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SE boro parents rally behind embattled Jamaica principal

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The embattled principal from southeast Queens' School District 29 faces five charges from his superiors at the city Department of Education: that he hindered the placement of a special education class inside his school, ordered books without following the proper procedure, did not complete an important report on time, tampered with PS/IS 268's lottery and came to the school to see parents after being removed. The department would like to have K'Tori permanently banned from holding principal posts in its system, if not fired outright for insubordination and conduct unbecoming his position."We think the regional office went too far," said Maxine Gallmon, treasurer of the school's parent teacher association. "It's like a vendetta or something." At the hearing, Gallmon was one of 20 people in attendance, including other parents who want K'Tori reinstated, former City Councilman Archie Spigner of St. Albans and Fred Simmons, a representative for state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans)."The senator and the local elected leaders are supporting the parents in the fight," Simmons said, referring to a meeting between K'Tori, Smith and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) was out sick at the time but has joined with his fellow leaders, Simmons said.During earlier sessions of K'Tori's hearing at the department's Office of Investigations, across from Education Dept. headquarters at the old Tweed Courthouse, a hearing officer heard testimony on the books and special education allegations.The session Monday dealt with the report.The report, known as a Principal's Performance Review, is expected to be completed by the head of each school in order to project future test scores and create goals and objectives for the following academic year. K'Tori repeatedly failed to turn in the required paperwork during the spring term of the 2003-04 year, despite superiors moving the deadline back, said Local Instructional Superintendent Angela Monda, who is in charge of overseeing PS/IS 268."That date is extremely critical for setting up next year's school," Monda said of the first deadline, Feb. 6. At the time, she e-mailed K'Tori to remind him of the date, but in her testimony, could not confirm that he had received the correspondence. The principal was later told at a March disciplinary conference on the matter to send in the report but never did so, Monda said. While he seemed resistant to filing the review, telling her there was not enough student data, she never knew why he did not send in the report."I don't, I really don't," Monda said. Testimony at the hearing did not reveal the answer to the question, and it could not be determined if the reason would be addressed in upcoming sessions. However, in cross examination K'Tori's lawyers confirmed that while Monda asked for the report, she never explained the consequences of not turning it in. There were also questions about the dates and authorship of various letters and memos about the review requests.In her testimony, Monda said K'Tori rudely flipped papers at her during a meeting at the school, then told her he could not trust anybody in Region 3 when she told him the parent teacher association at PS/IS 268 was being investigated. He then brought his secretary in to take notes in what she considered a confidential meeting.It could not be determined why the PTA, later disbanded, was being looked at. Monda said she never told K'Tori his secretary could not be there, and he later apologized for the incident with the papers. Also, despite the issue with the report, Monda still gave K'Tori a satisfactory rating for the year. The next hearing session was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 20 at 9:30 a.m., with more parent supporters expected to attend. The district's community education council, the successor to the school board, cannot comment on personnel matters, but Council President Timothy James, speaking as a member of the community, said, "I support Dr. K'Tori. I have known him for years. He's a fantastic educator."Parents have complained that the school declined after K'Tori left, and James, also a member of Scarborough's staff, said the council continues to monitor PS/IS 268 to ensure its students receive a quality education."I am on the side of the children," he said.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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