Barnard Divided On Prinicipal’s Changes

Aliyya Swaby PhotoAs New Haven’s school system focuses on reducing suspensions, Barnard Environmental Magnet has seen suspensions double in the last year under a new principal. Meanwhile, more than a third of teachers have been assigned to different grades or subjects for the upcoming academic year.

Those are two of several changes under Principal Yolanda Jones-Generette that have Barnard’s teachers and parents divided on whether school culture is improving or deteriorating.

District leaders took an informal, anonymous “climate check” of teachers in late spring. They received back a document full of concerns about “top down management” and “lack of communication from administrators.” (Read it here.)

Jones-Generette was transferred to Barnard in 2014 after being reassigned from her role as principal of Lincoln-Bassett School, where she left behind a divided faculty amid a blistering state audit about the school’s performance.

Her switch to Barnard was a homecoming; she had served as the school’s assistant principal from 2010 to 2013. She has completed her first year as principal there with another divided faculty.

Jones-Generette said she has worked hard to get parents and teachers on board with new strategies to manage out-of-control behavior and increase learning opportunities.

Teachers and parents on both sides were rallied to contact the Independent to either support or criticize the principal’s leadership. Echoing complaints found in the “climate check” document collected by the school system, five teachers contacted the Independent saying they wanted to speak critically about the principal, but feared professional retribution if their names were used.

One notable change is the spike in suspensions, a trend at odds with a new policy direction the school district has undertaken.

Suspensions Up, Funds Down

Barnard students served 76 out-of-school suspensions this past academic year, more than twice the 37 served in the 2013-14 academic year.

Suspensions had also doubled between 2012-13 and 2013-14, from 19 to 37. But this past academic year, Barnard has seen the highest number of suspensions in at least four years.

Superintendent Garth Harries said some of those suspensions were related to an increase in disciplinary problems at the school, as well as a decrease in a “support structure” for helping students affected by trauma.

The school lost a large part of its funding for the Foundation of Arts and Trauma, which provided counselors to meet with students and staff, said district spokesperson Abbe Smith.

“Sometimes suspensions are a necessary part of culture building. The important question is the academic and social emotional learning of the students and the school over time,” Harries said.

The jump in suspensions also comes at a time when the district is starting to implement “restorative practices” in all New Haven Public Schools, which prioritizes repairing the harm done instead of punishing someone who has done something wrong. District leaders ultimately hope the new focus will drastically decrease suspension numbers. The New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT) received a two-year $300,000 “innovation” grant to hire project director William Johnson, train teachers and administrators in restorative practices at school-level, and implement pilot restorative justice programs in a few specific schools. Those schools have not yet been determined.

This month, 36 teachers from about 31 schools are receiving five-day training sessions in restorative practices, qualifying them to train others in their buildings, said NHFT President Dave Cicarella. And the district will fund training in August for every single principal in restorative justice.

Cicarella said a spike in suspension numbers is not necessarily a problem. School administrators should look into the details behind the numbers at the end of each year, he said.

Discipline On Paper

Cora Lewis File PhotoJones-Generette said she looked into suspensions mid-year and decided to implement a new rule requiring teachers to document behavioral or disciplinary problems on paper – resulting in more suspensions being reported.

In the past, Jones-Generette has declined to be interviewed. She sat down with the Independent for this article on Tuesday – joined by Iline Tracey, the school system’s director of instruction and school improvement, and Cheryl Brown, president of the school administrators union.

“I was not trained to deal with people in chronic crises,” Jones-Generette said. She said she has worked with teachers and staff to create restorative mechanisms to support students acting out, such as having students write reflective journal entries about the harm they caused.

Brown said Barnard is not the only school with rising suspension rates. She is also the principal of Ross/Woodward School, where suspension numbers have tripled in the last year. In part, she said, it’s due to the fact that traumatic incidents in the city have increased in frequency: “We have never seen a mother who killed her two children and turned on the gas. Of course it’s going to affect the culture of a school as well.”

“A lot of my teachers have dealt with inappropriate behavior in the classroom,” Jones-Generette said. “I’m not sure they were reporting the inappropriate behavior” before they were required to do so.

