Jan 29, 2014

Allegations that Orr Principal Berates Pregnant Parent and Student After Flotus Visit

Flotus visit to Orr Elementary
By Candi Peterson

An elementary school principal, Niyeka Wilson of Benjamin Orr elementary school located at 2200 Minnesota Avenue SE Washington, DC 20020 202/671-6240 may be in hot water and under investigation for disparaging comments she made on Facebook about a pregnant parent and student with respiratory problems at the school.

Here's what the DC Parent Action Consort (known as PAC) reported that Orr's principal posted on her personal Facebook wall:

"Soooo.... 1 ambulance + 3 EMT guys + 1 hyperventilating can't breathe kiddo + 4 Metro Police Officers + 1 pregnant mentally disturbed parent screaming + 2 suspensions + 1 allegation of assault by me (FML) = a DYNAMIC DUO that conquers that and continues an in progress meeting @ the same doggone time !!! Adventures of Principal Willie and Omplare S. Magass."

The Facebook post was subsequently deleted, after complaints were filed by parents.

Under the alias of DC parent Action Consort, presumably to protect the identity of Orr parents, several emails were forwarded to DC City Council members Alexander, Barry, Bonds, Cheh ,Graham, Grosso, McDuffie, Orange and Wells in an appeal seeking disciplinary action of Wilson for her misdeeds.

A December 1 email titled; Principal Berates Pregnant Parent and Student After Flotus visit.
The email reads as follows:

"Weeks after the FLOTUS fanfare at Benjamin Orr in Southeast DC, Niyeka Wilson, first year DC Public Schools (DCPS) principal at Orr, posted disparaging comments on her Facebook page toward a pregnant mother of several Orr pupils and a student that experienced severe respiratory complications.

The at-large community is outraged! Facebook is no place for knowingly, with reckless disregard, and despicable personal feelings of expressed malice, towards those Principal Wilson is employed to cultivate. It is irresponsible to state on Facebook that a "can't breathe" student and a "pregnant mentally disturbed parent screaming" as the "Adventures of Principal Willie." This has a negative impact on her ability to successfully lead reform at Orr and collaborate with parents, a mainstay of her professional duties.

Orr Elementary has a large at-risk student population, and currently in "turnaround" status. According to greatschools.org, Orr is ranked below average. How can a turnaround plan produce expected results if parents feel they have been ostracized by the principal? Consequently, good leadership and parental engagement is critical toward the successful transformation of this historical Anacostia neighborhood school.

Principal Wilson's comment is indicative of a bad leader who has failed at the primary responsibilities of leadership in service to students and parents: shaping, and fostering a vision of success, creating a hospitable school climate, and strengthening family engagement to directly enhance learning outcomes. This is not only a leadership flaw but a character flaw, too. Mrs. Wilson owes Orr parents' and community an apology.

We expect Kaya Henderson, Chancellor DCPS and Jesus Aguirre, Director of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) give serious consideration for disciplinary action for such a gross act of wanton negligence.

We ask that you impress upon Chancellor Henderson and Mr. Aguirre to act immediately."

Thank you,

DC Parent Action Consort

In a response January 15 email from DC Council member Yvette Alexander writes "If these allegations are true, I am deeply concerned with the lack of sensitivity and unprofessionalism characterized by this principal and would question their continued tenure at Orr."

Chancellor Kaya Henderson responded on January 27 to the Consort's emails apologizing for the lack of responsiveness to the complaints indicating that she and Instructional Superintendent John Davis had not been made aware of the complaints previously. Henderson writes; "If you reported this to anyone at DCPS, can you please share to whom, so we can figure out where the breakdown in communication has occurred? It would also be helpful to have any additional information that might be helpful as we investigate this situation....."

I am glad to know that there will be an investigation into this matter by the school district. I agree wholeheartedly with Council member Yvette Alexander. Assuming these allegations are confirmed, Wilson should be giving her walking papers. Anything less would be criminal and sends the wrong message that children in schools East of the River don't MATTER. We all know if this occurred at a West of the park school, heads would roll. Stay tuned for updates on Principal Wilson.


Unknown said...

