Thursday, June 24, 2021

PS 197 Used By AP and Teacher as a Place For Sex Tryst

 

Assistant Principal Sergio Herrera

I don't know which is more disturbing about this story - what the AP and teacher did, or why they thought they could get away with it. The secrets of the New York City Department of Education would make a great movie.

Jessenia Zapata

My opinion is that the NYC DOE "allows" people to do something wrong and then picks the people who blow the whistle to remove from their jobs. Here, Herrera will probably be given a job as an administrator within the walls of 52 Chambers street, similar to Santiago Taveras while Ms. Zappata will be put into a rubber room.


 Betsy Combier

betsy.combier@gmail.com

Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


Sex ed! NYC teacher and her married boss had trysts in school library, science labs
by Jason Beeferman and Selim Algar, NY POST, June 23, 2021

A married principal and his teacher lover turned their Queens elementary school into a hot sheets motel — having sex everywhere from the library to the science labs, sometimes while kids were in class, sources told The Post.

Officials are now investigating Assistant Principal Sergio Herrera for allegedly conducting a torrid affair with underling Jessenia Zapata — and threatening the jobs of staffers who found out, the sources said.

“This is a school run by fear,” said one of nearly a dozen sources at PS 197 in Far Rockaway, who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity.

“Everyone is scared to say anything. We don’t know what else to do.”

The Special Commissioner of Investigation is in possession of text messages that indicate Herrera and Zapata had sex in their school building during workdays, the sources said.

“I just had sex with him in his office,” Zapata wrote to a colleague during a school day in October 2019. “We’re in library now. Girl it was worth the risk.”

The venue changed to a science room on another occasion, according to a message.

“We just had sex in rickys lab in the closet,” Zapata wrote in a December 2019 message viewed by The Post.

Several school staffers said they were appalled.

“How is a parent going to feel that this is going on in their kid’s school?” a teacher said. “It’s just totally inappropriate and shows that they feel like they can do anything.”

School sources said Herrera and Zapata also schemed to call out sick on the same day to meet at a hotel

“U think people r going to talking shit if we r both out?” Herrera asked before the October 2019 meeting.

“Idgaf anymore,” Zapata replied. “Let them talk amor.”

Herrera, who is married, grew concerned that their activities were drawing attention at the school — and confronted one teacher about the rumors in a January 2020 meeting.

With Zapata in the room, Herrera told the crying educator that he would extinguish her career if she didn’t tell him who knew of the relationship or if she ever leaked word of it.

Meanwhile, Zapata has been shown favoritism in her school assignments and currently oversees the third grade as a grade leader, sources said.

Herrera’s wife eventually found out about the affair and furiously alerted principal Christina Villavicencio in 2020, sources said.

Concerned teachers contacted their union representatives late last year and the SCI began an investigation this January that is ongoing.

“Our schools must be safe havens for all students and staff, and these are very troubling allegations,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “Immediately following these allegations being reported, the teacher was reassigned to a different supervisor and there is an ongoing, independent investigation to determine appropriate next steps.”

School sources said that Zapata and Herrera still appear together on Zoom meetings related to curriculum and maintain close professional ties.

Zapata declined to comment on the allegations.

Herrera could not be reached.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Parcare Vaccine Fraud: Who is Investigating AG Letisha James?

 

ParCare CEO Gary Schlesinger [photo: Paul Martinka]

OK, so Attorney General Letitia James is "chummy" with Gary Schlesinger, whose company allegedly fraudulently obtained 2,300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and she recuses herself from the investigation by her office.

Our question is: who is investigating AG James?

Gov. Cuomo says AG to probe vaccine ‘fraud,’ vows $1M fine for violations

We want to know.

Betsy Combier
Susan Edelman, NYPOST, January 2, 2021

State Attorney General Letitia James has recused herself from the ParCare vaccination probe “to avoid even an appearance of conflict,” her office told The Post.

The AG’s office will still investigate whether ParCare Community Health Network “fraudulently” obtained 2,300 doses of the coveted Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, a case referred by Gov. Cuomo,  but James will have “zero involvement,” officials said.

James is chummy with the boss of the embattled network, which runs four Brooklyn clinics, one in upstate Kiryas Joel and another in Harlem.

Gov. Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker have accused ParCare of misidentifying itself as a “qualified health center” to obtain the vaccine from the state Health Department.

