Newark’s schools–where parent notices are torn up and bathroom conversations are monitored

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUpon
Daryn Martin
Daryn Martin

The  Newark school principals suspended for speaking publicly now have company.  The state-appointed administration has cracked down on a parent organization president taping up notices of a PTO meeting and a central office clerk talking on a cell phone while using the ladies’ room. Welcome to Newark’s schools, the Republic of Fear, where even using the potty can be monitored by spies for state-imposed superintendent Cami Anderson, who, in turn, has emerged as the latest of Gov. Chris Christie’s mini-me surrogate bullies to achieve notoriety—and shame.

Daryn Martin, the PTO president at Ivy Hill School, was “banned from all Newark Public School property,” including the school attended by his 10-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, at least until July 1. His future activity will be watched, he was told in a letter from Anderson’s lawyer, and, if he doesn’t behave  himself, a “subsequent ban” might be necessary.

The suspended clerk, Jacqueline Bostic, was, according to union sources, upset about the suspension of five principals and, during a visit to a lavatory at headquarters at 2 Cedar Street, was overheard expressing her dismay in a private conversation with an unidentified person. The sources said they did not know who turned the long-time school employee in or whether her conversation was picked up by a wire.

Martin and Bostic are now added to the list of critics of Anderson’s “One Newark” plan who have been disciplined in some form for objecting to a plan that would close or turn over to privately managed charter schools a third of the city’s schools. The others are H. Grady James, principal of Hawthorne Avenue School; Dorothy Handfield, principal of Belmont Runyon School; Tony Motley, principal of Bragaw Avenue School, and Deneen Washington, principal of Maple Avenue School. The four principals spoke at a Jan. 15 community forum in which they expressed opposition to “One Newark.”

Lisa Brown, the principal of the Ivy Hill School, did not attend the forum but was disciplined for supporting her school’s PTO president. “She couldn’t control what I did,” says Martin, “and now she has been punished.’’

The actions taken against the principals may have shocked those who naively believe freedom of expression still exists in the Republic of Fear. But the incidents involving Bostic and Martin have bizarre twists. Bostic did not speak openly against Anderson’s plans to sell publicly-owned real estate to private corporations like Pink Hula Hoop. Using the  bathroom is usually attended by an expectation of privacy. Sources did not know whether Bostic’s remarks were picked up by electronic eavesdropping equipment or were overheard by a school employee eager to weed out bad thoughts among her colleagues.

Electronic eavesdropping  equipment did play a minor, background  role in the confrontation between Martin and central office administrators at Ivy Hill School. Martin says he posted the notices of a PTO meeting on the school doors and then saw them being torn down by a man named Gary Beidleman, a special assistant at central office, and Tiffany Hardrick, an assistant superintendent.

Like many hired by Anderson—even Anderson herself—Beidleman formerly worked in New York City, first as the principal of a privatized school funded by—who else?—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Although the school was not terribly successful (parents complained about a lack of discipline), he got a job where Anderson worked, where Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf worked, and where the powers behind TEAM Academy Charter Schools worked–in the central office. Run by Joel Klein.

Until Beidleman started tearing down parent notices the other day, his only other moment of fame occurred when a New York City newspaper revealed that, as a principal in Brooklyn, he purchased and used secret video recording devices hidden in boom-boxes. The bigger scandal was that the purchase was made from a store operated by the New York City Department of Education—a store that  also sold sexually explicit materials. That’s the way of reform in Mike Bloomberg’s education department. Anything to make a buck.

Beidleman claimed he didn’t know the boom-boxes were actually secret cameras when he bought them.

The offending flier--is Cami afraid of words?
The offending flier–is Cami afraid of words?

Anyway, according to the letter given to Martin, the PTO president “confronted” Beidleman and Assistant Superintendent Tiffyany Hardrick “in a threatening manner.” The letter, written by Charlotte Hitchcock, then states:

“At that time, you argued with both Ms. Hardrick and Mr. Beidleman about a flyer, snatched the flyer from their possession and then assaulted Ms. Hardrick by pushing her body with your hands twice and then assaulted Mr. Beidleman by pushing his body with your hands as well.”

Martin, a church deacon, denies he assaulted anyone. He says Hardrick and Beidleman pushed him when he tried to recover the fliers torn from the doors.  Martin called the police to charge the central office administrators with assault—but Hardrick and Beidleman did not. Also, a report filed by a school security officer about the incident mentions an argument but no assault against two central office administrators.

I asked Matthew Frankel, the chief spokesman for Cami Anderson, about the incidents involving Martin and Bostic and this was his response:

“Please direct questions regarding Mr. Martin to the Newark Police Department. I am sure after your 50 years of fair and balanced reporting you would know that this is currently a police matter and I cannot comment.”

(I am accustomed to snarkiness and personal attacks from flacks in the Christie Administration. It’s their special way of avoiding the facts).

The Newark police have not come up with a complaint from Hardrick or Beidleman directed against Martin. If either were assaulted by Martin—a tall and imposing man—I am sure they would want to charge him with a crime.

So, why would high-priced talent like Hardrick and Beidleman come to the Ivy Hill School and tear down fliers posted by the school’s PTO president? Martin says the flier announced a regularly scheduled PTO meeting for the next evening and listed the agenda items. That, says Martin, is what provoked the confrontation.

The agenda items include “School Closings (Redesign),” “The Selling of NPSchools,” and “One Newark Games.”

“I guess they didn’t want us talking about their plans for us,’’ Martin says.

Anderson has yet to explain what “redesign” means but Ivy Hill is headed for it.

Martin is an organizer for District 1199J of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Workers. He is a deacon at New Hope Baptist Church in Jersey City.

