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Inside sources at Asbury Park Public Schools continue to send in information, particularly about Asbury High School where families remain incensed by the Administration’s failure to hire a teacher qualified to assist students in the Allied Health Academy while others are stuck in the auditorium watching movies.
More on that below. Let’s start with an incident back in December where “personnel heard yelling and cursing” in the Central Office. The curser was Superintendent Rashawn Adams, irate because Kimmy Taylor, one of six Supervisors of Instruction (this for a district with less than 1,400 students), was overheard telling teachers during a Professional Development session that she was neither trained nor certified in the Danielson method for evaluating teachers. (This is a common complaint among Asbury Park staff: the district uses the highly-regarded Danielson Framework but the evaluators don’t know understand it.) Taylor’s confession led to a grievance from teachers, then an arbitration hearing where staff confirmed this event, and then to Adams’ temper tantrum.
Staff members note that it’s not clear Adams himself is trained and/or certified in Danielson although he regularly observes teachers and gives them evaluations that place them on corrective improvement plans. One says, “there has to be better things for Adams to do…Maybe teach a class or have one of your six supervisors teach so students actually learn something and pass classes they need to graduate instead of watching movies in the auditorium, playing UNO, or making TikTok videos.”
Back to Allied Health and general dysfunction at Asbury Park High School. Starting in freshman year Allied Health students had been taught by their beloved teacher Sara Gogan, who resigned when Asbury Park High School Principal Bridget O’Neill labeled her “ineffective” on her annual evaluation after years of high marks. Gogan was immediately snatched up by nearby Neptune Public Schools, leaving Allied Health students without an instructor for the last two months and unable to prepare to pass their NHA Patient Care Technician License test.
Some of this new information regards O’Neill, who was hired by the School Board at the June 23d meeting at a salary of $149,083, Step 9 of the 2022-2023 Principal’s Salary Guide. Step 9 typically means the staff member is in their ninth year as a principal. Yet according to O’Neill’s Linkedin profile, she didn’t serve as a principal until 2019, two years at the Harlem Children’s Zone (a NYC charter network) and one year at a high school in Hamilton. Then she came to Asbury Park.
According to sources, O’Neill has “closed down her office and is nowhere to be found throughout the school day.” Former Athletic Director Mark Gerbino—who has been certified to be a principal for 23 years — is acting as O’Neill’s Vice Principal/Trainer. (Adams is threatened by Gerbino because teachers preferred him as superintendent so Adams first placed him on administrative leave and then gave him the title of “principal on special assignment” because, well, every 1,400-student district needs a floating principal.) New Athletic Director Troy Bowers is said to be accompanying O’Neill to meetings and “helping her live her dream job.”
The 2nd semester of the 2022-2023 school year was supposed to end on January 26th but was postponed until the 30th because most classes at the high school didn’t have assigned teachers and room locations. Also, some students had been enrolled in classes they had already completed. Special education classes are without certified special education teachers and exceed the cap for ratio for students to teachers. The Administration “totally disregards the needs of the students and their Individualized Education Plans,” says a high school staff member. These teachers have been assigned to general education classes, including electives, with no materials or curricula. English Language Learners have no support and are placed in electives that lack curricula or ELL teachers. These electives include Career Exploration, Journalism, Credit Recover, and Applied Research but they are really “schedule fillers” that lack any sort of meaningful course content.
As of Monday, January 30th, 11th and 12th graders considered to be at risk of not graduating have been placed in all-virtual programs in the library. They have been dropped from all their scheduled courses. These include students with IEP’s and ELL students who are missing classes to hypothetically earn credit for classes they failed, all within a few days through something called “buy back hours.”
The future of the Allied Health Academy remains unclear. On Tuesday a Facebook post on the district’s page announced Dr. Cassandra Hicks, an obstetrician, was helping students review but, according to sources, not all Allied Health students were invited to attend. (It’s not clear if Dr. Hicks is qualified to tutor students seeking to earn their NHA Patient Care Technician License.) Those who did attend didn’t meet in their usual classroom, equipped with nursing supplies, because O’Neill either turned it into a weight room or is planning on doing so. (In the photo above you can see the activity; that’s Adams in red sweatshirt.) One teacher asked a senior in the program why he was in the hallway instead of in that classroom; he said he wasn’t invited.
Below is a tweet from the high school open house this past week which touted the Allied Health Academy as an option for prospective students.
Awesome 🥰 https://t.co/PUwNqMQOvg
— Kimmy Taylor (@kekejoy62) February 14, 2023
Those who follow NJER’s Asbury Park coverage know all about the January 26th School Board meeting where Allied Health students and their parents assailed Adams and O’Neill for their failure to rectify the situation. (For a video of the confrontation, click on this link.) Mid-meeting the families confronted Adams in the hallway, asking him “why don’t you care?” In addition, the Student Representative to the Board, 11th grader Sara Martinez-Hernandez, had prepared a statement but was told by Adams “not to speak of these topics” at the Board meeting.
She did anyway. A source sent me her complete remarks:
“I was actually told not to speak tonight. I was going to say something but I was told it wouldn’t be right. But I think that it would be right that I do because the things I bring up is something that needs to be heard not just by one person but by everyone in this room because all of you have the ability to change the things that are happening at Asbury Park High School.
The 11th grade Dream Academy student [Dream Academy is a dual-enrollment program with Brookdale Community College that has been cut] shared the restrictions placed on the students when physically present at the Brookdale campus and emphasized how school days are spent at the Asbury Park High School include the group being stuck in a classroom with no instruction and no supervision. She goes on the stress the slow death of [Career Technical Education] academies (Allied Health and Law Enforcement). She referred to the students left without instructors for these programs as ‘sitting around doing nothing.’ She stated, “‘his year and this environment are starting to feel different,’ as she explained what it was like to be a student at Asbury Park High School.”
Several sources confirmed that the morning after the board meeting Adams abruptly showed up at the Asbury Park High School before 8 am and took Sara, the student representative, into O’Neill’s office to speak to her alone. Teachers and staff found this inappropriate at best; some described it as “bullying.” Meanwhile, O’Neill sat at the secretary’s desk “like a minion.” One source: “I can’t stress enough that Adams was in a room with a female student by himself for at least a 1/2 hour while O’Neill just sat a secretary’s desk on the outside. And no parents were called!!!!”