Superintendent targeted veteran teachers over age: suit
By Susan Edelman
June 2, 2018 | 10:37pm | Updated
Rose Marie Mills
An adult-education superintendent who already has cost the city $362,000 in a disability-discrimination settlement now faces accusations she targeted 13 teachers because of their age.
Rose-Marie Mills, who heads the city’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education, is waging a campaign to get rid of veteran, high-performing educators in their 50s, 60s and 70s, the teachers say.
“I want blood,” Mills allegedly told a former principal, the teachers’ lawyer, Bryan Glass, wrote last month to the state Division of Human Rights, which is investigating.
If the division finds the complaint is valid, the teachers could sue the city, raising the prospect of more payouts.
The office serves about 41,000 students citywide, holding English classes for immigrants and others age 21 and up who want to obtain high-school equivalency degrees. Despite a $52 million budget, the office awarded only 150 diplomas last school year, The Post has reported.
Last June, the city Department of Education settled for $362,000 a suit from an office director, whom Mills had terminated after he was diagnosed with a medical condition requiring brain surgery.
One former OACE assistant principal, Luckisha Amankwah, has filed a suit claiming Mills demoted her for refusing to give bad reviews to two teachers whom Amankwah believed didn’t deserve them.
Of the teachers who filed the complaints, three were fired and want their jobs back, along with back pay and other lost benefits. The others want unsatisfactory ratings overturned.
The complaints are filled with horror stories.
Lisa Miller, 58, who has a Master’s Degree in teaching English as a second language, said administrators cited her for extending a lesson and not telling students to “turn and talk to your partner.”
“They would ask me to do something one day, and fault me for not doing something else another day,” she states. “Despite evidence that I did the things they asked me to do, they denied that I did them.”
Roberta Pikser, 76, was let go and replaced with a younger ESL instructor.
“After nearly 20 years of commendable service, I suddenly became a bad teacher,” Pikser said. “Although I did what the principal asked of me, it was not deemed satisfactory. What had been praised in previous lessons was now condemned.”
Several students wrote letters praising Pikser. Fecumdo Ferrayra, from Argentina, said she helped him improve his English, write a résumé and prepare for job interviews.
Sarah Tyson, 63, said her supervisor berated and screamed at her.
“It was a shock to me. I was targeted and I didn’t know why,” she said, adding that she learned the same thing was happening to other older staffers.
The teachers hope new Chancellor Richard Carranza takes a hard look at Mills.
“She runs her team using fear and intimidation,” a former manager said. “There’s been a huge loss of institutional memory and expertise. It’s such a crime.”
Reached by phone, Mills told a reporter, “Have a wonderful day,” and hung up.
DOE spokesman Douglas Cohen said, “We take any discrimination allegations seriously, and are reviewing the complaints.”