“I’ve been taking my kids to school, bringing them inside, ever since the oldest started school,’’ says Martin, who adds he was most hurt when he learned he would not be able to see his son sing and read in a special commemoration of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I promised my son I’d be there,” he said. “That really hurt bad.”

20 comments

  1. Jeff Ballin

    Nice job Bob, glad to see you’ve turned from the Dark Side! Keep up the offensive against the anti-student, paternalistic, education for profit Christie, Cerf, Anderson regime.

    • YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW 7

      Very informative article. The NPS Superintendent Cami Anderson
      has delivered chaos time and time again. Just because she has the power to make life changing decisions that affect the livelihood of families most importantly the CHILDREN of these families. God is no respecter of persons. I suggest she reads James 2:9. I pray for her and her staff who bully people because they can. Obviously they know not what they do. Ms. Anderson you have a child. Be careful how you treat people. God is not pleased and HE is the vindicator of Righteousness!

  2. Barry Susman

    With more public school money being sent to private schools, Christie’s sop to those who put him in office is in full swing.The bosses have purchased our government. Methinks they bought it cheap.

  3. Newarkbluesman

    So the saga goes on a story of Cedar Street,With sex,lies,and video tapes 18 years of occupation and this is what the state came up with.The workers at cedar street,were once happy productive always there to help,now they suffer they are afraid to say good morning.Now in the newest twist teachers are being forced to hearings to answer questions about their principals..This all beats the bridge and Hoboken shakedown by a long mile.Well word is school open starts at 10am.There will be more.

  4. sshaffer

    Dear Mr. Braun:
    I guess I am missing something here. Whatever happened to those days when parent participation was an essential element of the Newark Public Schools?

    Since Mr. Brown is now banned from the Ivy Hill School, I guess that means the following: 1. He can no longer visit the school during scheduled Parent Open Houses ; 2. He can no longer visit the school to confer with his children’s teachers; 3. He cannot participate in any school parent teacher children activities like awards assemblies, and etc.; 4. He cannot attend his child’s graduation from the Ivy Hill School.

    Ouch!!!!!

    • Dana

      Is this legal? Can she really ban a parent from the school of his children? Can a clerk really be suspended for talking on the phone? Do any of these people have a lawyer? I can’t believe these actions could survive a day in court!?!

  5. Pingback: News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 - United Americans
  6. ellen rosner

    The administrators making these terrible decisions – YOU should be banned from school property. You should be banned from having anything to do with the delicate being of our children.
    You do nothing but harm.

  7. Shirley

    This madness has go to stop!! It should be parents decision on where we want our children to attend school. What makes a charter school better than public school education? Majority of those that hold positions in office probably came from public schools. If you want to redesign our education system bring back the fundamentals of providing quality teaching, meaning the the things that we were taught growing up!

  8. Tony

    This is disheartening but what can we expect from people who believe that the best way to help children is by leaving the classroom and telling others what they ought to do in the very classrooms where they had minimal success.

    One more thing if cami Anderson closes schools down does she loose her job? The schools under her watch have failed, she is closing them and turning them over to private companies who will “do a better job” what then is her role? This is similar to a company merger takeover. the CEO does not stay! They leave! Only in education do we keep the inflated salaries of these neophite managers and fire teachers and kick out parents with the promise of a better tomorrow for their children.

  9. Irene Recuber

    This is just another example of Christie’s wanting to squash the NJEA by turning poor performing districts into charter schools where there are no teachers’ associations and no tenure. He is a vindictive man!

    Bob Braun: The NJEA doesn’t represent Newark teachers but I get your point. Vindictiveness, yes, but profits for his friends and his wife’s friends on Wall Street also help a lot.

  10. P. Grunther

    I think every single parent in the school where Martin has been banned should keep their children out of school for the rest of a week as a protest in support of their PTO President. This is madness, not allowing a man to enter a school to talk to his children’s teachers or see them perform in an assembly. There would hopefully be national coverage if an entire school was boycotted as a protest against a decision barring a parent, deacon of his church (!) from a school building and maybe Christie would re-think his appointment of a bully as school superintendent. This is the last kind of coverage he needs or wants at this time…I don’t live in Newark, but I hope Newark parents stand up to this! BTW, teachers “can’t” strike in NJ but what can they do about children boycotting their school?

  11. Harriet Knevals

    Pick a day. Hey, pick two or more. Parents and children of all Newark’s public schools shouldn’t enter their schools until Anderson and her cronies are gone. Then they should gather in mass to demand that their voices be heard and heeded. Those grandiose charters probably won’t join in. Action speaks louder than words.

  12. Barbara Foster Abdur-Razzaq

    So the superintendent talks about the lack of funding and the dilapidated conditions in Newark Public schools, let’s see where she gets the funds for the lawsuits violating First Amendment Rights among other things!

  13. gt2125

    This kind of stuff has been going on in Newark for years. Unfortunately the school administrators have nobody to blame but themselves for the situation that they are in right now. Building administrators at the behest of their superiors have been following Christie’s agenda long before he was the governor!! They have denigrated teachers for years. Now they find themselves in the same situation that many of them have put teachers in. If I was not a strong union advocate I would say that poetic justice is being served. Unfortunately I know that Newark’s children and teachers are suffering under this administration. The NTU and CASA need to partner with the community to do whatever is necessary to have Cami Anderson removed.

  14. msdumu

    Having worked with Gary Beidleman for many years in NYC, these actions do not surprise me one bit. He was an aggressive, egotistical, bulsh-t master, who ran his school into the ground. Thank goodness he is no longer a principal, but it is still sad to see that he is still allowed in the field of education. What he did to the students at Foundations Academy in Brooklyn, NY was an atrocity and many of those students and teachers are still suffering from his lack of qualifications as administrator.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.