Rally held in response to school principal

(l-r) Kathy Cole, Iris Rosario and Maria Guzzone, a former P.S. 89 guidance counselor.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Parents are demanding the removal of a principal that has become a tyrant.

On Thursday, March 17, parents and teachers of students at P.S. 89 Williamsbridge School campaigned for the immediate ouster of principal Ralph Martinez.

Martinez, who has been the principal of P.S. 89 since 2010, has removed or reassigned approximately 90 teachers, including 20 teachers in the past week, as well as for violating student’s Individualized Education Programs, the protestors charge.

The teachers that have been removed from their classroom settings have either been assigned to other classrooms or removed from the school completely, without the parents being notified of these changes, creating a poor learning environment, they said.

The students have also been transferred from class to class under similar circumstances, they claim.

The removal of these teachers has interfered with student’s IEPs, who depended on particular teachers and teaching assistants to help them with their special educational needs, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, they complained.

The parents believe that the students, many of whom learn English as a second language, have also not gotten all of the services that their IEPs promise, such as occupational and language therapies.

Many parents said the demands of a 12:1:1 special class, which should include 12 students, one teacher and one assistant teacher, have not been met.

Parents also questioned the principal’s use of funds. According to an advocate, the school has been allocated funds for safety devices and enhancements that have not been installed.

“It’s unbelievable,” one parent said regarding the scenario at P.S. 89, who wished to remain anonymous. “The teachers are not paid accordingly – they will work overtime and on weekends but the principal (Martinez) thinks that they are not doing a good enough job so he ends up removing them when their work load in insurmountable.”

“As a parent, you know your child best and you know how they learn – but this principal clearly thinks otherwise by reassigning and removing teachers without proper consent or notification,” the parent added.

“It is hard for these children to learn under these circumstances,” said parent Iris Rosario, who led last week’s rally. “This is very sad – and the children are suffering because of it. If I have to, I will lead another rally.”

Rosario, who, in the past, was awarded over $80,000 from the Department of Education for her lawsuit stemming from P.S. 89 violating her two sons’ IEP programs, said that Martinez has personal vendettas with parents, teachers and even students who complain or file reports against him.

Martinez, she claims, accused her of attempting to bomb the school – an allegation that she called ‘ridiculous’, but has banned her from visiting the school.

“I want him (Martinez) to be removed,” Rosario said.

“We are investigating these allegations against principal Martinez, and we will work with families and students (of P.S. 89) to ensure we are meeting their needs,” said DOE spokesperson Devora Kaye.

Martinez did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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