ParCare said it administered 869 of 2,300 vaccine doses, and handed over the remainder, along with documentation “regarding the proper receipt of the vaccines.” The company denied any wrongdoing, and vowed to cooperate with the probe.

The recusal was announced after questions were raised whether James — a former City Councilwoman in central Brooklyn and NYC Public Advocate — is too friendly with PareCare CEO Gary Schlesinger.

“In order to avoid even an appearance of conflict, the Attorney General has personally recused herself from this matter,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

A  fixture in the Orthodox Jewish community, Schlesinger was photographed smiling broadly alongside James at a 2015 Democratic Party fund-raiser at Junior’s restaurant in downtown Brooklyn.

In January 2016, Schlesinger posted a Facebook photo of himself next to James and ParCare’s executive team, captioned, “catching up with the energetic NYC Public Advocate Letitia James to discuss healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s underserved communities.”

In  2017, Schlesinger posted a photo of himself and James “celebrating last night with my friend,” calling her the “future NYC mayor.” 

In 2018, James ran for state attorney general instead of mayor. Schlesinger was a key supporter of James’ AG campaign, and reportedly was involved in running a PAC to help her get elected.

“I endorse Tish James, who is devoted to fair justice for all and religious liberty which is why I join Jewish community leaders and advocates to endorse” her, Schlesinger posted on Facebook, one of several messages urging followers to vote for her.

The history of Schlesinger’s political alliance with James, and Cuomo plopping the ParCare probe into the AG’s lap, has raised eyebrows.

No one’s taking it seriously as a threat,” said an Orthodox Jewish resident.  “It’s known she’s very good friends with the Hasidic community. She’s  unlikely to do anything  to jeopardize that relationship.”

AG officials said the Brooklyn born-and-bred James knows a wide range of political and community leaders in the borough, and that her relationship with Schlesinger will not compromise the probe.

“Our office will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

The offices of Cuomo and Zucker would not explain why the state failed to check ParCare’s credentials before shipping the vaccines.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

NY Public Schools' v Charters Teacher Credentialing Battle

 


NewYork’s Teacher-Credentialing Battle

As charters train teachers their own way, the floundering establishment fights back.

Larry Sand, City Journal, November  2017

A new study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) comparing academic achievement in traditional public schools (TPS), charter management organizations (CMOs), and independent charters in New York City found charters generally superior to their traditional cousins, with charter elementary school students outperforming traditional public school students in reading and math. The gains for independent charter schools—those charters not part of a network—also outdid TPS, but by a smaller margin. Not only do charters do it better; they also do it for less money. A recent University of Arkansas study shows that charters are educating children in New York City for almost $5,000 a year less than traditional public schools.

At about the same time that the CREDO report was released, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers and the New York State United Teachers filed a lawsuit claiming that proposed new standards, which allow charter schools to certify their own teachers, will water down the quality of the schools’ educators. The suggested changes, authorized by the State University of New York’s charter school committee, suggest that teachers could be certified after 160 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of teaching practice, rather than going through the seemingly endless process required of TPS teachers, who ultimately must earn a master’s degree to teach in New York.

The value, if any, of a master’s degree on teacher quality, is minimal—as I can attest, from my own experience in education school. “Paying teachers on the basis of master’s degrees is equivalent to paying them based on hair color,” Harvard researcher Tom Kane maintains. The progressive Center for American Progress reports that teachers with master’s degrees “are no more effective, on average, than their counterparts without master’s degrees.”

New York’s charter proponents want to change the standards in part because many schools are short on teachers and because they believe that they can train teachers better than traditional education schools can. New York City TPS are also facing a teacher shortage, it turns out, but their solution, courtesy of Mayor Bill de Blasio and school chief Carmen FariƱa, is to draw on the so-called Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR)—800 or so teachers from schools that closed or whose jobs may have been eliminated. Many of these reservists are inept, have checkered pasts, and have sat idle for years because no principal wants to hire them—but firing them is next to impossible because of their powerful union. So they do no teaching but still collect their paychecks and get yearly raises. Now the city is in the process of reinstating them, and principals have little say about it. Worse, many of these unwanted teachers will be placed in low-performing schools, where they will instruct the at-risk kids who can least afford their incompetence.

