Lack of leadership led to severe violence, bullying and sexual harassment of children. Parents desperate for help had to turn to the press as the DOE did nothing, Superintendent Melodie Mashel had not met with parents even after repeated requests. The Riverdale Press has covered the saga of PS 207 and the parents feel utterly neglected.
PS 207 parents are rallying around a teacher who they say was suddenly and unjustly fired just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Ada Luna, who was filling a position as a first-grade English as a Second Language teacher, said she was fired on Nov. 24, after trying to discuss her salary with the principal, Maria Rosado. After the principal brushed her off, she said, she met with the school’s United Federation of Teachers’ representative, Leida Romero-Lopez, and was promptly fired for doing so.
A petition signed by 20 parents derides the firing as being “sudden,” “demeaning” and “disruptive,” and calls the principal’s decision not to inform them of the personnel change beforehand, “unprofessional.”
Belky Vizcaino, whose child was in Ms. Luna’s class, says she hand delivered the petition to Sonia Menendez, the Community School District 10 superintendent, on Dec. 1.
While the suddenness of Ms. Luna’s departure was upsetting to parents like Ms. Vizcaino — whose child was held back last year and was starting to flourish under Ms. Luna’s care — the union’s grievances against the principal go far beyond that.
Ms. Romero-Lopez has filed grievances with the teachers’ union, one for retroactive pay on Ms. Luna’s behalf, and another for interfering with the union.
“It wasn’t because she was a bad teacher,” said Ms. Romero-Lopez of Ms. Luna’s firing. “She was actually observed and it was satisfactory. She was dismissed on a personal level. “
Ms. Rosado, the school’s principal, did not return calls for comment and John Khani, assistant director of public affairs for the Counsel of School Supervisors and Administrators, the principals’ union, said he reached out to Ms. Rosado. She claimed to have been advised by the city Department of Education not to make any statements, he said.
Ms. Luna was hired in the fall to fill in for a teacher out on leave, and was being paid as a substitute at $154 per diem with no benefits. She was informally assured by Ms. Rosado that the job would become permanent, she said, but was only officially notified that she was being hired as a classroom teacher once Ms. Rosado heard from the teacher out on leave, on Oct. 9, that she would not be returning.
The next month, on Nov. 14, Ms. Rosado announced to the school leadership team, Ms. Romero-Lopez and Ms. Luna that she was planning on hiring Ms. Luna permanently. According to UFT rules, teachers’ salaries apply to long-term substitute teachers who were hired to fill an unencumbered vacancy within the first 15 days of a term.
Ms. Luna said she repeatedly tried to reach out to Ms. Rosado to discuss her raise and retroactive pay, but could not get the principal to sit down and meet with her.
The last straw for Ms. Luna came when Ms. Rosado was absent from school on Oct. 31 — the day of a scheduled meeting — and delayed rescheduling indefinitely. That is when she went to speak with Ms. Romero-Lopez. She was fired later that day.
‘Your last day’
“Ms. Luna, today’s gonna be your last day,” she remembers the principal telling her on Nov. 24, “because I told you not to open your mouth and I changed my mind.” Earlier that same day, Ms. Rosado told Ms. Romero-Lopez that she was dismissing Ms. Luna because of budget cuts.
The day after she was fired, Ms. Luna set out to make a round of painful calls to the parents of the students in her class, telling them that she would not return, and canceling a potluck Thanksgiving feast planned for the following day.
Ms. Vizcaino said her daughter was so upset upon hearing her beloved teacher would not return to class that she cried and did not go to school for two days.
Ms. Vizcaino’s family was not alone in their dismay. There were 20 signatories on the petition that begins, “We the parents of class 1-111.” There were 21 kids in Ms. Luna’s class when she left, she said.
A literacy cluster teacher has taken over Ms. Luna’s first-grade classroom, according to Ms. Romero-Lopez, even though she is not a licensed ESL teacher and is not fluent in Spanish and therefore cannot effectively communicate with the parents.
Parents rally against principal
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