Nasty comments made public, 3 BVP teachers fired

Nasty comments made public, 3 BVP teachers fired

Chiappetta: ‘Great deal of work’ to rebuild trust

CUMBERLAND – Three teachers at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy High School were fired Tuesday after administrators say they made “disrespectful and disparaging comments” about students and their families.

Jen LoPiccolo, director of external affairs for BVP, told The Breeze that school leaders completed their investigation, including interviewing teachers involved, and those instructors are “no longer team members” at the charter high school.

LoPiccolo is not saying who the three former teachers are.

The comments, made on popular internal work-messaging app Slack, were leaked on Monday to students, who then showed them to their parents.

Nationally, questions have been raised in recent weeks about how secure Slack really is and LoPiccolo said the comments came to light through an apparent hacking of the web-based messaging system.

BVP Executive Director Jeremy Chiappetta, in a letter to parents Wednesday, said the school “ended its relationship” with the three high school teachers “after confirming the allegations were in fact true.”

“I want to be crystal clear, many of the comments written are deeply disturbing and offensive,” wrote Chiappetta. “As the founding school leader of our first school, executive director of the organization, and as a parent of three scholars in the program, I am deeply saddened and disappointed. Parents put their trust in teachers and the school, and that trust has been violated.”

The board of directors at the school also released a statement.

“The remarks made by teachers are absolutely inexcusable. Our primary concern is to work to repair and heal our relationships with students and families," it states. "The board supports the actions Jeremy and his leadership team have taken and will continue to work with them to strongly address the issues that have been raised.”

Just this year the high school, which serves Pawtucket, Central Falls, Cumberland and Lincoln, earned a commended ranking from the Rhode Island Department of Education based on 2015 standardized testing scores. It was the only high school on the prestigious list and one of 17 schools statewide.

The Breeze obtained screenshots of many of the comments made by the teachers.

• Bianca Caraza, a 9th-grade English teacher, responds to 10th-grade English teacher Everett Epstein telling her a student spelled “Ta-Nehisi Coates” wrong by calling the student a “f---ing idiot.”

An attempt to reach Caraza this week was unsuccessful.

• When 9th-grade math teacher Lindsey Allcock talks about a student being sly about taking his phone out and failing his classes, Caraza responds by calling him a “f---ing idiot.” She says that if he “f----“ up again he should be sent to her room, “and I will not be so pleasant.”

• Allcock calls a student a “dumb a--,” and so “d--- dumb” for not moving his seat. Another teacher, David Jose, then says the student “moved his seat in a “di--” way.

• Caraza, responding to 10th-grade history teacher Steven Tedeschi’s comments about parents’ expectations for academics and behavior, tells him she wishes teachers could hit the parents. Tedeschi then tells her to move to Arizona, “start your own charter, and commence with the floggings.”

• Caraza calls a parent a “mother-f------ puta” (Spanish for slut) and “lying pendeja (stupid) scum,” adding she hopes her son fails all his classes.

• Caraza says she wants to send a student a middle finger emoji, adding that the student “is staying after school every day until the end of time.”

• Tedeschi calls the mom of the student made fun of for her misspelling “a loser,” adding that “clearly Columbia doesn’t provide access to parenting programs, or if they do, she didn’t take advantage.”

The father of that same student told The Breeze Monday that their family feels betrayed by the school.

“We are floored, we really are floored,” said Scout, his full legal name. “It was unbelievable to us when we thought it was someone making up conversation, and it’s even more unbelievable that this was true and this was what they actually said.”

Scout said he got a text from Head of School Jonathan Santos Silva telling him the school was experiencing a “technology issue” and that staff members were looking into what was believed to be a made-up conversation.

When Scout’s daughter subsequently saw of the teachers’ comments after they were distributed around the school, she was “devastated and very upset.”

