Principal to teacher: Stop hurting my 'little black chldren'

Same principal also accused of sexual harassment and previously suspended and found guilty in NYCDOE arbitration court. So what? He continued working for years.

Cindy Grosz, | updated: 15:10

Cindy Grosz
Cindy Grosz
INN:CG

Antonio K'Tori of P.S. 15, the Jackie Robinson School, Queens, NY, had a very "questionable" history of employment and leadership since 2005.  Yet, despite open anti-Semitic remarks, sexual advances to staff, guilty verdicts within a New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) legal hearing, and ties to a teacher sitting in jail, after a conviction of sexually abusing four little girls, K'Tori was on the job for years, until March.  The NYCDOE quietly removed K'Tori, not for anti-Semitism, but for using his administrative time to make additional income from a private business. 

Shocked? Surprised? Why Should Jews Care?

All Jews, and non-Jews should care for multiple reasons.  Could you imagine that remark made to and/or about another group by another administrator?  What is the hiring and firing practice within this school? Does this "policy" exist in other public schools?  Is it just teachers affected, or  other staff and programs, such as occupational and physical therapists?

Regardless of your religious observance or political party preference, YOUR tax dollars are paying for this.  Private day school and homeschooling families pay federal, state, city, county and sales taxes, depending on where they live.

What Can Be Done?

According to a recent finding by reporter Susan Edelman, published in the New York Post on May 19, 2018, after extensive research, based on the New York State law, educators with tenure can not be brought up on disciplinary charges more than three years after their alleged misconduct.  Thus, administrators like Antonio K'Tori has an advantage in two ways.  He can bring "bogus charges" into the NYCDOE "kangaroo court" and have teachers like Lawrence Brenner fired, telling Brenner that his teaching will "hurt his little black children." Educators like Brenner can and have filed lawsuits in Federal and New York State Federal Courts, only to be left with suits long enough to protect principals, and/or settlements that cost the public huge amounts of settlement money with confidentiality clauses that benefit the NYCDOE.  

The loophole helps explain why principals have kept their six-figure NYCDOE jobs despite multiple sex-harassment complaints and millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded settlements paid to accusers.  “It’s a terrible burden on the teachers who are complaining, and a terrible burden on taxpayers, because we have to pay large amounts to settle these cases — and then the salaries of the principals in perpetuity,” said education advocate Leonie Haimson.

Was Lawrence Brenner the teacher K'Tori described in termination papers?  Since his firing, no one in any of Brenner's employment situations had these complaints and expressed such anti-Semitic and Racist hate.  Brenner is described as a devoted family man who was a victim of a bad circumstance.  Brenner had the unfortunate situation of being assigned to a learning environment that tested its ability be fair.  Brenner was teaching under a questionable administrator and district superintendent, a bias evaluation system and  multiple public school policies that were not followed, investigated and executed accurately.

History

Lawrence Brenner, recalled several remarks made by Principal Antonio K’Tori.  Brenner cites three remarks, involving three Jewish teachers who have since left the NYCDOE. When one asked to leave an hour early on erev Rosh Hashanah, K’Tori reportedly remarked, “Why do you need all these days off for Jewish holidays?” Another incident occurred around Christmas and Chanukah, when the teacher saw a decorated tree paid for with school funds. They asked, “Where is the menorah?” And the response was, “If you want one, go buy it yourself.” As previously aforementioned, it has been documented in the press that K’Tori told several staff members that white instructors were “hurting his little black children," including Brenner.

K’Tori has Issues a decade before. He was found guilty in 2005 after a removal from his position and an arbitration hearing for deviating from the Standard Operating Procedures Manual in the procurement of goods or services in six incidents and insubordination for refusing to revise his performance review in a timely manner.

He was also found guilty of insubordination for ignoring the lottery process by trying to recruit students to the school, refusing to sign a letter telling parents their children were admitted by mistake and for returning to the schoolgrounds after being told not to.

His punishment was removal to another school.

Antonio K’Tori had been the principal of PS15 in Springfield Gardens for years.  He was named in a lawsuit in 2014 for making advances to teacher Shante Penniston and threatened her when she did not respond to them. He told he had all the power because he was a man.  He started making advances to her when she started teaching at the school in 2012.

K’Tori was the supervisor of teacher Simon Watts, a former fourth-grade teacher of PS 15, who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for convictions for three counts of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of forcible touching and five counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  These incidents took place between 2007-2010. Meanwhile, last month, one of several 8- and 9-year-old girls allegedly molested by teacher Simon Watts at PS 15 between 2007 and 2009 won a $16 million jury award against the city. Parents blamed the DOE and K’tori for “negligent supervision.” Watts is serving a 35-year prison term. The city is appealing the verdict.

His immediate supervisor was superindent Lenon Murray, himself the plaintiff in several lawsuits. Why was Lenon Murray able to keep his positions as both a principal and superintendent in District 29 for many years, despite rumors of multiple scandals and complaints from staff, students and parents to the NYCDOE investigation offices and to both the teachers and supervisors unions?  Murray himself made unwanted sexual advances to staff who were promised a safe and supportive work environment? He was finally arrested for groping a subordinate co-worker after four years of “sexual solicitations and talk on an almost daily basis,” according to reports.

Under his leadership, principals in several schools warmed Jewish staff members of possible negative ramifications, including poor year-end evaluations leading to possible terminations as witnessed in staff meetings and notes.  

The Next Steps

We must demand the following:

Oversight in the hiring and firing practices for Jewish staff.  While some deserve to be fired, many qualified staff are not hired or are terminated unfairly for being Jewish.  

We need a more cost-effective and accountable, transparent evaluation system.

We must demand more disciplinary action of staff who have connections with anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist lessons, remarks and materials shared in a classroom environment.

Hold unions accountable for having the knowledge and doing nothing with it.  Silence is as good as supporting it.

Contact your elected officials and candidates and tell them your disgust.

It might be too late for Lawrence Brenner, but his students were the biggest losers.

Education is a nonpartisan issue that needs bipartisan support.

Cindy Grosz can be reached at @cindyscorners@gmail.com.


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