As an interdistrict magnet school, Barnard also has students from towns outside of New Haven. When those students have disciplinary problems, “we have to work with the town the student is from” to find strategies to help them, Jones-Generette said.

The school changed its referral system from electronic to paper, making it easier for teachers to write referrals immediately instead of waiting until they got to a computer lab, said Jonathan Berryman, the school’s climate specialist. Teachers submitted more than 1,000 referrals about individual behavioral incidents this past year, compared to around 300 the previous year.

“With more data, we have a more realistic view of patterns and trends,” he said. And a more restorative approach—seeking in-school alternatives—has prevented some students from repeating behaviors that would lead to suspensions, he said.

Fifth-grade teacher Kristen Hebert – who will be a fifth- and sixth-grade science teacher next year – said the behavioral problems themselves have not changed at Barnard School, but the teacher and administrator responses have.

“I don’t see a change except that people saw that if you filled out the paperwork, things happened. More teachers were willing to fill out the paperwork, because there was more of a chance to get kids the help they need and the services they need,” Hebert said.

She “filled out a lot” of forms in the beginning of the past academic year, because she had a student in her class who was “very troubled. No public school had the services that this child needed,” she said.

The child’s suspensions numbered “in the double digits” in one year, Hebert said. Through the new documentation process, “I was able to prove that this was not his ideal environment. He was able to get to a school that provided what he needed.”

Third-grade teacher Dyann Sousa said she felt “disheartened” this year by the decrease in outside services to help Barnard “students who are in crisis” or affected by trauma. Barnard has a full-time guidance counselor, but only a part-time psychologist and social worker.

“No one wants to suspend a kid. No true educator wants to see a child put out of school,” Sousa said. “But how do you teach when there’s a need that has to be met before a child can learn, before a child can socially go to the next step in life? That’s one of the big variables that’s caused the shift in numbers.”

A School Divided

District leaders have been aware of the school’s divisions since at least the spring.

In late May, Tracey (pictured), the director of instruction, carried out an activity with the entire staff without the principal or assistant principal present.

“Some concerns came up and I wanted to see how widespread it was,” she said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Not much of anything came out around disciplinary issues.”

She had teachers write down their thoughts about the school anonymously on post-it notes; then she compiled the information into a report.

The Independent received copies of this climate check report from three different Barnard teachers, in the form of the exact same Word document with the list of comments on teachers’ successes, concerns, hopes and fears. Tracey wrote an e-mail to teachers explaining the attachment—she herself highlighted areas in “orange to flag concerns about behavior, and green for potential staff morale issues.” Each bullet point is a separate comment by the same person.

Teachers wrote several comments about discipline. Some included “behavioral support” and an “improved process for identifying behavioral concerns” as successes of the administration. Others did not. One expressed concern that “behavior will continue to escalate amongst students, Staff will be pulled in different directions causing divides.”

Another feared the “injury of student or staff.” Another that “behaviors will increase.”

One was concerned that “discipline is inconsistent, no open door policy with administrator.”

Another was concerned about the “inconsistent behavior policy, behavior, it’s not getting better.”

Many teachers mentioned the “lack of communication” and “top-down” nature of administrative decisions. Others feared “retaliation from speaking concerns.”

In the email message to administrators and staff May 28, Tracey wrote that “school is heading in the right direction evidenced by the identified successes. There are some tensions around change for next year, but it is not pervasive.

“Communication as an issue has surfaced, but needed more exploring to get to more specificity. In addition, student behavior has been raised as a concern about expectations and consistency. From my perspective this exercise has shown me that the staff is still cohesive with the exception of a few who have concerns about the direction the school is heading and concerns about top down management.”

Tracey promised in the email that the administration will “examine” the report and “work with the leadership team and staff” to “move forward with elevating Barnard’s excellence.”

“There’s very clearly conflict that has bubbled over into the school climate,” Harries said, when asked about the report. He was briefed on the document in late spring and read it thoroughly for the first time this week. He said Tracey’s summary is “pretty fair and reasonable” and showed a “management concern from some teachers,” but also “significant support for the administration.”

He said the Barnard administration is “processing this feedback on communication points” to tackle with staff at the start of the new academic year “to understand exactly what mechanisms of communication need to be put in place.”

