Abusive Administrator – a Case Study in the Bronx

February 2011


School Closings

Abusive Administrator


Tenure and Teacher Evaluation

Iris Blige, principal of Fordham HS for the Arts in the Bronx, will pay a fine of $7,500 for ruining the careers of good teachers, of developing new teachers (and of APs. She tried to ruin even more careers.

Two years ago, hundreds of high school teachers from across the Bronx protested yet another instance of baseless discipline against a teacher. In that instance, Blige took advantage of the teacher’s immigration status to try to get her deported.

Finally OSI found this August what we already knew was true: that Blige ordered APs to U teachers without any attempt to evaluate them. She chose to go after them and found reasons afterwards.

The penalty? Iris Blige signed a stipulation just after Thanksgiving, agreeing to a $7500 fine spread out over a year and a half.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew stated, “[Blige] is extremely unscrupulous in the way she does her job,” and “I think it’s outrageous. If the price for ruining someone’s career is $7,500, where’s the accountability?”


Is there any word about the teachers whose careers were ruined?


New Action co-chair Jonathan Halabi raised this issue at the January 24 UFT Executive Board. He was assured the UFT would contact the members who were adversely rated. Meanwhile former Bronx HS District Rep Lynne Winderbaum was quoted in the press saying, “Principals like Blige who ruin lives, ruin careers, rule by fear and intimidation. Signaling the robotic foolishness of Cathie Blacks talking points, Blige is an example of how the dedicated, vibrant, caring new teachers that Black wants to save from layoffs are the ones whose careers were cut short by the vindictiveness of this principal. Bishop, Hidalgo, Street, Troy, all popular and well-liked young teachers, were cut down early in their promising career”.


On one occasion a student at the school asked me “why does Ms. Blige get rid if all our favorite teachers?”

So harsh were the conditions under her tyranny that from 2007-2008 she had a turnover rate of 70.5%. Dozens of teachers have left every year since 2004 because of this principal. Of the more than a dozen APs in her school –at least ten have left many testifying against her in this investigation and others. Evaluations, which are designed to improve instruction in the classroom, were being instead subverted into a tool to intimidate teachers and stifle dissent.

The fact that the DOE doesn’t terminate Blige should serve as a dire warning that a fair and equitable teacher evaluation system is not possible. Principals like Iris Blige are not instructional leaders but people who maintain their power by using their authority to rate staff to impose their will.


New Action calls on the UFT leadership to step up

the campaign against abusive administrators!


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