Our Executive Board correspondent informs us that the chapter presented its arguments at the UFT Executive Board meeting this past Monday. 85% of a chapter is a pretty strong no-confidence statement. We stand with this chapter fully.
Please no CSA apologists saying I don't have all the facts. When 85% of a chapter agrees that something is wrong with leadership, that should be more than sufficient to get the UFT, kind of like the cavalry, to come charging in to save their members. This resolution goes back to last April so as of now my understanding is the cavalry did come in but they need a more significant charge.
VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
PRINCIPAL TANYA DRUMMOND
Public School X211
Dear Esteemed Superintendent J. Rosado,
We, the undersigned educators of Public School X211, are writing to express a “Vote of No Confidence” for Principal Tanya Drummond based on her failure to lead our staff, run our school, and most importantly create an environment conducive to educating students.
CS 211 has historically been a school characterized by collaborative decision-making and synergy. Collectively, we prioritized students’ learning and benefited from visionary leadership of our administration who consistently respected and support teachers. For reasons set forth below, we seek to shed light on the tenure of Principal Tanya Drummond that has resulted in our expression of a “Vote of No Confidence”.
1) Hostile Work Environment
Principal Drummond’s behavior towards both staff and students has created a toxic and hostile work environment. Resulting from this toxicity, teacher turnover rate at 211 has increased drastically under Principal Drummond. Moreover, there is an unprecedented number of teachers that anticipate leaving at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year due to Principal Drummond’s antagonistic and erratic behavior.
Most notably, Principal Drummond’s comments communicate a disregard for teacher turnover and consequently, student learning. For instance, she has commented numerous times publicly “everyone is replaceable”; “CS 211 is like a revolving door”, and “the grass isn’t greener on the other side” apropos of staff leaving. Furthermore, she told students in the auditorium, “when you complained and didn't like a teacher, I got rid of her.” Additionally, germane to the collective bargaining agreement during a professional development, she told staff that “contracts are meant to be broken.” She routinely tells teachers in need of support that they should “start making plans elsewhere for next year”, threatening to discontinue staff, and thus threatening the careers and livelihood of educators. These comments have created a school culture replete with disengagement, apathy, and hostility that affect student learning.
Throughout the past school years we have had many concerns regarding Principal Drummond’s leadership, specifically regarding trust, collaboration, decision making, her lack of respect for parents and staff, and communication. This year she continues to regularly belittle and discipline staff members in front of students, colleagues, parents, and fellow administrators. She has made numerous concerning comments to staff members including but not limited to:
- “I’m going for the jugular!”
- “These paras are dead weight!”
- “I am not going down without a fight!”
- “This is all the adult’s fault! There is only a few adults who are on the right team!”
- “I am the Principal! I have the power to deny your tenure or take it away!”
- “I am tenured! I will always have a job!”
- “I don’t beat kids and I don’t steal money, so I am not losing my job.”
- “The only reason we moved out of the red [academic data] in my first few years was because I was a bi-otch.”
- Proposing to teachers that letters to file can be removed if teachers chose to speak positively of Principal Drummond.
Principal Drummond bullies teachers with lengthy observations, continuous visitations without providing meaningful and consistent feedback, and both criticizing staff publicly and privately. She consistently blames the staff for the behavior problems in the school. In the middle school, the students run through hallways, skip class, use inappropriate language at and about each other as well as teacher’s, fight in the classroom, and disrespect authorities. In the elementary grades, students often run out of classes, have fights in the classrooms and in the cafeteria, run on desks, flip chairs, and also disrespect authority figures. Elementary and middle school students receive little to no consequences for the disruptive and at times dangerous behavior that interrupts learning. Instead, teachers are both privately and publicly blamed for the behavior of the students. Teachers and paraprofessionals are threatened or discouraged to file safety reports because “it would draw the wrong attention to our school and identify our school as unsafe!” We are here to say that our school is in fact unsafe. Teachers report inconsistently being able to contact the office via multiple extensions to inform administration about severe behaviors. When asked for more support in the halls, Principal Drummond states this is impossible. However, she always has school aides strategically positioned throughout the complexes to monitor and prevent hallway chaos when it is time for her own PPO.
Leaders seek to be collaborative and encourage others. Unfortunately, Principal Drummond demonstrates a repetitive pattern of seeking to divide and conquer. She frequently speaks badly about teachers behind their back and in front of other teachers. She also seeks to discredit the union leader at our school thus undermining our union solidarity.
Principal Drummond inappropriately uses pre-observation and post-observation time to express her chagrin, irritation, and anger about DTOE (Don’t Tread on Educators Blog), instead of providing meaningful feedback for teachers. The forum currently has 100 comments and replies which detail how staff at 211 is treated by Principal Drummond.
Principal Drummond this year aims to, in her own words, “protect herself.” This has manifested in the form of giving out an alarming amount of 48-hour notices for disciplinary meetings. She has escalated this in recent months to include an increased number of letters to file, many times negating teachers the right to have adequate union representation, as well as an opportunity to defend themselves. Many times, Principal Drummond chooses to ignore the Step 1 hearings. A concerning number of these 48-hour notices were unwarranted and in several instances, in direct breach of teacher contract. For instance, Principal Drummond may claim that teachers are unplanned, but according to Article 8E of the teacher’s contract, they had in fact been planned.