Harries continued to say that the conflict is not widespread among staff. “There’s no question in my mind that there’s division,” he said. “I guess it is the case that there is a relatively small number of staff and teachers – and parents associated with that staff – worried about the climate.”

Making The Switch

Teachers and parents are also divided on Jones-Generette’s decision to move 16 teachers into different positions for the next year. The school has 43 teachers.

Sousa will be a fourth-grade teacher for the upcoming academic year, after teaching third grade for the last seven years. She said she is “willing to try something new,” but that other teachers have “strong personalities that don’t want to be told what to do” and are not open to change.

Jones-Generette explained to Sousa “why she felt this would be my strength,” using teacher evaluations as reference, Sousa said.

Jones-Generette did not have that conversation with all 16 teachers, said teachers union President Cicarella. After receiving messages from teachers critical of the principal’s decision, Cicarella said, he went to the school to talk with Jones-Generette and “check out every single” placement change.

Contractually, he said, it’s “within the principal’s purview” to change the placement of any teacher she wants without a discussion. But usually the decision is preceded by a conversation in the spring, so the principal can explain her decision and hear the teacher’s comments.

Of the 16 teachers moved, about a third felt the principal had included them in the process and that their input was asked and welcome, he said. Another third had been “told” that they would change positions, “with no opportunity for input.” This group of teachers “was OK with the move,” Cicarella said, “but you’re still supposed to have that conversation. It’s good professional policy.”

The last group of teachers had not been notified, “didn’t understand and didn’t agree” with the principal’s decision to change their positions at the school.

“That was a highly unusual number of teachers,” Cicarella said. “I never heard of that many teachers being moved.”

He said he talked with Tracey and Harries about his conversations with Jones-Generette and the Barnard teachers. “I don’t want to say it’s wrong,” he said. “But talk about a red flag.”

Former Glory

Some families are leaving the school. Former PTO President Josh Lidsky said he is pulling his two children out of Barnard and putting them into their local North Haven public schools this upcoming academic year. He said he knows others from North Haven and other out-of-district towns who are doing the same.

Misbehavior has always been a disruptive force in the school, including under the previous principal, he said. “There’s not enough corrective disciplining going on in school. Teachers are not instructed on how to handle the problem.”

And the school atmosphere became ugly when Jones-Generette became principal, he said, with “teachers screaming and fighting in the hallways.” He said parents and teachers were disappointed that they had “no say in who our principal was going to be. We should’ve been a part of the process.”

A mother of two Barnard students, Cecilia Shea (pictured) said she does not like the way the school has changed under Jones-Generette. She is not considering moving her children to another school. The school offers fewer activities for students during, before and after school, she said, and staff and parents feel uncomfortable talking with the principal.

“I don’t agree with the fact that you should use intimidation and bullying to boss people around,” she said of Jones-Generette’s management style.

Jones-Generette served one year as the principal of Lincoln-Bassett School, before the district transferred her to Barnard School.

A state audit of the school in the middle of her tenure at Lincoln-Bassett showed “tension” between some teachers “more comfortable with the pace of change and those are not yet sure that so much change is needed.” Click here to read the full document.

“Some teachers expressed the opinion that they feel less empowered as they are being told what to do about everything from handling discipline, to instructional approaches, to the goals specified for their evaluation. If not managed carefully, this divide and tension could impede the school’s short- and long-term progress,” the report reads.

Harries said the “common element” between the situation at Barnard and Lincoln-Bassett is “two school environments that needed significant improvements where there may be staff that will be uncomfortable with that change agenda. That is entirely appropriate. God bless Yolanda for being willing to take on consecutive environments where change is necessary…Our job and Yolanda’s job is not to make staff comfortable.”

“I’m not going to comment on my interim principalship at Lincoln-Bassett,” Jones-Generette said, when asked how she would compare the situations at Barnard and Lincoln-Bassett.

But she did comment on her time as assistant principal of Barnard between 2010 and 2013. When she began, it was a “Tier 3” school, with low test scores and issues with “climate and culture,” she said. Part of her job then was to “work on” improving that school climate, as part of the beginning of the district’s school reform overhaul.

