Multi-Year Disaster At Neva King Cooper Educational Cener, Part Seven

During my last year of employment at NKC, Dr. Roos asked this blogger to write a letter urging parents to join the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA). This blogger submitted a draft of that letter to Dr. Roos who read the letter, APPROVED IT, and told this blogger to give the letter to the school secretary to type up. The letter was then sent home to the parents of our students.  Dr. Roos then received an “anonymous” telephone call, stating that it was illegal to send letters concerning PTA business on a paper containing the school letterhead. (Dr. Roos has a pattern of receiving “anonymous” phone calls just before initiating disciplinary action against NKC staff). Dr. Roos then summoned this blogger to a meeting in her office. Present at that meeting was this blogger, Dr. Roos, Mrs. Alicia Fernandez, and one other teacher. While that other teacher was present in the room, Dr. Roos was jovial, polite, and courteous. When that teacher was dismissed from the meeting, both Dr. Roos and Mrs. Alicia Fernandez became hostile, confrontational, and very loud. [Afterwards, I asked the school secretaries if any of them had heard Dr. Roos and/or Mrs. Fernandez shouting at me. The school secretaries, (who work in the school office all day long with Dr. Roos, and appear to fear her greatly,) said they had not heard the very loud shouting, so I was unable to file a grievance against the two NKC administrators].

Dr. Roos began asking this blogger personal questions that were none of her business (such as was this blogger having contact with either Dr. Alberto Fernandez or Mr. Cristobol in his off duty hours.) [This blogger was unable to see the connection between what this blogger did in his off duty hours and a letter he wrote, at the request of Dr. Roos, concerning the PTA]. Dr. Roos then informed this blogger of the obscure rule that this blogger had violated by sending a school letterhead paper with PTA business on it. Dr. Roos then told this blogger that since he had broken a rule, a disciplinary letter would be placed in this blogger’s personnel file! A teacher would not be expected to know of this obscure rule, but a school principal with a PhD might be reasonably expected to be aware of this rule. Furthermore, Dr. Roos had read the letter, approved it, and told this blogger to have it typed up for dispersal. If this blogger had failed to obey Dr. Roos directive, this blogger would have been a candidate for disciplinary action for insubordination. Many NKC staff believe that both Dr. Roos and Mrs. Alicia Fernandez deliberately create Catch-22 situations, where a staff member is subject to disciplinary action no matter what he or she does. Dr. Roos, Mrs. Fernandez, and this blogger had THREE meetings concerning this PTA letter. At all three meetings, both administrators asked me private, inappropriate questions, shouted at me, and were extremely disrespectful. Unknown to me, a friend of mine who is a powerful person told some downtown district school officials what was happening to me. He or she then made a few phone calls and Dr. Roos was summoned to a meeting where Dr. Roos was told she would apologize to me and not place a letter of reprimand into my personnel file. At that meeting, Dr. Roos promised there would be no reprisals against this blogger, a promise she did not honor.

Many former or present NKC staff members, this blogger included, went or go to work every day, fearful that Dr. Roos or Mrs. Alicia Fernandez will bring serious charges against them based on complete falsehoods. Examples of this include the teacher who allegedly cheated on the FAA. That teacher told this blogger that when he (the accused teacher) read the report Mrs. Alicia Fernandez wrote about the incident, the report contained several statements that were complete fabrications. Another example was a report Dr. Roos wrote up, concerning an alleged confrontation between Dr. Roos and Mrs. Luz Morales. Ms. Morales had received a letter informing her she would soon be terminated, and giving the date of her termination. Ms. Morales went to Dr. Roos’ office, and asked if the termination date was correct. Ms. Morales told this blogger that Dr. Roos then wrote a report stating that Ms. Morales was shouting, confrontational, and threatening during this very brief meeting. Although this blogger has no doubt that a great deal of shouting occurred during that meeting, it is highly unlikely that the shouting came from Ms. Morales! Ms. Morales told this blogger that Dr. Roos’ report of Ms. Morales alleged confrontation was a total falsehood. This blogger has known Ms. Morales for 25 years. Ms. Morales is a very quiet and polite person, and extremely unlikely to have had a confrontational meeting with Dr. Roos. Yet another example is the statements Dr. Roos allegedly made about both her actions and this blogger’s actions (concerning the PTA letter this blogger wrote) at the meeting where she was ordered to apologize to me. A participant at that meeting recounted several statements to this blogger that Dr. Roos allegedly made at that meeting. If Dr. Roos made those statements, they were all wholly false.