Someone at the school also read a comment to the daughter purportedly from one of the teachers saying she wouldn’t be able to get into the college of her choosing and calling her stupid. The comment was apparently deleted, and there is no available copy of it, said Scout, but it’s impact is lasting. His daughter was crying about the comment Monday night, he said.

The comment about college was especially troubling given the school’s emphasis on encouraging all students to go to college from an early age, said Scout.

Scout said he was forced to apologize to his daughter after not believing her earlier in the year when she complained about teachers’ treatment of her. He said he now believes every word.

The daughter was already planning to go back to Lincoln public schools in the fall, said Scout.

BVP administrators ended school a day early after Monday’s leak of the comments.

To “help our school community heal,” said Chiappetta in his letter to families, the administrators held a school-wide community meeting where students were able to share feelings and concerns. The high school also had several counselors available on campus to support students and staff during the last day of school on Tuesday.

“We have a great deal of work to do to build trust in our community,” said Chiappetta. “We are committed to doing just that.”

Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy High School opened at St. Joan Church’s former school in 2014 under the direction of Santos Silva, now 32.

Ninety students filled the freshman seats, followed last fall by a second group as freshmen moved up to 10th grade.

BV Prep leaders were hoping to remain at the St. Joan site for 10 more years but were advised by the Catholic Diocese of Providence last fall that just one more year would be allowed.

That prompted the governing board headed by Central Falls Mayor James Diossa to sign an agreement with Joseph Amaral to purchase and build at the former Fair hardware and lumber store in Valley Falls.
A 40,000-square-foot school, complete with all the needed amenities, is planned to open in the fall of 2017.

Comments

I would like to know what happened to the previous stories in the Breeze about these teachers. There were two other stories written, and a lot of readers had responded with comments, but within hours, these stories were removed and new ones written. Why? Did it generate too much controversy, or did a certain high profile person ask to have them removed?

I can understand the need for room for updated versions, but to remove them all together? I don't see a valid reason.

These teachers wasn't fired, they resigned big difference.

That's how it works. New articles are posted as they are published.

But, here are some links to old stories:

http://www.valleybreeze.com/2016-06-21/cumberland-lincoln-area/teachers-...

http://www.valleybreeze.com/2016-06-22/pawtucket/three-bvp-teachers-fire...

Let's be real, they were fired. They were given the chance to save face - and not just their own - but that of the charter school too - to resign.

Resigning insinuates they had a choice - but the initial reporting was likely very accurate (as also supported by Chiapetta's open letter:
"Late yesterday, Blackstone Valley Prep ended its relationship with three high school teachers after confirming the allegations were in fact true. They are no longer employed at Blackstone Valley Prep.") BVP ENDED ITS RELATIONSHIP.... not that the teachers ended it, from the head of the BVP machine.

But resigning leaves the door open for those teachers to show up in another unsuspecting classroom. BVP records won't reflect that they exhibited poor judgement in hiring teachers they needed to eventually fire. It's smoke and mirrors, but the firing is still real.

I do not believe that there is anything that has become as controversial, in the surrounding communities, especially here in Cumberland, as the Mayoral Academy/Democracy Prep Charter Schools...all of the latest controversy aside. It a somewhat intrusion of individuals' 'Private Conversation in what I have been led to believe is also a 'Private Forum'?

I have followed this upstart educational concept, and body, from the very first meeting held back at Fatima Hall...and like many, many (hundreds) of residents I have expressed opinions and comments. Very few favorable except for the fact: "They Are Doing One Hell of a Job educating their students vs. the Short-Changed Job the other 95% of students/children in our community get in our Public School System".

And, that is my biggest complaint!

Give credit where credit is due! They have proved the existing Public School System, as structured, and the way children are taught (not taught) is broken. (A lot of this also Teacher Union ONE WAY contract terms and conditions...along with many pieces of legislative mandates, regulations, etc. up to and including "OVER THE TOP" ADA & Special Ed Students requirements! More-so those costs!