“All teachers except one stayed on board,” Jones-Generette said. Now, she said she is “dealing with the same teachers who were part of that change.” Many of the early school reform grants and services “have subsided,” and she is working on finding more, she said.

Jones-Generette said she is seeking opportunities for “vertical team leadership,” with teachers choosing “which teacher they wanted to lead them. She said a few teachers find it difficult to deal with change. “Out of 43 teachers, three are not happy with the changes,” she said.

“If she wasn’t making changes, I’d be concerned,” Harries said. “The goal of leadership is not just to make people happy. The goal of leadership should be to improve the institution.”

Teachers do see successes at the school, according to the climate check document, including “more behavior supports”  and a “principal that is fair and finds strengths.”

Many mentioned Assistant Principal Eugene Foreman as a positive force in the building. The school’s “distributed leadership model” means Assistant Principal Eugene Foreman is responsible for overseeing discipline in pre-K through fifth grade, while Berryman handles sixth through eighth grade, Jones-Generette said. “What this is affords me is the ability to get into all the classrooms,” she said.

Jones-Generette stood by the changes she’s made, though she said there is room for improvement. “I met with all teachers and had a conversation about what I was thinking about,” she said. “My goal is for student learning to increase.”

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posted by: loquacious truth on July 10, 2015  8:41pm

I can’t tell you how many Hillhouse teachers reached out to me after seeing this article. The district has managed to pull the same trick on our staff. Our climate was so bad this year! Many good veteran teachers have left, are leaving, or want to leave. And the common demoninators,“Garth harries and Dr. Tracy’s” you don’t have to work in the schools to put the pieces together, just listen to their words and their tone in regard to the staff,“Teachers shouldn’t be comfortable” or its not the Principals job. They are really mismanaging the relationship they have with their NewHaven teachers and are funneling that poor leadership attitude down to their Principals! Teachers talk and the word on the street is” don’t come to New Haven to teach! I remember when my fellow teachers in other districts wanted to come to New Haven! Now the ship is sinking, people are going overboard and the few good veteran teachers we have left are trying to plug up the holes. Meanwhile these Two Leaders, keep making more holes and hiring more Principals! It’s time for a change in leadership and maybe it starts with these 2? When companies get sold its usually the leadership and not the work force that gets replaced! Someone please do some further investigative journalists!

posted by: AliceB on July 10, 2015  11:40pm

Loquacious truth is absolutely correct. The atmosphere at Hillhouse is beyond belief. Teachers have been bullied and humiliated.  Veteran teachers who have much to contribute are being harassed on a routine basis. The two new principals at the new academies are just not qualified yet they were placed in positions of leadership. Qualified leaders who have wisdom don’t use fear tactics they value experience and know that we all have much to contribute.
Unfortunately Ms. Tracey and Mr. Harries and the Board do not understand what is necessary in the hiring process.
Hillhouse has been destroyed and no one is doing a thing. Contact the teachers and those who are not afraid to speak will tell you and show you quite a bit.

posted by: yim-a on July 11, 2015  6:45am

Having worked in community health for over a decade in the greater New Haven area, the scenario is a familiar one.  The recipe:  a community with near overwhelming needs, declining and scarce resources, and heightened expectations from management/administration.  The result:  nasty infighting between administrators and providers/teachers, extreme cognitive dissonance (a divide between expectations and the resources available to meet those expectations), and a chronic state of stress and discontent.  I don’t pretend to have a sweeping theory on how to address these endemic problems, but do know that what we’re doing these days just isn’t working.

posted by: Mary Brown on July 11, 2015  9:07am

Educating students who are struggling with traumatic experiences is a very difficult task. In order to accomplish the goal of educating students one must educate the whole child. A student who is consistently acting out obviously needs to meet regularly with a social worker. They also will need to have their educational plan modified to meet their individual needs. Attacking the principal is not going to solve the problems of the students. Parents and teachers need to find a way to have productive conversations with the principal that will improve the culture and climate of the school.

