A kindergarten teacher for most of her career, Denise Farina switched to fourth grade and then second grade in recent years. For 25 years she received satisfactory ratings. Then a new principal assigned coaches to help her improve her teaching skills, but she made no progress, administrators charged.
Administrators, teachers and former aides testified that Farina was incompetent all along, but the previous principal failed to take action.
Most of them cast their eyes away from Farina as they described her disorganized classroom, her failure to hold a class together, her lack of teaching skills and her bleak attitude. They noted that she did not focus when they gave model lessons. They said she was not engaged. Instead of listening she would sit at her desk writing checks or filing her nails. Several witnesses commented on her nail filing.
(Gail) Riccitilli, a former aide and reading specialist said the principal had told her to stop “enabling” Farina by doing her job for her.
Witnesses said Farina did very little teaching in her kindergarten years.
“In my memory, the student would color or have snacks,” (Betsy Romanelli) said. “She would be at her desk. She would do personal things. Such as banking, writing greeting cards, letting writing.”
Even Farina’s union urged her to resign after she’d failed four Teaching Improvement Plan interventions. Two times is enough, a union rep testified.
Intercepts asks the obvious question: Why did it take 27 years? That’s on the principals who let Farina teach year after year, ignoring complaints from colleagues and parents, and then let her move to an even more challenging grade.