Harlem Teachers Say Principal Has no Principles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Principal David Jimenez of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics has been accused of sexually harassing two employees, asking a staffer to lie, unfairly forcing out a teacher and creating a climate of fear and retribution. Jonathan Dienst reports. (Published Friday, Nov 26, 2010)

    Teachers and others at an East Harlem high school say their principal is bad for education.

    Principal David Jimenez of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics has been accused of sexually harassing two employees, asking a staffer to lie, unfairly forcing out a teacher and creating a climate of fear and retribution.

    "It's just so crazy in school, the tension between mostly the principal and the teachers has gotten out of hand where now it's affecting a lot of students,” said Oscar Valenzuela, the senior class president.

    The Department of Education says it is investigating Jimenez, but staffers say the school is sinking as accusations have swirled for more than a year.  Jimenez declined to be interviewed.

    Former Assistant Principal Felicia Bray is one of two women who accuse Jimenez of sexual harassment.

    “He groped me in his office,” she said.

    After filing a formal complaint against Jimenez last year, she says he retaliated against her and others.  She was sent to another school and is fighting her demotion to teacher.

    Baseball coach Edgar Leon says the principal wanted him to lie and accuse Bray of okaying an unauthorized purchase for the team. He says that after he refused to lie, the school cut the baseball team's funding.

    “I believe that I am a target for standing up for what's right,” said Leon.

    To save the season, teachers say they raised $700 for the team. Leon thanked them with a barbecue. English teacher Yves Cloarec says Jimenez forced him to resign last June -- simply because he had attended that barbecue.

    “Basically because I participated in that barbecue, I was no longer the right person for the job and as a matter of fact, he said so in those words,” said Cloarec.

    Since Jimenez took over the school three years ago, the graduation rate has improved to 89.5%.  However the school's rating has dropped from an A to a low B and staffers say Jimenez has caused talented teachers and administrators to leave.

    Student Dabian Canales was in Cloarec's English class and plays baseball for Coach Leon. 

    “I just feel like it's unfair,” said Canales.