Mitch Barandes was the librarian at David A. Boody, I.S. 228, from 2005 until he was discontinued in 2008. Here are some of the circumstances that led to his termination:
In December 2007, after having received satisfactory ratings for his teaching during his first two years, he was told by Assistant Principal Eric Ierardi that he must now be observed teaching a particularly difficult class. They were eighth graders, and the Assistant Principal in charge of the eighth grade at the time was Joyce Sigona, who was later forced to retire because due to her inappropriate and unprofessional conduct. Under Mrs. Sigona’s direction, the students knew they were unlikely to be held accountable for their frequent rambunctious behavior.
Since Mr. Barandes was a librarian, and therefore did not see any class regularly, he was required to teach a class that had not seen him before and was known to be difficult to control. Mr. Barandes was given his first unsatisfactory evaluation.
Mr. Barandes was told in June 2008 by Assistant Principal Scott Herman that he would be required to teach a social studies class how to use library and Internet resources, and that he would be observed teaching that class. Mr. Barandes was also required to hand out laptops to the students from laptop carts. He had never worked with the laptop computers before. As happens with most sudden June evaluations, Mr. Barandes was deemed unsatisfactory.
There is certainly a subjective element in the evaulation of any teaching performance, and perhaps Mr. Barandes would simply have accepted this as Mr. Herman’s unbiased appraisal of his teaching, if Mr. Barandes had not observed what had happened to a language arts teacher that very same year.
This language arts teacher has not given permission at this time to use his name, so we will leave him unnamed for the time being. This langauge arts teacher had been a successful teacher at David A. Boody for about ten years. All of a sudden, however, during Principal Dominick D’Angelo’s first year, the language arts teacher also began to get unsatisfactory evaluations from Mr. Herman. Apparently this teacher, like Mr. Barandes, had also suddenly forgotten how to teach.
The language arts teacher’s unsatisfactory evaluations suddenly turned satisfactory, and it was rumored that he had blackmailed D’Angelo. It is hard to see any other reason that he would suddenly, after ten years, have his teaching deemed unsatisfactory, and then, just as suddenly, have his teaching deemed satisfacory. This is how things are done under Dominick D’Angelo’s administration. This is how Scott Herman does business.
Another thing that sticks in Mr. Barandes’s craw is that D’Angelo lied about Mr. Barandes at his hearing, which took place about a year and a half after his termination. One time during Mr. Barandes’s experience as a teacher, a few months after one of the times he was observed teaching, Assistant Principal Eric Ierardi told him that they had lost the paperwork for that observation, and asked him to sign it again. Mr. Barandes did so.
According to the Department of Education regulations, in order for a teaching evaluation to be valid, it must be signed by the teacher within three months of the evaluation, and in this case, Mr. Barandes had signed it more than three months later. Therefore, Mr. Barandes’s union representative brought this during his hearing. D’Angelo falsely claimed that Mr. Barandes refused to sign the letter within the three month period. D’Angelo offered to have his secretary, Ms. Fran Favaloro, confirm this, but the director of the hearing did not allow her to do so. Dominick D’Angelo lied about Mr. Barandes and, until now, did not pay a price for doing so. Up to this point, D’Angelo of I.S. 228 has not been held accountable for anything he has lied about.
Mr. Barandes noticed that, although fifty people were fired or decided to leave during the first five years of D’Angelo’s administration, Tom Ingram, a special education teacher and a family friend of D’Angelo, reached his tenure date without incident while working at David A. Boody.
Some of the harassed and terminated teachers, and others sympathetic to their fate, held a rally in front of I.S. 288 on June 10, 2014 to protest D’Angelo’s administration, as well as the willingness of Scott Herman and Eric Ierardi to go along with D’Angelo’s abuse of teachers. Even though it was a peaceful rally, D’Angelo ordered the sprinklers to be turned on to the maximum so the teachers would be drenched as they walked by.
Mr. Barandes is also incensed by the normal procedure he and others had to undergo. His hearing took place over a year after his dismissal. Those who had decided his performance was unsatisfactory were not required to be present, but participated by speakerphone, apparently because they held important jobs and the hearing was merely perfunctory. Also, Mr. Barandes was told that if for any reason he was a half hour late, he would simply lose the appeal. Mr. Barandes realizes that at every step of this appeal, just as with every step of his employment, he was regarded, and treated, as a worm.