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DOE Axing Wife of Retiring Brooklyn Tech H.S. Principal

The scandal surrounding Brooklyn Technical High School’s recently-retired principal is heating up. Just one week after Lee McCaskill announced he was leaving the famed school, the city Department of Education (DOE) began the process of removing his wife from the school system. A veteran social studies teacher at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cathy Furman McCaskill has been reassigned to the Region 8 office while the DOE takes steps to fire her. She is being booted for the same reason that her 49-year-old husband quickly retired – a special investigator revealed that the couple enrolled their daughter in a Cobble Hill elementary school even though they reside in Piscataway, N.J. For out-of-state residents to send their children to city schools, they must pay $5,000 a year. The McCaskills never coughed up tuition money. McCaskill avoided being fired and was allowed to retire from Brooklyn Tech, located at 29 Ft. Greene Place, because he agreed to pay restitution to the DOE to the tune of $19,441. That covers the four years his nine-year-old daughter spent at P.S. 29, 425 Henry Street. The school is considered one of the best in Brooklyn. To get their daughter into P.S. 29, the McCaskills allegedly falsified documents to show they maintained an apartment in Brooklyn. According to the report released by Richard J. Condon, special commissioner of investigation for the DOE, when asked to provide proof of a residence in Brooklyn, McCaskill faxed copies of three leases to the investigator. One of the documents indicated that Furman McCaskill leased a one-bedroom apartment in the borough for $200 a month. The paperwork was questionable because the date specified as when Furman McCaskill and the individual identified as the landlord of the property signed the lease was actually prior to the copyright date that appears on the form, the report says. In addition, Condon wrote that the lease forms used are commonly available at stationary shops. The woman named as the landlord of the apartment is reportedly a close friend of the McCaskills. During a face-to-face interview with McCaskill, the then-head of Brooklyn Tech said he, his wife and daughter stay at the Brooklyn apartment “off and on during the week” and at their New Jersey home on weekends and holidays, according to the report. The couple could not be reached for comment. The DOE agreed to a reimbursement deal with McCaskill (in exchange for paying the back tuition, he will not face disciplinary charges) before Condon’s report was released. Condon recommended that the McCaskills be banned from working in the public school system. As a result of the controversy surrounding the McCaskills, the DOE is giving other school employees a chance to avoid the couple’s fate. Those who live outside of New York City but never paid tuition for their children to attend city schools will be given one month to repay any money owed to the DOE. The amnesty program will last from February 21 to March 21. Employees who come forward will not be investigated by Condon or face disciplinary charges. With McCaskill gone from Brooklyn Tech, a former school employee has taken the reins as interim acting principal. Now leading the school, Randy Jay Asher served as Brooklyn Tech’s assistant principal for mathematics and computer science from 2000-2002. His last position was as principal of the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has called Asher “an innovative and successful educator.”

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