The New York Times profiles a few unfireable teachers who will soon have regular assignments. In her last permanent job, one unnamed science teacher did not bother to enter her students’ grades regularly. She gave one student in her earth-science class a grade of 83 percent, though the student never came to school. Administrators observing her classes often found students talking, listening to music on headphones, or sleeping. Francis Blake, who worked in a Bronx elementary school, was disciplined for poor performance, insubordination, and neglect of duties. He had been caught sleeping in a classroom when he was supposed to be helping with school dismissal. Felicia Alterescu, a special-education teacher, has been without a permanent position since 2010. She received a string of unsatisfactory ratings, was disciplined for calling in sick when she was attending a family reunion, and had been arrested on harassment charges. Both Blake and Alterescu earn salaries at the top of the pay scale—$113,762 a year—despite not working. But paying them not to teach is preferable to subjecting innocent children to their influence in the classroom.

Consider the contrast: while teachers’ unions try to stifle a non-traditional charter school certification program, hundreds of ATR teachers trained the old-fashioned way are about to flood the public school system. Their students won’t be impressed with their masters’ degrees.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Bill de Blasio-Chirlaine McCray-Thrive NY Scam In the News Again

 

Bill de Blasio + Chirlaine McCray

Has anyone had enough of this scam, the game of hide and seek with public funds for the McCray organization ThriveNY?

It’s once again time, boys and girls, for the Bill & Chirl Hour




Public Outrage in NYC Over $1 Billion Spent on ThriveNYC Program

When can the Department of Investigation start looking into both Bill and Chirlaine?

We want to know.

  Betsy Combier

Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials  


Chirlaine and Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio, first lady tout pilot project with no plan or even a name

It’s a new pilot project without a plan — or even a name — being overseen by New York City first lady Chirlane McCray’s embattled billion-dollar ThriveNYC program.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife revealed scant details of the new unnamed mental-health initiative in front of the cameras Tuesday, only saying the plan is to divert calls about emotionally distressed New Yorkers away from the NYPD and to newly formed teams of specially trained workers.

Yet neither the mayor nor McCray could say which two neighborhoods the project will target first when it starts in February or when it might be rolled out citywide.

The pair also failed to reveal how much the project will cost or how many workers it will involve.

City Hall did not respond to The Post’s questions on even these basic details.

Instead, the administration sent out a press release involving the new “Mental Health Teams,’’ with McCray saying, “Treating mental-health crises as mental-health challenges and not public safety ones is the modern and more appropriate approach.

“That is because most individuals with psychiatric concerns are much more likely to be victims or harm themselves than others,’’ added the first lady — the face of the city’s widely panned $1.25 billion ThriveNYC mental-health-care program.

“Of the more than 170,000 mental health calls to 9-1-1 last year … the majority concern people who just needed help,’’ she said.

The idea behind the project is to help de-escalate tensions between the NYPD and communities over cops’ handling of mental-health calls by taking police out of the equation altogether for most such 911 emergencies.

ThriveNYC — which has been accused for years of failing to properly detail its spending or how it is meeting its main goal of connecting the mentally ill with services  — “will provide programmatic oversight for this pilot,” the press release said.

Most recently, ThriveNYC also has been accused of being virtually AWOL amid the city’s homeless crisis.

A law-enforcement source, referring to the new program, seethed to The Post, “This is all smoke and mirrors, just the latest sham known as ThriveNYC.

“I guess [the mayor] sees this as another way to take every last penny from the city before he leaves. I just hope he leave himself enough to get a MetroCard when he leaves City Hall.”

The city Police Benevolent Association also ripped the new pilot program.

“Police officers know that we cannot single-handedly solve our city’s mental-health disaster, but this plan will not do that, either,” police-union President Pat Lynch said in a statement. “It will undoubtedly put our already overtaxed EMS colleagues in dangerous situations without police support.

“We need a complete overhaul of the rest of our mental-health-care system so that we can help people before they are in crisis, rather than just picking up the pieces afterward.

“On that front, the de Blasio administration has done nothing but waste time and money with ThriveNYC and similar programs. We have no confidence that this long-delayed plan will produce any better results.”

The new pilot project’s mental-health response teams will include FDNY EMS workers, city officials said.

FDNY dispatchers will decide when to call these special teams to scenes instead of cops, the city said. If things look violent, then the NYPD will get involved, officials said.