After this blogger retired from NKC, my wife informed me that she made it a point not to speak to me for an hour after this blogger came home from work, to give me time to decompress. This blogger experienced two kinds of days at NKC. This blogger had bad days and very bad days. A bad day was when this blogger felt very frustrated because the new curriculum greatly reduced learning at the school. Additionally, every single day, this blogger went to work with a huge knot in his stomach, wondering if he would be accused of a serious or even career ending offense, based partially or wholly on falsehoods. A very bad day was a day where in addition to these fears and frustrations, this blogger was the victim of a screaming tirade by one or both NKC administrators. This blogger suspects that the majority of NKC staff also experience only bad and very bad days. In “The People’s Republic of NKC,” the staff’s mission statement has been perverted from “How can I maximize my students’ learning?” to “How can I avoid being set up for false charges that could result in my termination?”

On April 6,2015, this blogger, knowing he was going to retire in two months, finally felt safe enough to send Dr. Roos a two page memo where he respectfully asked that at all future meetings involving this blogger and both NKC administrators also involve the UTD school representative, Mr. Darwin Brown.  That memo is included in the addendum at the end of this blog. For the remainder of the school year, this blogger was spoken to by NKC administrators with courtesy and respect, but ONLY because the UTD representative was present. To give readers an idea of the level of fear that exists at NKC, this blogger had previously been the NKC union steward for 10 years, and it wasn’t until the last two months of his employment that this blogger felt safe enough to insist that his employers observe US labor laws that forbid the systematic terrorizing of employees by their employers. During this blogger’s last year at NKC, he was approached by MANY NKC staff members who requested that this blogger not speak to them whenever either Dr. Roos or Mrs. Fernandez was present, as my co-workers stated they feared they would become victims of administrative retaliation if they associated with “one of the bad people.” Everyone at NKC knew that “the bad people” were those staff members who were in favor of exploring the possibility of converting to a charter school.

The Unique Learning System (ULS) curriculum requires teachers to test their students both at the beginning and end of the month. The students are asked the same questions on both these tests to measure how much learning has occurred during the month. These tests cannot be taken by a blind person. This blogger had a student who was both blind and unable to use her arms (to point to the correct answer). Her arms were encased in heavy metal braces. One day, Mrs. Alicia Fernandez used her master key to enter this blogger’s classroom. My paraprofessional was on her lunch break, so Mrs. Fernandez began screaming at me. Mrs. Fernandez was enraged because this student had scored zeros on both her pretest and post-test, every single month. Mrs. Fernandez demanded to know why this was happening. When this blogger explained why, Mrs. Fernandez, in a very patronizing and exasperated voice, screamed at me that in the future, this blogger was to look at the direction this sightless student’s eyes seemed to be pointed to. If the student’s sightless eyes seemed to be pointing toward the correct answer, the student was to be given credit for a correct answer! This blogger, fearing a charge of insubordination. said nothing. What this blogger wanted to say was that very seldom was this student’s head turned in the general direction of the test questions. This blogger feared the consequences if he failed to obey this thinly disguised order to cheat on the test in the following year. In the bizarro world of “The People’s Republic” of NKC, failure to cheat on the ULS test could result in this blogger being falsely accused with cheating on the FAA! (Florida Alternate Assessment) Fortunately, this blogger retired a few weeks later, and did not have to worry about this.

