Paterson principal demoted days after sign mishap; officials cite performance issues

Photo of the sign provided by school board member Corey Teague
City education officials have demoted an elementary school principal days after a school board member circulated a photo showing misspellings in a large announcement sign outside one of the building’s entrances.

The sign at School 20’s side entrance listed events for “Dicember 2014.” It alerted people to the date for “progress reepor” and had the numeral one placed backwards in another instance.

Officials said the sign apparently contained those errors for more than a week, but apparently no one noticed until city school board member Corey Teague distributed copies of a photo of the errors.

If this is how the administration takes care of signage how can we expect the students to do better? We must be held to a higher standard,” wrote Teague in an email accompanying the photo.

Officials said a custodian at the school had made the mistake in updating the sign — the type in which individual magnetized letters are used to form words. Officials said the sign was outside a side entrance that was generally not used by the principal or other staff members.

The principal, Antoinette Young, is being reassigned to an as-yet undetermined position, said district spokeswoman Terry Corallo. The vice principal, Boris Simon, is serving as interim principal, Corallo said.

When asked if Young was being demoted because of the sign, Corallo said, “It’s a personnel matter. I’m not going to discuss what it’s about.”

But officials said there were other reasons for the demotion besides the sign mishap. Two officials said Young already was under a Corrective Action Plan designed to address shortcomings in her performance.

Young could not be reached for comment. The head of the union that represents city principals did not respond to a phone message seeking her input for this story.

Young has been principal at School 20 for less than two years, according to district records. Prior to that, she had been a vice principal. District payroll records list her salary at the start of this academic year at 108,000. Corallo declined to respond when asked whether Young’s salary would be cut as a result of the demotion.

School 20, located on East 37th Street, has about 465 students in grades kindergarten through eight. As part of the restructuring of the district’s special education program, the school also contains classes for students with behavioral disabilities.

Teague said he was not trying to get the principal disciplined when he sent out the photo of the sign. “I was just trying to say we shouldn’t accept things like this,” said Teague.

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