This is obviously a witch hunt. This article and those that orchestrated it have clearly lost site of the BIG picture at Orr Elementary. This school is FAILING and it is not the first year principal’s doing. Stop with all the rhetoric and scratch beneath the surface to get to the root of the problem. Only when that is done, will you truly understand how insignificant these words allegedly posted to Facebook truly are. Even if this allegation is true, does that warrant termination? No.
If the principal is terminated, that would be yet another excuse to maintain the status quo for at least another year, which is FAILURE! That would mean at least 10 years of FAILURE at this school. That is a GENERATION lost – repeat, LOST! Do our children deserve that? Better yet, can we afford that? We need to ask ourselves how that happened. It certainly is not because of this new principal. Everyone needs to stop bickering over petty nonsense like this when there is a crisis at hand – our Black children are failing and NO ONE CARES!
I humbly say to all who read this obvious attempt to gain momentum to oust this woman, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. What is more likely occurring at this school is CHANGE. I suppose the new principal is attempting to implement change, which I’m sure is being met with resistance by those who want to hide subpar performance and get paid for nothing. I suspect that these are the same people who are behind this article. Everyone should put the same energy into being outraged by these words into being outrage by this school’s failure. Be a part of the solution people and stop being part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Eight hours after Candi Peterson’s article, principal Nyieka Wilson admits full guilt to berating pregnant mother and child on personal facebook page, via letter to parents' with little to no regret and no sincerity.

Anonymous said...

If she is a Teach For America alum she will get to keep her job. Remember, a Teach For America alum who hit two separate children on two different occasions at Johnson Middle School in 2011 is still working happily for DCPS. I hope Ms. Alexander keeps the pressure up.

Anonymous said...

No offense but please stick to the story at hand. Theyre are other platforms & forums where you can rant about the state of DC public schools. This is about a leader whose not leading by example. This is about parents who are worried about the direction of the school their child attends. My child goes there. I was present the day of the incident & no both parties involved very well & unfortunately it raises some questions with me about the seriousness of the turn around. People make comments about hyping this story up but let me ask you this: Where you there? Did you or any of your children attend school there? Do you even know where it is? How can you be sure of anything when your not even part of this! We are all entitled to our opinion but at least make it an educated one.

Anonymous said...

This is an outrage!!!!!!!! This principal needs to be given her walking papers. She has no regard for her students, parents or staff. She has yet to hold an assembly to introduce herself to her students this school year. Parents and teachers constantly complain about her lack of sensitivity , communication and vision for Orr ES. This is an excellent school that needs a new leader who cares and is committed to bring positive change to the students, parents and staff.

Anonymous said...

and this principal rates teachers putting their careers on the line? Hmmmmm ....

Anonymous said...

She thinks she is above all and she underestimate the parents. Give her the walking papers

Anonymous said...

Response to Justin Truth:

JT said, “get to the root of the problem.” JT, the undisputed root is incompetent LEADERSHIP. Leaders must be held accountable, and the school’s principal, the overseer of our children’s future, must be held to the highest standards.

LT, said, “our Black children are failing and NO ONE CARES!” LT, that’s ludicrous! People care greatly! The purpose for the parents and community outrage is because they care about having the best leader for their children and their community. Every Black children deserves a professional and competent principal. Don’t you agree LT?

LT said, “Be a part of the solution people..” Exactly, LT! Finding a highly qualified competent leader is taking an active part in seeking a solution. All children deserve the absolute best leadership.

Anonymous said...

She thinks she is above all and she underestimates the parents. Give her the walking papers.

allGodschildren said...

Thank you principal Wilson. She admitted quilt in a rare take-home letter to parents on Friday. I agree with Anonymous that the letter delivered to parents was “with little to no regret and no sincerity”. Wilson previously told parents she’s not a people’s person, so we’re confused by the sudden increase of parent meetings and a parent letter this week.

Where is the parent letter introducing herself to everybody as principal?

Where is the parent letter introducing the even more mysteriously appearing, highly suspicious hiring, and newly created position of Orr’s Assistant Principal? Wilson hired her best friend and former employee as Orr’s Assistant Principal.