posted by: ThinkingOutLoud on July 11, 2015  9:12am

I wish the New Haven Independent would contact me on my experience with Barnard. This past school year has literally exacerbated health issues for me due to all the stress I’ve had to endure with school staff since apparently no one can follow the requirements of my daughter’s 504 Plan, which is a legal document. My daughter’s been written up and has had in and out of school suspension for many issues that could’ve been avoided and prevented had school faculty followed the 504 Plan and use creative techniques to manage my daughter’s medical and academic issues. I don’t know if the answer is changing school administration or not, however, I do know that when it comes to managing children with special needs, they have no clue. The same issues I’ve been talking about since my daughter was in third grade, are the same issues we’re still talking about, and she’s now going into eighth grade. Two voicemails to Tracey and one to Harries, and still no response. Now they finally agree that a Functional Behavioral Assessment and other testing should be done…. Isn’t this what I’ve been saying since she was in third grade? that something else is happening that you’re missing? I’m beyond frustrated and sick over this. Someone needs to educate the educators that though some children do not need and/or may not require special education services; they do need teachers who are understanding of their issues and can go over work individually, at a slower pace and a little guidance and care to get the child to learn. I don’t understand why I have to be repeatedly told “well, there are 23 other kids in the class so there’s not much time we can offer on an individual basis”... Ok, are the 23 other kids children with special needs? I thought the role of a teacher/educator is to make sure the child LEARNS, however, I’m slowly realizing that this is not so anymore. Please someone, fix it!

posted by: AliceB on July 11, 2015  11:19am

Thinking Out Loud has every right to feel frustrated.  I had four students who never received their modification plans because the individual who was in charge never finalized the plans; in other words I was never made aware of the fact that these students needed modifications until June .  These students did well enough during the year so no interventions were necessary but they may have performed even better had I been advised of their issues. Teachers only know which students have IEPs when we receive the plans. 
The only reason I even found out was by accident when speaking with a special Ed teacher who discovered the error. 
This is why communication is so important.  Teachers do not share information either. We may have realized this error sooner if we shared information.
If the parents of these students knew of this error I believe they would have the right to file a complaint or more.

posted by: WildwildWestEducator on July 11, 2015  11:39am

As an educator in this building, I would like to commend the leadership of the building including the principal and vice principal. They have done a lot with behaviors since in previous years it was undocumented or swept under the rug. The teachers who are disgruntled should leave. They do nothing to enhance the academic culture. They are there for a paycheck and not the students. The principal has established hours for anyone to enter her office. When she changed the staff it was based on academics and nothing else. Teachers were placed in their strength areas. Some teachers were just comfortable not educating children and passing them on. Parents have the right to change schools and should if the fit is not good. But let’s not kid ourselves and say that most out of district parents are in New Haven for the free education up to kindergarten . Then they put their children in their home districts. I enjoy working at Barnard and can’t wait to see the consistency return when school begins again .

posted by: Noteworthy on July 11, 2015  11:58am

Barnard Bust Notes:

1. When you come to an interview armed with your NH BOE handler and your union parrot, expect to get the defensive and arrogant conversation reported here.

2. It is clear that Generette’s past poor performance has taught her nothing.

3. It is equally clear that Harris is just glad to have a warm body in a troubled school.

4. The issues surrounding students are directly opposite of the community narrative proffered by Mayor Harp and top cop Esserman notwithstanding the similar management styles.

posted by: nhteach on July 11, 2015  9:00pm

As a New Haven public school teacher (but at a different school) it’s hard to tell from this article if the problem is a principal that came in and is doing a bad job and is dividing the staff or if there are many teachers at the school that just aren’t great at their job. I would be curious to know the percentage of teachers rated at each level (1-5) on their TEVAL. I imagine that information is not available, but it would certainly be interesting. It is a huge red flag that the principal is moving so many teachers to different positions in one year-especially considering how many of the teachers weren’t given fair notice about this.

posted by: Kids First on July 11, 2015  11:46pm

Why is this principal constantly defended by Harries? Damage was done at Lincoln Bassett & Harries rewarded former principal & AP & moved them to Barnard & Fair Haven.  So sad & avoidable!

