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Parents, teachers want UWS principal out amid race-charged revolt

A racially-charged revolt has erupted at a high-performing Upper West Side public faculty, with embattled Principal Claire Lowenstein hit together with her second no-confidence vote in simply two years.

Of a complete 154 staffers and oldsters polled final week, 132 — about 86 p.c — voted no confidence in Lowenstein’s management of PS 333 on West 94th Street, in response to teachers who performed the question.  Ballots have been forged by 85 mother and father, however some voted greater than as soon as — they have been allowed one vote for every little one they’ve within the faculty.

Among numerous complaints, the survey alleges that Lowenstein has employed too many white teachers and never sufficient college of shade in a “years-long campaign of discriminatory hiring practices.” 

The racial divide in staffing in one of many metropolis’s most liberal neighborhoods “is the root cause of a lot of tensions,” say teachers who organized the vote in hopes the DOE will take away her.

“Principal Claire Lowenstein has lost the support and respect of parents, staff and the larger PS 333 community. She has failed to put the needs of the children first, and her divisive leadership has hurt students and faculty alike,” mentioned instructor Raphael Tomkin, the college’s chapter chief for the United Federation of Teachers.  

P.S. 333 Manhattan School for children, 154 west 93rd Ave
A survey alleges that Lowenstein has employed too many white teachers and never sufficient college of shade at PS 333.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

Several mother and father who spoke to The Post mentioned the allegations don’t shock them. They described Lowenstein, who has led the college the previous eight years, as “a petty tyrant,” “combative” and “confrontational.” They worry she is driving good teachers away.

“If 80 percent of the teachers are frustrated and want to leave this school because of the principal, that’s all I need to know,” mentioned Brian Dunn, who has two daughters at PS 333. “Job one is to keep the best teachers here.”

Adam Kantor, whose 4th-grader attends PS 333, agreed: “I like the teachers and my daughter seems to enjoy the school. I just question an operation that allows someone with this many issues to stay in a leadership position. At some point, you’ve got to say enough is enough.”

Lowenstein didn’t reply to requests for remark, however Craig DiFolco, a spokesman for the principals’ union, blasted the unofficial no-confidence tally. 

“Principal Lowenstein is a dedicated, highly effective principal of a high performing school, and this survey has no merit,” DiFolco mentioned in a press release. “The individuals who orchestrated this attack cherry-picked a small portion of the community, led them to desired outcomes by misrepresenting facts, and allowed them to vote multiple times to further an inaccurate narrative. The DOE should investigate the organizers for misconduct.”

P.S. 333 Manhattan School for children
The pupil physique at PS 333 is 52 p.c white, 19 p.c Hispanic, 14 p.c black, and eight p.c Asian, in response to DOE knowledge.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

The survey additionally cites allegations that Lowenstein scolded college students who didn’t reply questions the best way she needed, and assigned a male special-ed paraprofessional to duties that included “toileting” and “changing the under-clothing” of a younger feminine pupil. She blamed a employees scarcity, the doc states.

The DOE mentioned the accusations on the failure to assign a everlasting feminine aide for the scholar are being investigated, saying  “Our most vulnerable students deserve the highest degree of care.”

In the first vote of no confidence performed by college members  in June 2019, the  survey cited “explicit bias against students and staff.” Lowenstein informed a black pupil, “Don’t bring your street problems into my school,” the survey alleged. She additionally allegedly did not assist an overtly homosexual instructor being harassed by older youngsters, the fees acknowledged. 

Enrollment on the Ok-8 faculty has dropped almost 24 p.c from 760 college students in 2014-15, Lowenstein’s first full yr as principal, to the present 579. DiFolco known as the drop “on par with citywide declines.”

The pupil physique is 52 p.c white, 19 p.c Hispanic, 14 p.c black and eight p.c Asian, in response to DOE knowledge.

Most of the teachers (40 of 47, or 85 p.c) are white. Of seven new teachers employed for fall, one is Hispanic, one Asian, and the remainder white. Lowenstein reviewed the functions of a variety of black male teachers offered by the non-profit group, NYC Men Teach. In the DOE, principals have the ultimate say in hiring selections.

“There is definitely a lack of representation that has contributed to a climate where families of color have felt uncomfortable or unwelcome,” mentioned Jonathan Goldman, who has two youngsters on the faculty.

In distinction, all however one among some 30 lower-paid aides are black, Hispanic and different non-whites.

Upper West Side school PS 333 principal Claire Lowenstein
Parents who spoke to The Post described Lowenstein as “a petty tyrant,” “combative” and “confrontational.”
MSC/Instagram

“Many paraprofessionals express to me they feel as though they are constantly being treated like ‘the help’ in a nearly all-white school,” a PS 333 instructor mentioned. 

But a black paraprofessional at PS 333 informed The Post that almost all classroom aides citywide are individuals of shade. “If you’re going to hire a paraprofessional, that’s who you’re going to get,” the aide mentioned.

“A lot of paras feel like they’re ‘the help.’ There are times I’ve felt that way,” the aide agreed, however added that it’s largely as a result of they work beneath teachers who run the school rooms.

“As far as discrimination is concerned, I completely disagree.”

Despite the tumult, the DOE mentioned it is going to proceed to assist Lowenstein and the college with additional consideration, and examine allegations

“All school communities deserve a culture that is supportive, trusting and open,”  spokesman Nathaniel Styer mentioned in response to questions “Along with intensive help from the district, we are putting in place interventions that work for the parents, staff and principal. We will continue our work with the PS 333 community to ensure all voices are heard and concerns are addressed.” 

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