Eva Moskowitz said Friday that she will not fire the Success Academy principal who created the "got to go" list of struggling students he wanted to leave the school, as documented in a widely read New York Times article.
"At Success, we simply don't believe in throwing people on the trash heap for the sake of public relations," Moskowitz, the charter network's CEO, said during a press conference convened to respond to the Times piece.
Moskowitz said she had received "a lot of P.R. advice" suggesting that she fire the principal, Candido Brown.
Brown sobbed throughout the press conference, apologized for creating the note and said he was not directed to do so by any of his managers. He left before the event ended.
Brown and Moskowitz were flanked by dozens of Success principals, several of whom wept, and others who stood with their arms folded, looking stonily at the reporters before them.
While Moskowitz said she would not yield to pressure to fire Brown, reporters were handed print-outs of an email Moskowitz sent in which she describes Brown as "stubborn and somewhat dense."
"The normal intellectual explanation or boss tells [sic] to do something does not get through," Moskowitz added, in an email from December 2014.
That email was part of a thread that was meant to demonstrate to reporters that Brown was properly reprimanded after the "got to go" list was discovered by high-level Success administrators.
Moskowitz noted that Brown was immediately called into a meeting and was censured for creating the list.
Shapiro goes on to report that Moskowitz canceled another appearance today and that no one in the charter world would defend her (other than James Merriman who defended her yeserday in the Times story.)
Ah, if only Arthur Miller were alive to dramatize this story for the stage.
So basically Moskowitz throws the "dense" principal under the bus for putting into writing what is Success's push-out policy, but gets him to stay around so she can say that Success doesn't "throw people onto the trash heap."
Moskowitz also claims this "Got To Go" practice at SA Fort Greene was an anomaly that only happened at that one school.
What a show!
I have a difficult time seeing how this helps Moskowitz long-term - it simply adds to the bad reputation, with the SA staff staring stonily at the press as the sacrificial lamb/dense principal cries through a press conference while also laying down a marker for the press to follow up on.
If the push out practice was an anomaly, then it had better not show up anywhere else.
The Taylor Times story reported that the practice did indeed happen at other schools.
Other news organizations have reported the same (see here, for example.)
That's a road map for reporters to follow to prove that the push out practice was not an anomaly, that it goes to the core of what Success does.
I can't wait to see what kind of press response Eva puts on if more stories of push out follow this one.
One final thing to say about Eva - you can see why the powers that be didn't want her to run for mayor and why they're not defending her now.
Not only was this the kind of scrutiny she was going to get as a mayoral candidate, but clearly, given the insane press response she put on today, she's not exactly the best at defusing these situations.
It's not going out on too much of a limb to make a prediction that Eva gets the heave-ho from Success if this stuff continues.
Just as Michelle Rhee was dispensable to the hedge fund managers/education reformers, so is Eva Moskowitz.
She's doing more damage than good to the charter/privatization cause - don't be surprised if there's not a lot of pressure behind the scenes from the SA sugar daddies to push her out.