We may stand alone, or with a thousand other people, but on Thursday March 26, 2015, we stood for something. We were there to support the students and staff of William Bryant HS and push for the removal of Principal Namita Dwarka.
Despite unfavorable weather and lack of support from the UFT Queens Office’s Rona Freiser, James Vasquez and UFT Central, we stood tall and spoke to many parents, students and some staff. Principal Namita Dwarka has made sure to get rid of tenured teachers and leave mostly nontenured
“Wait, hold up. Can I put this on Instagram?” one student from a group asked.
“That’s how we organized our student walk-out last time.”
Imagine that. Students using social media to organize a walk-out in protest of the Principal that de Blasio Carmen Farina continues to protect.
We distributed the below flyer to parents, students and staff walking in and out of Parent Teacher Conferences.
“I’m all down with that!” one parent exclaimed as she walked by and saw our signs. “Let me get one of those flyers.”
More statements from the students:
“She cut programs. We used to have more variety.”
“I graduated last year, but called her out as soon as she got here. Get her the ____out! Place has gone to ___ since she’s been here.”
“They hide safety issues. They don’t report what they should.”
“I was attacked and filed a report and they yelled at me, not the other girl. Not even safe.”
“They got rid of some of our teachers or they left or whatever, but they were good.”
Although many teachers walked in for Parent Teacher Conference, avoiding eye contact, some gave us a quick thumbs up, a wink and mouthed a “thank you.” Some stopped and told us of the conditions and how the place used to be a good one to work at. As recent as last month, Principal Namita Dwarka made a veteran teacher with the highest regents scores an Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) or as the media and DOE spin them “unwanted teachers.” You have high scores, are a loud voice for the students and staff and then labeled ‘unwanted teacher.” Isn’t there an American flag in front of each classroom still?
In any case, UFT Solidarity was happy to have New Action and DTOE.org along side in a united front against a bad educational leader.
Rumor had it that the UFT Queens office not only failed to support this rally, despite obtaining a 96% no confidence vote of the staff, but they also spread rumors that it was cancelled. That was something that we heard from both social media and staff at the rally.
We also heard that Bryant’s Cluster Leader Despena Zaharakis, Network Leader Joseph Zaza and had been at the school along with Superintendent Juan Mendez. That has not been confirmed. Despena Zaharakis has also been the support Cluster Leader for embattled Staten Island Principal Linda Hill.
To the William Bryant High School staff, tenured and nontenured. We are here for you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To other administrators out there and UFT members in need, we will be coming to more schools more frequently. Lean on us.