SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: A Teacher At PS 51 In The Bronx Fights Back

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Teacher At PS 51 In The Bronx Fights Back

Today quite disconcerting news came across the SBSB newsroom desk. Nancy Tomassi, a teacher at PS 51 in the Bronx has filed a lawsuit against the DOE alleging that the former building that housed PS 51 led to her unborn child being diagnosed with anencephaly which resulted in her ending her pregnancy.

The crack team at SBSB and myself would like to first take this time to show how support and sympathy to Nancy, her husband Mike, and their entire families in this time of sadness and need. This must be an extremely difficult time for them to not only to find the strength to bring civil action against the city, but furthermore, to do so publicly by sharing with their world their plight, shows just how grounded both Nancy and Mike are. I and the crack team wish to pass along our condolences, thoughts, and most importantly our support at any time it is needed to both Nancy and Mike.

The loss of a child, whether born or unborn must be a feeling that is not only unfathomable, but heart wrenching to parents. Sadly, the idiocrats at Tweed and anyone associated with the NYC DOE are unable to share these feelings.

To know that since January 2011 that a school is infected with a known carcinogen, trichloroethylene, which has been known to cause birth defects and inform all those who worked in the school, should not only be considered irresponsible and unethical but borderline criminal.

Who is responsible for this? Who needs to pay? Let's not even look back to the yutz who decided that a former light factory, with all the chemicals that are involved in the making of, was a good place to place a school. Who was in charge since the discovery was made in January that this school was toxic?

Did Cathie Black who was chancellor of the NYC DOE at the time of discovery of toxins notified? One would assume that if toxins were to be discovered in a school that this should land on the chancellor's desk. Was Uncle Mike, the man that has given a longer life to millions of New Yorkers notified in January? If so, did he abscond on his fiduciary duties as the ultimate guardian of the children of NYC for he felt that little boys and girls of color, and teachers as well, are expendable? Did Dennis Walcott, the current chancellor know anything when he assumed the throne of chancellor? Surely, when Walcott said, “I am the chancellor, and I will take full responsibility for this,” his words should be taken literally and be named in the lawsuit.

But, who is ultimately most responsible for a school building? The principal. To paraphrase former senator Howard Baker, "what did Principal Paul Smith know and when did he know it?" This is a question that should be asked. This is a question that should be asked of Principal Smith during a deposition, under oath, on the witness stand under penalty of perjury.

Whomever tested the school surely did not walk into the school incognito. Why, if the school were to be tested would a principal be left out of the inner circle of knowledge? When someone, especially toxic testers (?) walk into a school, wouldn't the first person they report to be the principal? If so, WHY DID PRINCIPAL PAUL SMITH NOT IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY PARENTS AND STAFF? Are we to believe that Principal Smith was completely out of the loop in a major undertaking at his school? We call on Principal Smith to make public and to the Tomassi's the sign in books in the office and call upon DOE School Safety to make public the sign in books at the security desk.

Like a ship's captain a principal is the one ultimately responsible for their school. That is why we not only encourage the Tomassi's and their attorneys to utilize discovery to find out once of for all what Principal Smith knew and when he knew it, but if through discovery it is found that if Principal Smith is even 1% culpable that he is not only named a defendant but that like a good and well trained UK prime minister (see Howard Macmillan) that he do the honorable thing and resign immediately.

I know that the Tomassi's will not only find support, warmth, and empathy here on these pages, but in the hearts and mind of every teacher in New York City that sees what Uncle Mike has allowed a once great school system to become.


Chalk Duster said...

I hope Paul Smith reads this and comes forward with the truth. Knowing nyc principals...this is not likely.
My thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and Mike.....justice is little condolence for their loss.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the brave teacher who is willing to fight fir those who have no voice. So sad for the family to lose a child, I've lost two before birth...the pain is unreal. Please take comfort in knowing that there is an Angel-baby watching over you.

Anonymous said...

I am quite sure that the orders have come from on high to exclude everyone and anyone from knowing about safety concerns in schools. I was the Safety Coordinator at my school, and I battled SCA and DSF for answers on many issues for more than a decade. Suddenly I was no longer invited to meetings on building issues. The Principal 'handled' them on his own, although it was more like SCA handling him. Imagine that the Safety Coordinator is excluded from discussions on building issues. After that happened, nobody in our school knew a thing about such issues. We got second hand, very incomplete answers.

It is important to remember that for more than a decade we had lawyers as Chancellors. They seemed more concerned with liability than with lives. There is no doubt that they set up protocols to bury the truth about building problems just as they did at PS 51. Remember that the PCB problem in lighting ballasts was only reported because the EPA called the DOE on it. What nobody yet knows about that is that many schools have been using replacement ballasts made in China that are loaded with PCBs, so that while the DOE claims that they are addressing the problem it is, in fact, probably growing.

Don't forget that many Principals reflect the arrogance of the DOE. One school was robbed because the burglar alarm was not working, and the next day the Principal sent out a letter telling parents that all school systems were in working order. Truth is an enemy to this gang, but if we fight to get at the truth we just might be able to save our kids and our schools.

Anonymous said...

I find the story and comments to be obnoxious and sickening. To think that a Principal knew what was happening in his building and then will put himself and staff/children in danger is very appaulding. People who read these stories and comments and believe the Principal was playing part is dumber then dumb. Principal Smith was much a victim like everyone else and as soon as it was revealed, he made sure as a dedicated leader, to find a new site for his school. Principal Smith would never put others in danger and is the Firestone to fight for what is right