However, I still do not believe that small, what has turned out to be, group of what has also become Extremely Elitist Students and their Parents (the Personification of Better-Then-Thou) regardless of how they get selected to attend (which I also disagree with) should have such privilege?

The EGO-Mania, that borders on 'Obnoxious', is rampart everywhere, and among all involved, especially BVP Executive Director Jeremy who is quoted in the above article, as follows:

“As the founding school leader of our first school, executive director of the organization, and as a parent of three scholars in the program, I am deeply saddened and disappointed."

The Over-The-Top Mr. Chiappetta, again, personifies this "Egomania", with his stating that he has '3-Scholars' attending the school, rather then 3 of my children are students, etc.

I have, as have many others, hopped all over this totally out of line terminology as being completely inappropriate in describing little children...especially when one is fully aware of what the word "Scholar' implies, how it is 'earned'...and when it should be used; and only when it should be used?

LASTLY, I have a question...and also a suggestion.

Knowing what are the criteria for qualification to be considered for the Mayoral Academy, and the Lottery that I have been told is the Primary determining factor for admission...would Mr. Chiapetta please inform all of the parents and taxpayers of this community how he was so fortunate to have '3' of his children selected to attend. Especially where a majority of applicants do not make it/qualify???

With luck such as Mr. Chiapetta seems to possess (3 out of 3) I would strongly suggest he head up to Twin River ASAP...before it runs out!

That is, if it was luck at all???

These were TFA "teachers" who have only 5 weeks of training on how to teach and what the job actually entails. Plus it's a charter school involved, which may not have had the same levels of training that public school teachers receive. Even my tiny rural district has a policy for online behavior that is explained to everyone annually during P.D. trainings, and we have to sign that we understand it and will adhere to it. Charters don't have to adhere to the same regulations that are required of public schools. Charters are also not subject to anywhere near the levels of transparency, oversight, and accountability that public schools are subject to.

Tom, children of BVP employees are allowed to circumvent the lottery.

MORE INFO:

Children of Founders, Teachers or Staff
Charter schools may adopt policies that permit enrollment of children whose parent or guardian is a founder, teacher or staff member at the school, as long as these students constitute no more than 10% of the school’s total enrollment. Policies should clearly define each term for the purposes of implementation, and consider parameters on this exemption. For instance, consider whether an exemption should apply to children of current and former staff alike. Also, consider whether the policy should apply to founders no longer affiliated with the school.

Siblings
Charter schools may adopt policies that exempts siblings of accepted and/or enrolled students from participation in the lottery. RIDE defines the word sibling as “one of two or more individuals having one common parent”. Two children who share a common guardian may also be considered siblings. Charter school policies should reflect the definition provided. Siblings may not be interpreted to include members of a student’s extended family such as cousins, step-siblings, and others who, due to various circumstances, may have become part of the family unit and/or live in the same household.

http://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Students-and-Families...

Ditto above - was just going to post about how children of "founders, teachers, and staff" are allowed to bypass the lottery. Interestingly enough, these teachers and administrators (don't forget "founders") seem to think it's fine to take spots away from the population(s) they claim to champion.

Second point - please remember, these schools aren't doing much better than Cumberland Schools (in fact, Community School is ranked higher and other schools in CPS are ranked quite similarly). Further, PLEASE take into account the self-fulfilling prophecy that is inherent with a "school of choice" such as this. What is a leading factor in educational success? Reading - having access to books in the home, being read to as well - and having parents or guardians who CARE. ALL of the parents of students at BVP need to be engaged. And of course they are - they had to think to enter a lottery in the first place, right? Check 1. Then they have to attend several meetings/events in support of the school, and heck, even allow their kids to be bussed to the State House to pull the heartstrings for more $. Check 2. And finally, if the parent isn't pulling weight, they can expel or "ask the student to leave" - but they claim this never happens.

The way they throw the insults around at the academy seems familiar.