The Springs School Board jumped to the defense of Principal Eric Casale after an article in The Independent newspaper last week focused on allegations that linked him to a cheating scandal at a Bronx school when he was principal there a decade ago.
The School Board and Mr. Casale both wrote letters explaining the incident and criticizing the paper for its coverage. The letters come on the heel of a testing impropriety recently reported to the New York State Education Department that was linked to the resignation of Assistant Principal Dr. Katherine Byrnes.
“The Board of Education continues to fully support Mr. Casale as the Springs School principal,” said the letter by the School Board. “Eight years of strong leadership on his part in Springs offers us the best evidence of his character, professionalism, effectiveness and integrity. The record of his past employment in NYC—which in our opinion has been reported in an unfair and out-of-context manner—cannot overwhelm or change our appreciation and respect for his leadership.”
Mr. Casale offered his own account of the situation at the Bronx school, P.S. 91, saying he had “nothing to hide.” He explained that an allegation of a teacher helping students on state assessments surfaced after the teacher was promoted to be his assistant principal.
“It was alleged that I knew about the allegation, but refused to do anything about it, and that I evidenced favoritism toward the teacher in my promotion of her to assistant principal,” Mr. Casale said. “When I became aware of the allegation in 2005, I contacted my superintendent of schools.”
Ultimately Mr. Casale was put “on a special list regarding any future employment inquiries in NYC schools.”
“A single allegation against me was substantiated by the investigator based largely on the testimony of two staff members: that I had failed to report my knowledge of the testing allegation to the director of testing,” Mr. Casale wrote. “Of course, I did report it—to my superintendent of schools … No further action was taken against me, and no charges of ‘cover up’ or ‘destruction of evidence’ were alleged or substantiated against me.”
Both letters said the School Board knew about the incident before Mr. Casale was hired at Springs in 2005.
“I want to assure you that I am in good standing with the New York State Education Department and that both of my licenses are permanent,” Mr. Casale said. “I hope to be here at Springs for the rest of my career, as I have come to love Springs and its children, who I treat as my own.”
The board met in a hastily-convened exeutive session with little public notice to discuss the matter last Friday at 7:30 a.m., according to School Superintendent Dominic Mucci.