To the Editor: Hank Schandel, the Principal of MS158Q, has been much in the news in recent weeks.
First, for suggesting students should decide for themselves when to submit assignments without needing to give a reason or ask a Teacher’s permission. Teacher-imposed deadlines would be unenforceable.
Second, that he allegedly took no action against a student who committed a sexual assault in school and in effect sat on his hands with bemused indifference as a father recounted his daughter’s agony at the hands of a predator.
Third, that he did nothing when another student was the victim of a videotaped savage assault by another student who had previously brutalized her last year, also without consequences. The victim is now petrified, school-phobic and home-bound as her tormentor attends school daily, re-living her jubilation with her peers.
That’s the tip of the iceberg at MS158Q, where the water runs deep.
The chaotic environment at Schandel’s mismanaged school spurred 500 community residents to demand answers from Department of Education officials at a Bayside meeting a few weeks ago. There has been no apparent change of policy at the school since.
It is impossible that this could be the case if there were a trace of competence and good-faith.
Since the school leadership disaster dovetailed into a public-relations disaster when the microphones and cameras were shut off and the Chancellor left the abbreviated meeting, there was plenty of time for positive communication and to lay the groundwork for healing.
Clearly there has been no desire and no effort, and therefore no improvement, neither from Schandel personally nor the DOE.
In fact, they have rubbed salt into the community’s wounds by not correcting or even addressing Schandel’s preposterous policy of discipline-abolition or counselling this stupendously unfit “school leader.”
The DOE missed a great opportunity to ease the hangover of their self-generated publicity nightmare last month.
But officials did release a statement of support for Schandel’s new “gesture” which he articulated in a memo to staff. The Principal commanded them to give students “cheers and high fives…to remind them we all have their backs.” He says that great things can be accomplished by “giving out lollipops and spreading vibes to our students as they enter school.”
Perhaps Hank Schandel, who doesn’t like waste, will give the lollipop and high-five due the girl with post-traumatic stress to her assailant.
He is not tenured. MS158Q, and for that matter the whole school system, could be cleansed of him in a heartbeat.
But there are long intervals between the heartbeats of a bureaucracy.
I have been involved with the NYC schools in one capacity or another for what seems like half the lifetime of a Sequoia tree, and for the most part I revere its legacy.
But against a backdrop of abominations like Hank Schandel and his apologists in the bureaucracy, I can understand why some parents might feel driven to seek alternatives.
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