With one month to go before the new school year begins, some parents, staff and students at a College Point elementary school are seeking a change in leadership.
They say Jennifer Jones-Rogers, principal at PS 29, located at 125-10 23 Ave., harasses her staff, flouts legal requirements and bullies her students, and they want her removed.
Further, they accuse her of failing to follow the requirements of the special education law, including placing students in District 75 classrooms without parental consent and without individualized education programs.
Several teachers at the school said Jones-Rogers has failed to provide a copy of the building budget to the United Federation of Teachers chapter representative for the past two years. In the meantime, they say she has hired consultants and leads the school district in the amount spent on overtime.
The teachers also say Jones-Rogers failed to provide the necessary support to the teaching staff and accused her of violating several aspects of their collective bargaining agreement, though they did not go into detail on which aspects, and also taking punitive actions against teachers who complain. They also argue at least 25 staff members have quit in the last 3 years due to her management.
“The current administrator at our school has created a learning and working environment that is detrimental to all: Not willing to work with all parents, great teachers working in fear, services of students not being met, mismanagement of funds, good long-term teachers leaving,” Stephanie Flunory, a teacher at PS 29, said in a statement. “We are saying no more to mistreatment and mismanagement of students, parents and staff. We demand better leadership!”
Elizabeth Medina, a parent of a student at PS 29, said her experience at the school has left her cynical about the education system.
“I am so disappointed in the New York City school system,” she said. “Principal Jones-Rogers was permitted and continues to create a hostile environment, conducts verbal threats, intimidates, and creates terror at PS 29 which interferes with student performance, opportunities, mental and emotional well-being.”
In a statement released Monday, the DOE said it would look into the accusations.
“As always, we respond to parent concerns and complaints when we receive them,” the statement said. “The Department of Education is aware of the concerns and we will work with our various stakeholders to address any issues.”
Attempts to reach Jones-Rogers through the school and the DOE were unsuccessful, but Mark Cannizzaro, executive vice president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing principals and school administrators, threw his support behind Jones-Rogers in a statement released Monday.
“CSA is 100 percent behind PS 29’s principal Jennifer Jones-Rogers who is widely considered to be a fine school leader and has the total support of her supervisors,” he said. “This is a typical case of a handful of disgruntled people — and a politician who is looking to further his constituent base in an election season — ganging up on an effective school leader. Nowhere close to 25 faculty members have left the school in the last 3 years, by the way. We find this behavior to be in extremely poor taste.”
Since Jones-Rogers has been principal, the school has received Progress Report grades of A and B over the past two years and a Well-Developed on last year’s Quality Review, according to DOE records. A 2012 School Survey showed most PS 29 parents were satisfied with their child’s education and their opportunity for involvement.
The complaints caught the attention of College Point’s state senator and Democratic borough president candidate Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who held a rally last Friday morning demanding Jones-Rogers be fired.
“The fact that she was apparently allowed to flout requirements of the special education law, hire high-priced consultants without providing copies of the school budget, and violate the rights of teachers is a disgrace,” Avella said. “It is clear that the principal has lost control of the school. Her mistreatment of teachers and students has had a profound effect on not only those individuals but on the entire school environment as well.”
PS 29 serves kindergarten through fifth grade and also has a special education program. There are 733 students enrolled in the school.