As a union steward, this blogger noticed a steep uptick in both the number of administrators’ violations of school board employee rights and the severity of those violations after Mr. Carvalho became the school superintendent. Administrators became more brazen in their violations of the contract because it became apparent that staff were reporting those violations less and less frequently, and even when administrators were found to have seriously violated staff members’ contractual rights, those administrators received at best only a slap on the wrist. [There is a saying amongst MDCPS administrators that says, “If you want to go up, you have to screw up.” Ironically, those administrators who violate employees’ rights the most stand the best chance of receiving a raise, a promotion, or both.] This check on administrative abuse of power is now so broken that some administrators now feel safe to allegedly physically assault school staff. It’s a vicious circle. Administrators feel free to take increasingly brazen and draconian reprisals against school staff because they know that school staff are unlikely to report those violations. School board employees are afraid to report administrators abuse of employee rights because they correctly assume that the district’s investigative bodies will always find the administrators to be not guilty, no matter how overwhelming the evidence is against that administrator. The district’s investigative body will then look the other way as the absolved administrator then takes unlawful reprisals against the employee who reported those administrator(s). The system is badly broken. It is no longer a level playing field. This blogger calls on labor law lawyers, UTD, and Florida and Federal educational authorities to set up systems that are not run and controlled by “The People’s Republic” of MDCPS. Employees should be able to report abuses without fear of unlawful reprisals.This blogger also asks that labor law lawyers, UTD, and Florida and Federal educational authorities investigate both the entire MDCPS system and NKC to investigate alleged unlawful administrative practices. MDCPS says it has a zero tolerance for bullying. Perhaps it is time for that zero tolerance to include administrative bullying of school board employees. Administrators who are found to be in violation of Federal, or state statutes, or in violation of the MDCPS contract need to receive penalties commensurate with the violations they have committed. This blogger will end his description of Dr. Roos and Mrs. Fernandez questionable activities at NKC NOT because that list has been exhausted, but because the blogger believes the reader now has an accurate description of what goes on in “The People’s Republic” of NKC. This is the seventh and final installment of this blog. An addendum can be found in containing various letters I have written. Readers may find the letter to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and the letter to UTD president Karla Hernandez Mats to be of interest. Hopefully, readers will forward all or part of this blog to other interested parties. Here is a list of actions this blogger would like the proper authorities to consider

  1. Send a memo to all MDCPS staff from the proper authority stating that in the future, due diligence in the proper execution of duties will not result in disciplinary action being taken against MDFCPS staff.
  2. Allow all NKC staff to be trained in CPR. It would be nice id master plan points could be offered for successful completion of this activity.
  3. Allow labor law lawyers, UTD, and state and Federal authorities to conduct a county wide audit of MDCPS to determine if state and Federal laws are being observed.
  4. Allow NKC staff to choose the curriculum used to instruct NKC students, subject to district approval.
  5. Reinstate Dr. Alberto Fernandez and Mr. Henny Cristobol as the NKC administrators.
  6. Pay the summer school salary of the NKC employee who was denied that employment, if it is determined he was improperly denied that employment.
  7. Pay Luz Morales the remainder of the salary she was denied when she was improperly terminated.
  8. If Mr. Carvalho, Dr. Roos, or Mrs. Alicia Fernandez are found to have violated one or more statutes, penalties commensurate with those violations need to be imposed.
  9. Allow audience members of school board meetings to criticize school board members by name at those meetings.
  10. Either create a new Florida Alternate Assessment (FAA) test appropriate for PMH students, or grant them a waiver of exemption from that testing.
  11. If the contract states that loading or unloading unruly students from buses is the sole responsibility of administrators, that rule needs to be enforced in every school in the county.
  12. Allow state and/or Federal authorities to examine NKC test results of the FAA for the last 5 years to see if cheating has occurred.
  13. Allow state and Federal authorities to determine whether Mrs. Ramos observed an instance of a teacher allegedly physically abusing a child in the 2015-2016 school year at NKC, and reported it to Dr. Roos. It should then be investigated whether Dr. Roos followed the proper procedures for a case of reported possible child abuse.
  14. If it is the wish of that employee, state and Federal authorities should be allowed to interview the employee who was allegedly physically assaulted by Dr. Roos. Other NKC staff should also be asked if Dr. Roos or Mrs. Fernandez  physically assaulted them.
  15. State and Federal authorities should be allowed to establish how many state and Federal lawsuits have been filed against MDCPS in recent years, and how many district employees have been unlawfully terminated.
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