Where is the parent letter explaining why Orr does not have a Librarian, and why our children go to the library and continuously watch movies with rotating DCPS substitutes? DCPS says, “substitutes maintain classroom instruction during a regular teacher’s absences.” DCPS does not say stubs are a permanent replacement.

Where is the parent letter explaining why the art teacher quit and the position remains unfilled?

Where is the parent letter explaining why our children go to a Technology class and watch movies over and over in a room filled with computers?

Where is the parent letter explaining why a vacancy remains for an Instructional Coach? According to DCPS, “ Instructional Coaches play a critical role in ensuring student success.”

Where is the parent letter explaining why all 4th graders did not receive their report cards?

Also, where is the parent letter explaining that you would never be around to see or talk with us during morning arrivals, would be unavailable or gone during the day, and leaving the school before or shortly after dismissal.

I’ll stop here, for now! How many more examples of neglect and bad leadership do Orr parents have to list and accept by principal Wilson and DCPS under the disguise of high quality education and effective leadership?

Anonymous said...

Orr school is suffering because of this principal and her assistant principal!! This kind of behavior is unacceptable! If you are coming to a new school with the intent to make it better that's cool, but to come in and disrupt and raise havoc, bye bye ! For someone to come to this school and not help Orr achieve success and dog out parents, students, and teachers is outrageous! You can't give a fake apology just to put a bandaid on the situation! This principal needs to leave now!
WHAT'S THE HOLD UP!! I care about my child
who attends Orr!

Anonymous said...

As someone who works here, I can say that this school has very low morale and has since about October. Unfortunately Niyeka is extremely insensitive to staff needs and often talks condescendingly both privately and publicly to teachers and staff. And to Justin Truth, change is NOT happening here. She keeps saying she wants to raise test scores, but does not outline how she expects that to happen. Yet teachers are written up for not adhering to standards and expectations she never outlined. We have yet to have a handbook or manifesto of what she wants or expects and what to do for certain things. We do not even have an Instructional Coach, which is mandatory at every DCPS school, and we have FIVE new teachers, and now 4, because one quit in November (due to, I assume, lack of support for her class). My experience here has not been a good one and as someone who has been here for awhile, I cannot say that change is happening. I do not believe we should be led by someone who has so little respect for the families we serve, shown by her Facebook, and little respect for those that work for her. I understand we all make mistakes, but as an anonymous user said earlier, because of her position she has to be held to the absolute highest standard, and posting something such as she did on Facebook, was stupid. Had this incident happened across town, on Wisconsin Avenue, she would have been let go, no questions asked. Why are our students any different? They deserve the very best, and her actions have shown that she doesn't exemplify that.

Anonymous said...

This principal need to go.Ms Wilson i knew you are reading this. Please resign,before you get the termination paper.

Anonymous said...

Wilson’s receives failing grade for Genuine Parent Engagement.

1. Welcoming Environment: Is principal readily available and interact with families? Grade:"F"

2. Effective Communication: Is principal’s communication well prepared and goes beyond the take home letter or flyer in backpack? Grade: "D-"

3. Community Partnerships: Principal regularly gets out into the community, visits community partners, and attends local community events. Grade: "F"

4. Responsiveness: Do families with questions, suggestions and grievances go unheard and or unanswered? Is their request answered in a timely manner? Grade "F"

5. Investment of Resources: Are resources invested in family-friendly activities, such as fieldtrips, before & afterschool programs, etc…Grade: "D"

Anonymous said...

Parents need to read this comment. Thanks all goes children!!

Anonymous said...

Niyeka Wilson isn't a new principal ... She was principal at Imagine School Lamond Campus for more than 5 years . This behavior isn't new ... Somebody needs to know this is who she is ... Bad character traits ...
She didn't leave Hope on her own accord ...

Anonymous said...

I have worked with this principal and I must say DCPS should have checked her background before they hired her. All the things listed have been done at a previous school which she was forced to resign from. This was an example of poor judgement on DCPS's behalf. Ya'll could have asked me a person who worked for her and I would have told you she was some crap!!!!!! I must say KARMA is something else!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sad... I used to work under this principal's leadership. I guess somethings don't change. However, I am surprised that another charter in the district gave her and her bestee (the Vice Principal) a job.