posted by: I LOVE TO TEACH on July 12, 2015  9:43am

Working with the children of New Haven is a great honor for the teachers. We all want what is best for each individual’s future. We came to New Haven knowing there would be challenges because of circumstances at home and surrounding the neighborhoods. Yet, knowing this we chose to come when people said we shouldn’t work in an inner city it’s hopeless. It is not hopeless there are amazing students accomplishing outstanding goals everyday. Our problem as teachers is the fight we have away from the students with our administrators.I don’t like lumping everyone together but for this purpose I will use the word administrators there are many great ones. The fight is all about power. I sit in this chair you will do as I say. If you don’t there will be retaliation taken within the rules of the contract. Try doing something different, try connecting outside the curriculum, try adjusting to the students before you. The administration doesn’t like what you’re doing you become a TEVAL victim. Stand up for what you are doing because each class is different and you still become a TEVAL victim. The process is set up for making teachers and students successful. However, the administration uses it to bully. It is not at just Barnard but at many schools. The administrators don’t manage the building, they control it. Management classes need to be part of their PD days. Bully a person whether adult or child and you get the same results. If teachers acted like administrators do within our classroom we would be bullied even more. I still love my job I just wish administrators understood what managing a building meant compared to controlling a building. Good luck to all the teachers you are awesome and accomplish great things in-spite of being held back.

posted by: weesa on July 12, 2015  2:24pm

I find it very sad how Mrs Generette has managed to pull the wool over Dr Tracey and Mr Harries eyes. She DOES NOT take care of situations at Barnard she makes Mr Foreman do it.She will not speak with a parent unless they have a appointment. The list goes on and on

posted by: Kells83 on July 13, 2015  2:13pm

Weesa I agree with you. My child has been a student at Barnard for 4 years and I am not happy with her performance at all. I feel that Mr. Foreman actually leads the school. He should be moved up to Principal. Generette needs to go in my opinion. I’m not sure why she was sent back to Barnard after doing so poorly at Lincoln Bassett. I applaud Mr. Foreman for a job well done.

posted by: weesa on July 13, 2015  3:25pm

Kells83 I agree with you about Mr Foreman being the principal. I find it sad that some of the parents actually thought he was the Principal. I heard of a situations where she was more concerned of doing meetings and showing no concern for students in emergency situations
She would be asked to leave the meeting and she would refuse. Like I said in my first post the list goes on and on.

posted by: Nancyteach on July 13, 2015  10:27pm

The most disturbing thing about this article isn’t the BS spewing from the principal’s mouth or how pathetic it is that she has to have her boss and union president with her, it’s the circle the wagons, sweep it under the rug comments by Harries.  All you have to do is read the informal survey the reporter attached to get a sense of the climate. So before we all jump on the Hallelujah Express and bow down at the altar of Generette, lets take a little trip down memory lane.

*While Assistant Principal at Barnard:
*Many teachers leave their evaluation meetings in tears, her lack of support and “comfort” demoralizing and stressful.  No love lost when she leaves

*As principal at LB:
*Divides the staff, student behaviors and student on teacher violence increases
*Removed as principal in May, same month as intent to sue letter is sent to BOE concerning her lack of response when a teacher was in crisis
*Spends rest of school year over at Barnard literally crying to anyone how Harries screwed her over

*As Principal at Barnard:
*Dismantles PTO, SPMT, Vertical teams
*Defers scheduling, coverage, meetings with parents, disciple, bus duty and lunch duty (contractually her obligations), everything to Foreman, the asst. principal. 
*Says downtown forbids her from doing any discipline
*Institutes closed door policy: If her door is closed, DO NOT knock, that is her “ME” time.  Schedule an appointment with the secretary during the two hours she has open during the day when you are teaching.
*Chooses NOT to seek to renew grant for trauma students, says it leaves them too traumatized and teachers too overwhelmed
*Vehemently seeks retribution on anyone who opposes her. Defensive. Does not allow for collaboration
*Student behaviors and student on teacher violence increase dramatically
*Cancels School Reform meeting therefore not allowing staff to express their concerns to an objective panel

The list goes on and on.  Shame on you Harries and Tracey.  So much for Kids First.

