“Retired” abusive administrator reappears
It’s usually enough for a bad administrator to leave the system – we are rid of them and their behavior – though for the sheer numbers of abusive and/or incompetent principals and assistant principals in New York City today, one at a time seems hardly enough.
And if they reappear, but elsewhere, as the disgraced former principal of Bronx Science recently has, we might like to point it out, but it does not become our immediate problem.
However, we know that issues of abuse, incompetence, and less than forthcoming statements often accompany each other. And when we can document statements that seem in hindsight to veer from the facts…
Last year, a scandal over hazing of younger athletes by older athletes broke at Bronx Science. There were allegations that administrators, up to the top, were aware. And in the midst of the investigation, the principal announced her retirement.
Now, it wasn’t as if that was the first controversy she’d encountered. Under her stewardship, the atmosphere for teachers at the elite school at deteriorated. Faculty turnover was far higher than at any other specialized high school in NYC. Teachers, bristling under her arbitrary and authoritarian leadership, and noticing that she used an honorary degree to start adding “Doctor” to the front of her name, ran a quack campaign – with ducks, that was then repeated in several versions as student pranks. A special complaint of harassment was brought against the principal and one of her assistants – and an arbitrator found for the teachers. She weathered those storms, though it seemed that she continued to stay out of spite for her subordinates.
In any event, you have a chance to compare what she says today, as she takes a new job, with her reasons for leaving, which she claimed had nothing to do with controversy or an investigation:
“This July I was appointed as principal of Maria Regina High School. I am honored to accept … after spending thirty-five years at the Bronx High School of Science where I was the principal for twelve years, an assistant principal of science for three years and a science teacher for twenty years … As an educator, my goal has always been to excite students about learning and support them as they work to attain their educational goals. As an administrator, I know that I cannot and do not work toward this end alone. I, as principal, am a member of a community. It is only with the work of gifted teachers, involved parents and motivated students that success can be achieved … What I have learned through my years as an administrator is that leadership is a humbling experience…
The principal, Valerie J. Reidy, who took over in 2001 after 23 years of teaching and managing at the school, said she was under no pressure from city education officials and was “not under investigation” in connection with the arrests of three track team members, all juniors, in March.
“Was I happy about the track debacle? No,” Ms. Reidy said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “But is there ever going to be a perfect time?”
Ms. Reidy cited her age — she will turn 65 on Nov. 28 — and financial and family concerns for her decision. Her husband, James, retired two years ago from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and one of her sons is set to wed in September. She wants to sell her house in Westchester County and travel more….