New York Magazine has a fascinating story about the principal of a boutique public school in New York City that drove out most of its working-class Puerto Rican and black neighborhood students and replaced them with upper-middle-class kids likely to score well.
When school started, (Principal Celenia) ChÃ©vere divided the seventh grade into the â€œA-classâ€ and the â€œB-class.â€ The A-class had five children, most of them white. The B-class was composed of twenty or so students from the immediate neighborhood, nearly all of them Hispanic or black.
. . . The B-class became the principalâ€™s white whale, her sour obsession. According to one of its teachers, ChÃ©vere would declare, â€œIâ€™m going to torture them until they leave.â€ She ordered the B-class students cited for every conceivable infraction, no matter how picayune. â€œShe told me to write up anyone for anything,â€ the teacher says. â€œIf a kid looked tired, if he didnâ€™t have a belt on, if his hair wasnâ€™t washed â€¦â€ ChÃ©vere forwarded the paper barrage to the Administration for Childrenâ€™s Services. When besieged parents came to the school, the teacher says, ChÃ©vere held ACS over them as a threat: Withdraw their children, or else.
If this is true, it’s appalling. Threatening parents with a child neglect investigation just to get rid of low-scoring students is about as low as a principal can go.
A former teacher suggests the principal and top administrators changed students’ answers on state tests; a former special education student says her teacher gave her the right answers but told special ed students to miss two questions.
The cheating charges weren’t investigated, despite suspiciously high scores for special ed students. However, Chevere was forced to retire on other grounds. The school is now a magnet for gifted and talented students, few of whom live in the neighborhood.