Petition update

CPE1 suffers another blow, please help

Save CPE1
United States

Feb 22, 2017 — Dear Supporters of Central Park East 1 School:

The note that follows was sent to our community this past weekend. Marilyn is Marilyn Martinez, a dedicated 11-year veteran teacher of the school. The children of CPE1 are truly suffering as Superintendent Alexandra Estrella --a new superintendent, promoted in 2014 despite a checkered past marred by a test cheating scandal -- and Monika Garg -- a new principal with an equally dubious past -- continue to attempt to destroy CPE1 with no regard for the children’s well-being. CPE1's community is only surviving at all because of the hard work of our families and the dedication and bravery of our Marilyn.

The decision to remove Marilyn is the superintendent’s. In an attempt to direct responsibility and heat to someone else, Garg “claims” that she does not support this decision. However, we are skeptical. They have always worked together.

What is apparent is that there is a systematic attempt to decimate this bastion of progressive education in Harlem and to destroy the careers of dedicated teachers. If you can, please advocate for the school with letters. UFT support will be particularly important, as will the support of local community leaders. Thank you. The support of so many helps us keep going. It has been a long hard, 20 months. Without you, we could not have persevered.

The note that we received follows…

Dear CPE1 Community:

As elected parent representatives we are reaching out to acknowledge the anxiety and turmoil that the recent removal of a teacher from the classroom has brought. We are also hoping to offer tools to help people as we navigate this situation.

Marilyn is a born and bred CPE1 teacher who has shown a level of dedication and commitment to this school that is extraordinary. Her absence will resonate in every corner of CPE1.

Although we do not know the details of what led the DOE to feel it necessary to remove her from her classroom, we have been told that the safety and security of our children has not been compromised and it is not in relationship to pedagogical practices in the classroom. What we do know is that Marilyn's absence will heavily compromise our already vulnerable school and make any forward progress that we've been struggling to make, extremely difficult.

Marilyn is the UFT chapter leader for the teachers and paraprofessionals at CPE1. She is on the SLT and has been an integral part of providing support for our new teachers. She is on the hiring committee. She is our liaison to the PROSE program. She is a strong advocate and example of CPE1 style progressive education. She has her own child at our school. From the type of case it seems to be, there is the possibility that Marilyn could potentially lose her license to teach.

We have consulted several DOE and UFT veterans who have commented that this is unusual: to remove a teacher with a misconduct concern who is not accused of impropriety/endangering their students from the classroom at this point. From our reading of regulations and consultation with those with knowledge of the system, it appears that the discretion to do so rests with the superintendent who usually takes recommendation from the principal.

Marilyn and Jim have a class of young students, a number of whom have individual circumstances that desperately require consistency in their school life. While, thankfully, there are plans to support the class with additional personnel and emotional support, it does not change the fact that reassigning Marilyn does not seem to take into account what is best for our children.

If you have the same concerns, we encourage you to send positive letters emphasizing this and focused on Marilyn's contributions to our school and classrooms to the following people. If you can, please write direct letters, using the addressees name. They are more likely to receive a response. (Alexandra Estrella, District 4 Superintendent) (Carmen Farina, Chancellor) (Serbia Silva, UFT representative) (Karen Alford, NYC UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools) (Dwayne Clark, UFT Manhattan Borough Representative)

On another note, we know that many are weary, demoralized and emotionally exhausted at fighting for our children and our school community. We are too. As we work and talk with other PA councils in the area, we find that many are not able to mobilize support when they suffer similar issues at their schools, and their children suffer the consequences. When our school community advocates for our children, we also give strength and support to others in this area, not just through our own struggle but through support for them. We've received positive feedback from the DOE and politicians for the mindful tone in which we advocate. Thank you for your strength in advocating for your children, our staff, this school and this local community.

Please reach out (confidentially) with any questions or concerns.

The letter was signed by the SLT Co-President and the Parent Association Co-Presidents.

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