, Queens Superintendent Tameka Matheson (who resigned and was replaced by Juan Mendez), NYC UFT Representative Rona Freiser and Queens UFT Representative James Vasquez.  I removed Juan Mendez from the email list after he came to our school a few weeks ago and asked teachers to stop emailing the city about our concerns. I have received many emails with the message, “We are looking into your concerns” or “An investigation is underway” but nothing further has been sent.

My three biggest areas of concern regarding Namita Dwarka’s appointment as Principal are (1) educational neglect and the mismanagement of funds, (2) intimidation of untenured and inexperienced educators (30-40% of the faculty), and (3) harassment, public humiliation and retaliation against faculty and staff.

Educational Neglect

Forcing students to either have inconsistent instruction or no instruction due to her unwillingness to fill vacancies in a timely manner, hire teachers to replace those who have retired and find licensed teachers to cover classes for those on sick leaves or child-care/maternity leaves.
Forcing students to undergo multiple schedule changes due to removing teachers from comp-time positions mid-semester and opening and closing new sections of classes as a result
Removing teachers from the classroom mid-semester due to unauthorized comp-time positions and personal prejudices which maximizes the class sizes of the remaining sections.
Denying students access to their guidance counselors for mental-health and programming issues due to her insistence that guidance counselors (a) rotate students rather than keep the same set for four years; (b) have a higher caseload than what is recommended; and (c) comply with additional paperwork requirements.
Using funds for frivolous purchases such as faculty and student t-shirts instead of necessary supplies such as Common Core Geometry textbooks, English books and graphing calculators.
Refusing to provide students access to tutoring before school, during school and after school. Due to the belief that “If math teachers taught better, then students wouldn’t need to go to tutoring”, math tutoring has been almost eliminated and daily Small Learning Community (SLC) meetings have been mandated.  Ironically, the SLC meetings have never once focused on how math teachers could improve their instruction of mathematical concepts.
Destroying specialized programs such as Math and Science Research by creating a master schedule that makes it impossible for Honors students to take these classes and forces students who do not have the necessary pre-requisites to enroll.
Eliminating A.P. Classes, special electives in all subject areas and Honors programs.
Eliminating all Foreign Language programs except Spanish. (Bryant once had full Italian, German, Greek and French programs.)
Encouraging some seniors to graduate early so that she will not need to return DOE funds due to higher than expected enrollment. Note: The majority of these students’ parents did not go to college and are unaware of (a) the opportunities their children are missing by graduating early and (b) the fact that they will need to pay tuition for these same classes at a Community College.
Forcing almost all teachers to attend daily Small Learning Community (SLC) meetings regardless of whether they co-teach classes.  The I.S.S. teachers (Instructional Support Services, formerly known as Special Ed) and mainstream teachers who co-teach are not given common planning time to devise lessons that are tailored to the needs of their students.

Intimidation of Untenured and Inexperienced Administrators, Faculty and Staff

Removing experienced administrators such as A.P.Math S—, who was the President of the NYC Math A.P.’s, and replacing them with teachers who were either working towards their A.P. licenses or had just recently obtained a license.  – – – –  – – – – , Ms. – – – –  replacement, has never taught Calculus and had among the lowest Regents passing percentages in the department when she was a teacher. She, like the other new administrators, “coordinators” and “directors”, writes emails that start with “Per the Principal” because she is not permitted to have an independent voice if she would like to keep her position.
Creating comp-time positions in a manner that is out of compliance with the UFT contract
Expecting administrators, coordinators and comp-time position holders to be present when she verbally attacks teachers—a contractual violation (Only supervisors may be present during a disciplinary hearing.)
Pressuring the group mentioned above to write poor observations or give false testimony about teachers that she personally dislikes
Demanding that the group mentioned above tamper with NYS Regents testing mandates, change grades/transcript records, create “ghost programs” for teachers,  or turn a blind eye while she does it herself
Retaliating against the group mentioned above if they agreed to meet with investigators and answer their questions honestly
Pressuring untenured teachers to accept comp-time positions—a contractual violation

Harassment, Public Humiliation and Discriminatory Treatment

Pressuring a math teacher who started Bryant’s Robotics program and enabled our students to attend the National Competition in St. Louis to find employment elsewhere, and screaming at her with non-supervisory  “coordinators” present who were expected to take notes
Forbidding a veteran teacher with high Regents passing percentages and high student approval rates to sing mathematical formulas and concepts in her classroom despite requiring teachers to attend Professional Development sessions about creative teaching practices such as singing that are supported by scientific data.
Removing a veteran teacher from his comp-time programming position because he answered an investigator’s questions honestly
Making numerous false allegations such as “I have a stack of complaints this high against you”
Refusing to make eye contact with teachers, and attempting to make them feel invisible
Rating teachers favorably if they use the encouraged “Bryant lesson plan format” which has her name printed at the top, and rating them unfavorably if they use an alternate format
Arriving unannounced in teachers’ classrooms who she personally dislikes and searching for reasons to give them Ineffective ratings. She reprimanded one teacher for covering topics that did not appear on the Common Core Algebra list of topics.  When the teacher explained that the topics on the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam were not 100% aligned with the Common Core topics, she refused to listen and repeated that Bryant was a Common Core School and all teachers needed to teach the Common Core Curriculum. 96% of that teacher’s 170 students passed the NYS Integrated Algebra Regents Exam that year and one earned a 100 because the veteran teacher had the courage to do the right thing instead of the Principal’s bidding.
Granting per-session tutoring hours after school and on Saturdays based on favoritism.
Asking a teacher to create a video of students praising their favorite teachers, and then refusing to present it to the faculty because many of the teachers were the same ones that she has relentlessly harassed.
Exempting her inner circle from written mandates such as not bringing one’s children into the building; not eating, talking or sitting while administering NYS Regents Exams; and glorifying them not for how well they have served Bryant students, but for how quickly they respond to emails she sends them,  “even at 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings.”

Before Namita Dwarka was appointed Principal, over 50 Bryant teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, secretaries, school aides, custodians, and safety agents performed together in the musical Grease.  Along with many other beloved traditions that are no longer in existence, we had yearly faculty and staff productions that raised money for students pursuing Theater Arts. What a delight it was to sing and dance together while students cheered in the audience.  We loved working together as a team to help students reach their maximum potential, and we were very proud to be part of the Bryant family. The drama teacher who brought us together has since been removed along with many other veteran teachers and school leaders. The extra work they did for our school was never recognized, and has yet to be repeated. Many of us who were once waiting patiently for the storm to pass realize now that we must be more pro-active in order to remove our Principal, and we will relentlessly pursue this course of action until she is replaced with a leader whose top priority is to serve the needs of Bryant students.

It is disappointing that an individual who has divided our school in every possible conceivable way continues to be heavily protected by the NYC Department of Education.

Sincerely,

William Cullen Bryant High School”

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