|Abusive principals who kept their jobs (credit NY Post)|
Instead, DOE chronically ignores teachers' claims and instead informs the principals of their accusations, who then retaliate by firing them or making their lives miserable. In one horrible case that Sue describes, the principal of PS 15 in Queens Antonio K’tori was protected by District 29 Superintendent Lenon Murray, who himself was subsequently accused of sexual harassment. Earlier, several young girls were molested by a teacher at PS 15, who is now in jail. The girls won a $16 million jury award against the city, with the parents blaming DOE and the K'tori for “negligent supervision.”
Yet even now, after teacher Shaunte Pennington filed a civil lawsuit against K'tori in court, who fired her after she reported harassment starting in 2012, the DOE has delayed doing anything for so long about her complaints that the three year statute of limitations has lapsed and he can't be dismissed.
“It’s a system that gives predators a platform and access to victims,” Penniston told The Post. “Nothing is done, and there are protections for perpetrators.”
In case after case, even when administrators are removed from their schools, the DOE is forced to pay them their full salaries until they choose to retire. As I'm quoted in the article, "It’s a terrible burden on the teachers who are complaining, and a terrible burden on taxpayers, because we have to pay large amounts to settle these cases — and then the salaries of the principals in perpetuity."
I've written frequently about the well-known dysfunction at the OSI, the DOE's internal investigative office, as well as the problems at the Special Investigator's office (now under the authority of Commissioner of Investigation Mark Peters). Both offices have records of refusing to aggressively pursue the valid accusations of whistleblowers, who are then forced to go to the media or to court to get their reports of corruption taken seriously.
The DOE's malign neglect is likely the reason there are so few sexual harassment claims compared to other city agencies, only 570 over four years, considering there are roughly 135,000 full-time workers, mostly women; and an even tinier number -- only seven-- of substantiated complaints. Teachers are clearly afraid to complain for good reason, knowing that if they do, their jobs may be at risk and DOE and/or the SCI will whitewash their tormentors. Yet when asked why there were so few substantiated reports of harassment at DOE, de Blasio blamed a "culture of complaint" at the Department;
There has been a history, it's pretty well-known inside the education world, of some people bringing complaints of one type or another for reasons that may not have to do with the specific issue — and this is not just about sexual harassment it's about a whole host of potential infractions,
Later, the Mayor was forced to take this statement back, especially after a critical editorial in the NY Times. But he still hasn't managed to confront how an ingrained culture of corruption has been allowed to fester and grow for many years at DOE.
On the other hand, Chancellor Carranza has said that this is a "Before Richard'” problem and pledged to take the allegations of harassment "extremely seriously." Let's hope he does. In my experience, I haven't yet noted a single Chancellor who has.