posted by: just my thought on July 14, 2015  8:33am

Here is my thoughts on the situation.
Mrs. Generette is doing her job. The people that are causing the problems are those who are use to getting their way. A teacher can be moved around by the principal’s need to fill and assets the schools need. When teachers get their certificate to teach, of is to teach in a desired grade level. If any teacher is this strong against their schools administration, there is the door, just leave. If you dont want to be in the building, ask to transfer somewhere else.
The job Mrs. Generette is doing is great. The problem has been the past schools. If she had to make recommended changes at Lincoln Bassett,because the prior administration let the school in a mess, why get on her back.No one said a word, when Mrs. Clayton was there before Mrs. Generette. And no one made any fuss when Mr. Crocco was at Barnard.
Mrs. Generettes success at Barnard will show. Witn her team, they have made the right changes to clean up problems that were already there.
Here is thought for those who wish to bash Mrs. Generette and any Administrator, a find out for yourself what is really happening in your child’s school and I would bet, and the same things that you see in new haven are happening across the state.
A true story that the New Haven independent should tackle is why is there a big shortage of teachers in the district and why have so many administrator’s left the district within the last 2-3 years.
To Mrs. Jones generette, remember Hebrews 11.1 and Psalms 23. Just have faith and everything will be behind you.

posted by: Nancyteach on July 14, 2015  10:16am

If this is Mrs. Generette doing her job then she’s doing a horrendous one.  Why is it that the teachers who are afraid of retaliation, or who are speaking up for the rights of the students, and families are called disgruntled?  Just because someone has a different opinion and chooses to speak about the poor job the principal is doing may actually be someone who believes that things need to change.  Perhaps sucking up so that they don’t receive any retributions say more about them then the disgruntled teachers.  Perhaps it’s the people who just go along to get along who are the real problem.  I would bet you would find problems at other districts but not one at this level where a principal is so inadequate that lawsuits are the norm.

posted by: Kells83 on July 14, 2015  1:30pm

justmythought I wasn’t crazy about Crocco either don’t get me wrong, but he was available to speak with parents who may have an issue or questions. She’s not the most pleasant person and seems very defensive when asked certain questions. I would love to see her be successful at Barnard but I think she needs a better approach. Barnard has some very wonderful teachers and I love the school, my daughter loves the school as well. I just feel that she needs to be the principal and lead. She has no control over that school at all.

posted by: Teachergal on July 15, 2015  1:05pm

Lol! Teachers spend their own money on supplies, attend professional development for their grades, learn and develop curriculum for their grades whIch is why they want to stay in the grade they have been hired by to teach. I experienc d many of the same horror stories as shared here. How would Ms. G and Harries like to have their jobs changed every few years? This does not happen in a he suburbs. Teachers get to gain experience and stay in the positions they were hired for unless of course they personally request a change because they do not like the position. Personally, I think it’s NHs way of bullying and getting rid of teachers. Same old BS just another year. NHPS are broken and strategies to improve them are not working. As a veteran NH teacher who was good as stated on my TEVALs, I was bullied so much that I retired early!  Too many of the administrators are bullies not leaders!

posted by: TTFN on July 15, 2015  1:47pm

In my opinion, Barnard WAS and IS a wonderful place to work.  For the most part the staff is supportive of one another.  This article has given a voice to the handful of people who have ALWAYS had conflict with our leadership. Every year, most of these unhappy teachers would file grievance after grievance from Mr. Crocco to Mr. Perone, and now to Mrs. Generette.  The problem is some people look for ANYTHING negative to focus on and amplify.  Let’s look at the number of unhappy staff and parents at Barnard according to this article.  Out of the estimated 550+ families, a FEW were rallied to speak about their negative experience.  That is roughly 3 out of 550 famies. Let’s look at some other numbers:  Approximately 5 unhappy staff members (according to this article) out of 60+ staff.  Always remember there are two sides to every story.  It seems this reporter has focused on the minority causing the negative overtone because she was contacted by a few disgruntled staff.  It also seems 4 out of the 5 teachers complaining have a history of becoming confrontational with any of our past and/or present leadership.  I hope all involved can just do the job of helping our students learn.  None of us are perfect, we all have things we need to work on, what matters most is what we all do next.  I am proud to work at Barnard and feel very supported by most of my colleagues and our leadership team.  Barnard is a wonderful learning environment that continues to work on closing the achievement gap despite our challenges.

