School reform has led to a major increase in the number of new schools created since the Bloomberg era. Jamaica High School was one school that was phased out and now the building that once was Jamaica houses four small schools. Evidence continues to build that the Department of Education did not improve the overall education in the building when they closed Jamaica.
Carlos Borrero is one of the Bloomberg era principals who was appointed to run the High School for Community Service, one of the four new schools that took over the Jamaica High School building. The New York Post reported on Saturday that Mr. Borrero has been named in a major lawsuit. Some details:
A Queens Principal allegedly dangled a strip club jaunt to a group of students in 2012 if they focused on their schoolwork, according to a Brooklyn federal suit.
The allegation is part of a civil lawsuit from a former staffer at the High School For Community Leadership in Jamaica who claims it was part of a pattern of behavior in which principal Carlos Borrero also encouraged her to wear provocative clothes in order to command attention from her charges.
Stacey Long claims she refused to play ball and that she was eventually forced to resign as a literacy teacher, court papers state.
While this is just an allegation that needs to be proven in court, nobody who was at Jamaica the last four years is very surprised by this. In my dealings with Principal Borrero, I found him to be rather averse to following the rules although my business with him concerned completely different matters when compared to the lawsuit.
Back in 2011, he decided that his kids didn't need to walk to the student restroom so he just had them use the third floor teacher's restroom instead. Some Jamaica High School teachers, who at the time still worked on a portion of the third floor where Borrero's school is housed, complained so we filed a safety grievance. In response, Mr. Borrero refused to meet with us. I remember him hiding and only agreeing to talk to a Special Representative from the Queens UFT office.
We easily won the grievance but in subsequent years when we had grievances over athletics in the building and had to go to Mr. Borrero who was in charge of Public School Athletic League activities, I sensed he was not looking to resolve situations amicably. Some of the teachers from his school came down to the Jamaica High School UFT office looking for union assistance for non athletic matters too. To be fair, I do recall he ran a very good pep rally that enhanced school spirit. My guess is he has his supporters.
Yet a staffer who is still working in the Jamaica building got in touch with me Saturday to say that if it was a teacher who was charged for doing what Mr. Borrero allegedly did regarding the strip club, the teacher would have been removed from the building faster than the blink of an eye. That is exactly what happened last year when a teacher from the Hillside Arts and Letters Academy (another new school in the Jamaica building) was caught in an internet sex sting. He was removed from the building immediately and a plea deal was struck this year.
We completely agree that the serious charges warranted severe action since the DOE is supposed to have a zero tolerance policy for any sexual misconduct but it appears administrators are held to a much lower standard than teachers. The blogger Chaz has written extensively about the DOE double standard when disciplining administrators compared to teachers. One thing the two incidents have in common was they both involved DOE employees who worked at the building that was once Jamaica High School.
There have been other occurrences at the Jamaica campus showing that the DOE has done nothing to improve the climate in the building after they decided to phase out Jamaica High School. At another new school in the building, Queens Collegiate, there was a release of pepper spray by students back in 2013. It happened again this year causing a dozen students to be sent to the hospital. There was also the lockdown of the building this past winter because of alleged intruders who turned out to be students sneaking into the school. Funny how the media still attributed this problem to Jamaica High School even though the school no longer exists.
I could go on and on writing about other incidents Jamaica staff witnessed before we were exiled from the building that never made it to the media but I think readers get the point.
A record is mounting showing that the four new schools that replaced Jamaica High School are no better than the traditional Jamaica High School. I will repeat what I said in January that the building is actually worse off as four schools compared to one. Saturday's NY Post story on Principal Borrero is just another piece of evidence substantiating that claim.
It is time for the DOE to restart comprehensive neighborhood high schools. Jamaica should have never been closed nor should have many others. If justice ever returns to our school system, Jamaica will be one of the first to be reborn.