While Principal Drummond claims to have an “open door policy”, there have been many documented instances in which Principal Drummond has demonstrated retaliatory behavior in response to those that raise concerns directly to her. Resulting from the extremely hostile and toxic work environment created under Principal Drummond, there have been numerous documented instances of staff falling ill with anxiety-related symptoms. Staff is constantly uneasy both in and outside of work worrying that, for one reason or another, they may quickly and undeservingly be targeted by Principal Drummond.
Furthermore, according to last year’s school perception survey, only 39% of teachers trust Principal Drummond. However, the 2018-2019 school survey should indicate a sharp decline of this already disconcerting statistic.
2) Student Learning
Principal Drummond claims that it is “all about the students” yet offers them absolutely no extracurricular activities. Our school has no CS211 sports teams, no performances, no clubs, no assemblies (besides being in the auditorium so students can be spoken at by Principal Drummond regarding poor behavior), and no opportunities to ever celebrate our students. The only “extra-curricular” type of activities are provided in after-school via Children’s Aid Society for only a part of our student population. Our students and community once had opportunities to express their artistic attributes through shows, concerts, ballroom dancing, and marching band. However, during Principal Drummond’s tenure, all of these types of activities dissipated along with her regard for school culture. Not only are these types of activities age appropriate, but also are developmentally appropriate for our Pre-K-8 students. Depriving students of opportunities to express themselves via exploratory and extracurricular programs negates students’ ability to access a well-rounded student-centered education. As such, student cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development and growth is impeded.
Principal Drummond fails to implement programs and curriculums effectively thus hindering student learning and adversely affecting school culture. She boasts that our school offers many social-emotional related programs for students. The reality is that money was spent on programs like Leader In Me, Brain Power, the Vision Committee, etc. However, all have failed in consistent implementation and effectiveness. PBIS was intended to be launched months ago but like other programs, once an urgent priority is now delayed. Principal Drummond defends curricular choices, for example by stating that we are a “pseudo-TC” school. However, our middle school ELA team has had no consistent reading curriculum during Principal Drummond’s tenure; she may claim that teachers have access to TC reading curriculum however this is false. Inconsistency in following through with programs, as well as curriculums, is a chronic illness at CS211, one that under Principal Drummond has no remedy.
In addition, the needs of students with an IEP are not properly met. Principal Drummond routinely amends IEPs to meet her scheduling needs which negatively impacts student learning. For instance, when ICT classes due to ratios are maxed, or about to be maxed out, students’ IEPs will be amended to SETSS (even if they still should have ICT). In 2016, Principal Drummond orchestrated a mass amendment period at CS211 where all ICT students’ IEPs were amended to remove science and social studies ICT periods, as she did not have a science and social studies special education teacher(s) on staff. Her rationale for misinformed parents was that science is a “hands-on class” so their child’s specialized learning style and needs will be met. Additionally, Principal Drummond claimed she would offer protected time for SESIS during after school PD time, however only does so for certain tenured teachers. Other teachers are forced to do SESIS encounter attendance, write IEPs, and complete mandated IEP work on their personal unpaid time which is in direct violation of the teacher’s contract.
3) Racial and Cultural Insensitivity
Principal Drummond frequently interjects at professional development disrupting the learning and engagement of teachers. Many times, her comments are inappropriate. For instance, during the latest PBIS presentation at PD, she interjected and engaged in a near 15-minute monologue that included but was not limited to stating how our students are “Dominican poor”, identifying in front of the whole staff specific students in school who are struggling emotionally, and including a factually inaccurate history of MS-13 alluding to how our immigrant students are possibly escaping hardships like this in their native countries. Principal Drummond’s inability to stay on topic in her interjections results in staff being confused, frustrated, and wishing they had more time to attend to other teacher duties for the betterment of our students. Although Principal Drummond intends to connect with her staff via personal story sharing, her connections are superficial and limited to her sharing about her salary, how she is a strict parent, and how she lives in a desired neighborhood in the Bronx.
We believe that Principal Drummond has failed to abide by her mission statement as she has not created a safer school environment. Rather, she has created a toxic environment for both students and staff. Without the recognition of mistakes or the willingness to listen to her own trained competent teachers, there is no hope for learning or improvement and thus no way forward.
We feel she has a lack of attention to preparation for, or appropriate prioritizing of, the academic requirements and interests of our entire student body, as well as a failure to recognize and respect the expertise of the educational professionals in the building.
We feel she has inconsistency in application of rules and an ongoing of respect toward many of the staff. A school cannot be run successfully with a one-way avenue of communication. Even when input is sought, there is a failure to follow through or a total disregard for the ideas of many; when communication occurs, it is too often delayed and incomplete.
In closing, in the words of Principal Drummond, “it’s all about the kids.” For this reason, as well as the reasons stated above, we the undersigned express our “Vote of No Confidence” for Principal Tanya Drummond. We believe that you Superintendent Rosado, as a valued educational leader and role model, will act in the best interest of children. We advocate on behalf of ourselves, 211 students, and 211 families in saying that we are in need of, and deserving of, a change in leadership.
I sign below in hopes for a resolution to our concerns and for the future of CS 211.
______________________________________________ Date: ________________