posted by: Mommy3 on July 16, 2015  10:44pm

As I read this article and the comments, I am amazed by WildWildWest and TTNL. As a parent of 3 children at Barnard, I can assure you we did not come there for the “free” Kindergarten, and as a parent who contacted the Independent along with the Register, I did so because after contacting downtown numerous times nothing was getting done.  Danny Diaz, the parent advocate, has been “inundated” with complaints about the principal throughout the year so it is way more than 3 parents. It was our parent group who initiated contact with the Independent, the Register and Channel 8 and it was us, the parents, who tried to rally the teachers to become involved, not the other way around. Many teachers would not comment or get involved due to fears of retribution. I assure you the story would have been much different if we could of had the teachers’ support and their first hand accounts of the negative affects Mrs. Generette has had on Barnard.  Since our children range from PreK to 6th grade I see the difference in the climate of the school with the teachers who have to work with Mrs. Generette and those who are lucky enough to deal only with Mr. Foreman. As a parent, Mrs. Generette refused to meet with me and my husband numerous times concerning a violent student in my child’s classroom. This student not only hit my child and other students daily, but was also constantly hitting the teacher. Many of us parents attempted to speak to Mrs. Generette about our concerns since we started seeing issues in our own children’s behavior due to this one student. Mrs. Generette refused to address the problem, and instead sent us to Mr. Foreman, who luckily is knowledgeable, supportive, and now in our family’s eyes, the actual leader of the school.  As involved parents, we loved Barnard. We resent being told that if we don’t like the direction the school is heading, go somewhere else. We resent being called disgruntled.  We care about our children’s school and have a right to speak up.

posted by: bbb$ on July 17, 2015  9:49am

I agree with TTFN. Barnard is not a troubled school and it provides a wonderful learning experience for our students. I am an educator at Barnard and I challenge those educators who are pointing fingers at Mrs. Generette to channel their energy into fixing the real problem- obtaining additional resources to help our troubled students. (every school in every district has students who need extra support) Behavioral issues that are present are absolutely not a reflection on Mrs. Generette’s leadership, they are an outcome of the serious challenges that some of our students face at home. Increased suspensions reflect the fact that our teachers and administrators are addressing these issues and taking action to manage these behaviors. So many students have confided in me and have asked for my help with dealing with the troubling situations that have made their home life difficult. Challenges at home carry over into challenges at school. These students who are trying to cope with incarcerated parents and other trauma situations need a huge amount of support in order to get them to be active learners and respectful towards fellow students and teachers.
As far as the teachers who are unhappy with being moved, I challenge you to talk with teachers from other districts. I have and have been told that other principals have made similar moves (movement within the school, transfers to other schools, change in roles etc.) without getting approval from parents or teachers.
In my opinion, Mrs. Generette has been consistently fair and supportive. I have never walked out of her office crying and I have never felt that I have been bullied by her. Skeptics- yes, I have felt comfortable expressing a difference in opinion and I have not suffered any retribution for doing so; infact, Mrs. Generette has welcomed my opinions and some of my colleagues opinions in her effort to manage the school’s initiatives in the best possible way.

posted by: AliceB on July 17, 2015  11:07am

If anyone; teacher, parent, student, anyone at all feels bullied by this principal then that is one too many.  Doesn’t New Haven have a zero tolerance for bullying??

posted by: Mommy3 on July 17, 2015  11:21am

Sorry, I completely disagree. My child, her classmates, and the teacher would never had to endure such daily violence under the tenure of Mr. Crocco, and he certainly would have made himself available to hear all the parents’ complaints.  Like him or not, he did his job.  Trauma and incarcerated parents aren’t something new to Barnard this year.  In a previous post it states that Mrs. Generette chose NOT to seek to renew the program that helps trauma students.  If she and all of you who support her through these posts are so concerned, why the complacency?  Why are you not on record as supporting her? Although I like you both, and since both of you are upstairs, I think neither one of you have to deal with Mrs. Generette the way us parents have.  The principal already has a lawsuit against her for student on teacher violence, perhaps we can foresee another one? Maybe when the Register, Channel 8 and Fox News finally get involved, enough will be enough.  Maybe when us parents finally address the Board, enough will be enough.

posted by: Nancyteach on July 17, 2015  12:30pm

Well said AliceB!  Well Garth Harries, does it or doesn’t it?!