Issues at an Allerton public school continue to generate concern among parents and teachers.
A teacher with 10 years at the school, but who was recently fired without being formally charged, asked how much longer will the school suffer under its current principal?
P.S. 89 The Williamsbridge School’s principal, Ralph Martinez, who has been the school’s top administrator since September of 2010, has single-handedly removed or reassigned nearly 100 teachers, including 20 teachers during a one-week stretch, according to teachers as well as parents whose students currently attend the school.
Teachers have been removed from their classroom settings and moved to other classrooms without parents being notified, they also claim.
Martinez has removed parent coordinator and respected community icon Francine Palmiery as well as assistant principal Karen Shapiro, who brought in many programs and grants, including over $250,000 for renovations of the school’s auditorium and library.
In his six-years as principal, Martinez has been responsible for the replacement of 95 of its 145 teachers.
“My question is – why does this man still have a job? It’s amazing,” asked Samuel Pagan, who spent nearly a decade as a teacher, teacher’s assistant and paraprofessional at P.S. 89 before being released earlier this month.
He was previously suspended indefinitely on allegations of misconduct which were never formalized.
He was switched to three different classes during a four-month period. He also claims that he had not been reprimanded once during his entire teaching career.
“He (Martinez) does not care about the students or their needs and it’s a shame that new teachers can’t make noise about this because they don’t have knowledge of what is really going on and they just want to stay on his good side. I believe that I was suspended, and eventually let go, because I reported these issues to the DOE.”
According to Pagan, teachers have been asked to work 11-hour days (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) as well as on Saturdays. “This man is a repeat violator – and the public as well as the state needs to know about this.”
Martinez is also responsible for violating student’s Individualized Education Programs, the teachers and parents charged.
The switching and removal of teachers has interfered with student’s IEPs.
“The situation hasn’t gotten any better,” said Iris Rosario, a parent who was awarded over $80,000 from the NYC Department of Education because P.S. 89 violated her two sons’ IEP programs.
“There has been a big mis-usage of funds and a lot of corruption taking place at this school,” she added.
Earlier this month, former teachers and parents, including Rosario and Pagan, attended DOE town hall meetings in Long Island City and Flatbush, where they expressed their concerns about P.S. 89.
DOE chancellor Carmen Farina was “disengaged” and “uninterested”, often staring at her phone or talking to others while their complaints were made at the meeting, they said
Back in March, parents and former teachers demanded Martinez’ ouster at a rally in front of P.S. 89.
Neither the DOE or the principal, responded to requests for comment.