Principal branded ‘cruel’ after posting test scores to embarrass low achievers

Principal  branded ‘cruel’ after posting test scores to embarrass low achievers

By Susan Edelman

A South Bronx elementary principal who publicly posted student test scores in the school lobby to shame low-achievers into improving was “unprofessional and arguably cruel,” an investigation found.

Victoria Najera, principal of  PS 333, the Longwood Academy of Discovery, also held an assembly to announce a trip to Cirque du Soleil for the highest-scoring kids – calling each winner by name.

Struggling students excluded from the trip were crushed. One boy sobbed so hard he gasped for breath and a girl scrawled on paper that she wanted to kill herself, teachers recalled.

Beyond “cruel,” Najera’s actions “may also have violated the Chancellor’s Regulations as well as other state and federal safeguards” against releasing students’ records, the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools concluded in a Jan. 18 report to Chancellor David Banks and released to The Post.

victoria najera
Victoria Najera, principal of  PS 333, the Longwood Academy of Discovery.

Special Commissioner Anastasia Coleman recommended that the DOE “take appropriate action” with Najera, who is still the school’s principal.

Najera explained to investigators that during the 2019-2020 school year, she started “goal setting” for all students, and displaying their “progression” throughout the year, the SCI reports. Najera said she intended to “motivate” and give students “incentives” to improve.

A staffer told SCI that Najera believed students “needed to be embarrassed” to do better.

LaTicia Thompson claims that Najera allegedly used discriminatory hiring and misused funds.
LaTicia Thompson claims that Najera allegedly used discriminatory hiring and misused funds.
J.C.Rice
Struggling students excluded from the trip were crushed, according to teachers.
Struggling students excluded from the trip were crushed, according to teachers.

Last year, only 4% of PS 333 students taking the state math tests passed, and 10% passed the state reading tests.

A Change.org petition titled Save our District 8 Public School has garnered 242 signatures so far.

“Najera uses intimidation and bullying to instill fear and create a hostile work environment for children, parents, and teachers,” it states.

A Change.org petition titled Save our District 8 Public School has garnered 242 signatures so far.
A Change.org petition titled Save our District 8 Public School has garnered 242 signatures so far.

LaTicia Thompson, last year’s PTA president and now Title I chair has filed multiple other complaints against Najera, alleging discriminatory hiring and misuse of funds, with District 8 Superintendent Jennifer Joynt and Banks’ deputy chancellor for leadership, Desmond Blackburn.

“Obviously, she wasn’t disciplined, because nothing has changed. It’s actually getting worse,” Thompson said.

“They are allowing a principal to create and foster a traumatic, toxic, and chaotic environment for our children.”

The SCI said it referred four complaints to the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations. The DOE refused to comment.

 

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