The project was revealed a little over a year after the mayor announced a related, never-launched pilot program involving teams of cops and mental-health workers responding together to scenes.

That program, announced in October 2019, failed to get off the ground because of COVID-19, the administration told The Post on Tuesday.

“We’re still determining when and how best to launch the program,” a rep said in an e-mail.

The city said in the press release for the new plan, “This pilot represents a concerted effort by FDNY,[Health+Hospitals], [city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene], the NYPD, and the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC to move towards a more health-centered approach.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

Two Social Justice Senior Members of Mayor de Blasio's Administration, Resign

 

 Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice PHOTO: BESS ADLER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Two Senior Officials Leave New York City Government

Architects of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s criminal-justice approach are latest high-profile departures

By Ben Chapman and Katie Honan

Two architects of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s criminal-justice approach resigned, the latest high-profile officials to leave government as the city has struggled with the coronavirus pandemic.

Elizabeth Glazer announced her resignation as director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in an email to staff early Wednesday. New York Police Department Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo, who was appointed to the role in January, put in his resignation papers late Tuesday.

Mr. de Blasio said Wednesday that Chief Pichardo told him he had made a “personal decision” to leave. Chief Pichardo met with the mayor to discuss the chief missing calls and messages from Mr. de Blasio recently, officials said. But the mayor said that didn’t prompt Chief Pichardo’s resignation.

“There was one thing I needed to talk through with him where I think there was some miscommunication, but he and I have talked dozens and dozens of times and had no problem communicating and working through things,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It is unusual, obviously—someone who had a very bright future ahead, but he’s making a decision for family reasons.”

Chief Pichardo declined to comment.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a television interview that he and others had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Chief Pichardo to stay. The patrol chief’s last day will be in November, according to officials.

Chief Pichardo, 43 years old, is the first Dominican-American to reach his high-ranking position in the NYPD, and he often appeared at public events with Messrs. Shea and de Blasio.

Police officials said that Chief Pichardo offered his resignation after being summoned to City Hall for questioning by Mr. de Blasio after missing calls from the mayor while working overtime in the field.

Chief Pichardo met again with Mr. de Blasio on Tuesday after submitting his retirement request, according to the officials. Mr. de Blasio asked the patrol chief to remain at his post, the officials said, but Chief Pichardo refused.

Ms. Glazer is expected to remain on the job until the end of October, according to officials at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Ms. Glazer declined to comment.

A longtime adviser to Mr. de Blasio, she created some of the nation’s most aggressive criminal-justice overhauls in New York City, including a plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex and replace it with four neighborhood jails.

Part of that plan was dealt a legal blow last month after a Manhattan judge nullified necessary land-use approvals to build a neighborhood jail in Chinatown in Manhattan, citing a number of issues including the city’s efforts to collect community input and address potential health concerns in the planned development.

Her departure  followed those of other high-ranking officials who recently left city posts, including Oxiris Barbot, the former health commissioner, and Allison Hirsch, who was an adviser to the mayor.

Write to Ben Chapman at Ben.Chapman@wsj.com and Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the October 15, 2020, print edition as 'Two Senior Officials Leaving City Posts.'

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Michael Goodwin: Better to Have de Blasio's Incompetency Than Someone Else in Charge

 

                         NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

Three reasons NYC is stuck with Bill de Blasio’s unbelievable incompetence: Goodwin

Michael Goodwin, NY POST, September 23, 2020

With his refusal to crack down on crime and inability to get schools and restaurants fully opened, Mayor Bill de Blas­io has reached new depths of incompetence at exactly the wrong time. It’s one thing to be a dud when there is room for error, but this is an emergency, and the future of New York is growing ever more gloomy.

The mayor’s performance is so awful and the quality of life in such sharp decline that many New Yorkers who fled the pandemic have no plans to come back. Fears that the city is headed for a cliff are contagious and are leading to more frequent calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to remove de Blasio from office.

With no reason to believe the mayor is capable or determined to make things better, it’s tempting to join the chorus. The siren song is all the more seductive when you realize de Blasio’s term doesn’t end until Jan. 1, 2022, leaving him plenty of time to do more damage.

I am among those who relish the thought of de Blasio getting ejected from City Hall. In an instant, New York would be rid of its worst mayor ever.

Alas, reality interrupts the reverie. Despite the reasons to wish Cuomo would act, there are even better reasons to hope he doesn’t. Here are three.

