New York City investigating claims of deplorable conditions at school

Art McFarland reports that parents say the school is not up to their standards after Sandy.
January 13, 2014 7:49:47 PM PST
The new New York City schools chancellor is promising action in response to a scathing report about conditions at a school in Queens.

Carmen Farina sent her deputy chancellor to investigate claims that PS 106 in Far Rockaway lacks teaching materials and staff.

According to the New York Post, the school hasn't received books for the Common Core curriculum since Superstorm Sandy. The school was heavily damaged in the storm, and an annex building that housed classrooms was destroyed.

"Science used to be my favorite subject when it was there," fifth grader Heaven Talavera said. "But the science teacher left, and then there was no more science."

The report also says the school building is in disrepair and the principal is often absent.

There are also allegations of a bizarre mandatory dance in which fifth grade students were required to dress up as brides and grooms at a cost of more than $100 per child.

Students and parents say they don't have the necessary materials or classroom space to get a proper education.

Parents claim the principal does not have a professional appearance, is often dismissive of their needs and is rarely available.

"I've never had a conversation with her," mom Kay Talavera said. "I've seen her here and there. I saw her on the first day of school, when she has to be there. But other than that, I've never seen her."

"When you deal with the parents, there's never a smile," mom Nicole Mays said. "It's always with a mean face and stuff like that. So I look away. I stay away from her."

Some parents also complained about the pricey graduation outing where the kids wear bridal-style gowns and tuxedos. Others say it's beneficial for low-income students to see how the other half lives.

New York City Councilman Donovan Richards is calling for a full investigation into all of the claims.

"This is a school that's restructured and rebuilding. The biggest issue we're hearing is communication, and I think that's something that we're going to speak to the chancellor and the principal about."

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina released a statement saying, "When I read the reports of the conditions at P.S. 106 in Queens, I immediately deployed Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson to get the facts on what is going right and wrong at this school. We acted swiftly ? and we are going to continue to do so. Deputy Chancellor Gibson reported that there is significant room for organizational improvement, but that classrooms are orderly, teachers are dedicated, and students are learning. Going forward, I will have field staff at the school weekly to make sure those organizational changes occur. We are going to relentlessly support this school and marshal our resources until we see the results we expect for our students. "