Last week, Manhattan Judge Manuel Mendez dismissed the reinstatement petition of Marcella Sills, a former principal who was fired for being chronically late to school, because Sills was late filing her petition.
Sills, 51, was fired from her $128,000 post as principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in Jan, 2014, after media exposes called attention to conditions at the school such as the lack of Common Core textbooks, gym and art classes, which earned it the moniker “The School of No.” The school did not have a proper nurse’s office and no special-education staffers.
It was reported that students were allowed to watch movies for hours on end, while staffers complained about an overwhelming sense of administrative incompetence.
In 2016, Sills entered into arbitration with the school district in a bid to reverse her dismissal and reinstate her at her post, because her union contract did not actually specify a start time for her workday, hence she could not be marked late.
The arbitrator rejected the basis of her petition, saying it “defies common sense” because she was expected to show up when the students arrived by 8:30 a.m.
PS 106, Far Rockaway, NY. – Marcella Sills, the school’s former principal has being accused of overwhelming administrative incompetence
In her suit Sills, who worked for the DOE for roughly 16 years and was appointed principal at PS 106 in 2005, stated that the contract required principals to work seven hours and 15 minutes a day, without setting start and end times: “Without a start time there cannot be a late time,” Sills claimed in her suit.
She therefore had “no expectation, let alone obligation,” to show up before the bell rang. Her contention was that her dismissal was due to “bias, excess of power and procedural defects,” rather than a habit of chronic tardiness.
The arbitrator ruled however, that Sills had “committed theft of time” between September 2012 and January 2014 by failing to document 178 instances of her tardiness and hours absent from school.
David Reilly, the first hearing officer had found the former principal guilty of “extreme misconduct,” including excessive lateness, failing to report her absences while collecting full pay and benefits, and causing the city Department of Education “widespread negative publicity.”
After a month-long hearing in her initial petition, he concluded that her conduct was “too extreme to support any penalty other than discharge.”
In throwing out her latest petition, Manhattan Judge Manuel Mendez noted that the: “Petitioner commenced this proceeding on April 19, 2016, over two months after the 10-day limitations period had expired, and this proceeding is time-barred,” Judge Mendez wrote in dismissing her petition.