First, de Blasio would be replaced by the public advocate, Jumaane Williams, who stands first in line of succession under the City Charter.

De Blasio is the first public advocate to be elected mayor, and his lack of experience at running anything has been revealed as a fatal flaw. Williams has that same lack of experience and a history of extreme anti-police activism that is exactly what the city doesn’t need during a surge in murder and shootings.

New York desperately needs a mayor who treasures the NYPD, not another one who trashes it. And on other critical issues, such as taxes and education, there is no reason to believe Williams would be an improvement.

Reason No. 2 for not supporting a Cuomo intervention is Cuomo himself. He is part of the reason people are fleeing.

He signed into law the so-called bail reforms that helped fuel the crime surge. He has been missing in action on reopening schools, effectively giving the teachers union a veto by saying, “Teachers have to feel safe.” He never gave subway or hospital workers that option.

The biggest mark against Cuomo is his calamitous policy of sending infected COVID patients to nursing homes, and his heartless refusal to own the death and grief it caused.

The Empire Center is suing his office to get the facts about how many nursing home residents actually died of the virus. Shamefully, the governor and his Health Department are hiding the data, almost certainly because it would reveal how they manipulated statistics. They also concocted a phony report to blame staff members for spreading the killer virus.

They concede that COVID killed some 6,600 people in long-term care facilities, but conveniently changed their counting method as the numbers soared. The best guess is that at least 10,000 died after getting infected in the facilities.

Moreover, Cuomo’s entire tenure leaves much to be desired. He’s been in office since 2011, and New Yorkers across much of the state were voting with their feet long before the pandemic over high taxes, rampant corruption and poor public services.

Reason No. 3 for resisting a quick hook for de Blasio is the terrible precedent it would set. The only comparable case came in 1932, when FDR, months before he was elected president, forced the flamboyant — and utterly corrupt — Mayor Jimmy Walker to resign.

That was the height of the Depression and Walker admitted to taking large amounts of cash from business owners while denying they were bribes. He agreed to leave office with more than a year remaining in his second term.

The big difference now is that there are no known criminal investigations of de Blasio, let alone pending charges. The feds probed pay-to-play allegations in his first term, but didn’t indict him, largely because they couldn’t find evidence he put any money in his own pocket.

Being a lousy mayor isn’t a crime, and the idea of substituting the decision of a governor for the will of voters simply because the mayor is widely seen as failing is generally repugnant. Once you start down that road, how do you resist the urge to regularly undo elections?

De Blasio, it should be noted, won both of his terms in landslides. Although turnout was only about 25 percent in both 2013 and 2017, he got nearly 800,000 votes the first time and about 725,000 the second time.

Those are very respectable numbers, similar to those Michael Bloomberg got in his first two elections and far above the 585,000 votes Bloomy got while winning his third term.

So the fault lies with those New Yorkers who voted for de Blasio, or not at all. Their choices surely are making life worse for most of them as well as for the rest of us.

Voters will get another chance next year. Until then, a great Ed Koch line seems appropriate for our suffering.

After his 1989 defeat as he sought his fourth term in City Hall, Koch was asked if he would ever run again. No, he said, then added, “The people have spoken and they must be punished.”

Game on in key Big Ten states

It’s the Big Ten election.

In some ways, the political battle over a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg changes everything. In another way, it changes nothing.

The race for the White House still depends on the outcome in the same handful of swing states. Most are in the heartland — and have colleges in the Big Ten athletic conference.

As CNN recently reported: “President Donald Trump got his football wish: The Big Ten college football conference will begin playing in late October. Trump had been pushing for the league, which has schools in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, among others, to start playing and had talks with the league. The league previously announced a suspension of its schedule.”

Trump’s intervention came after Joe Biden ran ads showing empty stadiums and blaming the president for the shutdown. “Let’s get back in the game,” the ad concluded.

Unfortunately for Biden, Trump did just that by helping to get the Big Ten to play ball.

NY’s US senators are good … for nothing

Reader Judith Levine believes New York’s rot is not limited to Cuomo and de Blasio, writing: “We also have two useless senators. In fact, is Kirsten Gillibrand still a senator?

“The city is in its death throes and not a peep from them. Chuck Schumer comes out of his hole every Sunday to rail against Trump, then goes back into hiding. They have done nothing for the city or state.”