The Department of Education (DOE) has replaced the principal at a Midwood elementary school following an outcry over a parent’s controversial arrest.
Parents have been calling for the ouster of P.S. 193 Principal Tami Flynn ever since police arrested Parents’ Association treasurer Vinny Nemorinin February. Nemorin was called back to the school and placed in handcuffs hours after confronting a teacher who refused to allow his son to use the bathroom. The seven-year-old soiled himself at school and Nemorin said he only became aware of the incident after he picked his son up from school.
Parents said the arrest inflamed long-simmering tensions and exposed a culture of hostility under Flynn’s leadership. A group of parents immediately began picketing outside the school to call for Flynn’s removal.
Jennifer Brown, who led the protest as president of the Parents’ Association, said the leadership change restored trust between parents and the DOE.
“To see that we were heard after all that time picketing and going to meetings shows DOE supports parent involvement and parents advocating for their children,” she said. “Most of all, I’m relieved we can go back to how things were. This was such a great school before Ms. Flynn’s administration.”
A DOE spokesperson confirmed Flynn will not be returning to P.S. 193 in the Fall. Earlier this year, teacher Stephen Avena, who was involved in the confrontation with Nemorin, was reassigned. Avena had previously been written up three times for “corporal punishment,” according to the DOE. The spokesperson did not say the decision to remove Flynn and Avena was related to Nemorin’s arrest and an investigation into the incident was closed.
However, Brown said it was no coincidence both people involved in Nemorin’s arrest have been removed.
“It’s a cluster of things that led to this point,” she said. “But Vinny’s arrest probably got the ball rolling.Things started coming to light showing the lack of leadership at the school.”
Sheila Phillip, assistant principal at P.S. 251 in Flatlands since 2006, has been selected to replace Flynn as the interim acting principal of P.S. 193. Before she was an assistant principal, Phillip taught at P.S. 251 in Flatbush, according to the DOE.
Brown said she and other parents met with their new principal Wednesday, one day after they were informed by DOE that Flynn would not return. Brown said she was very pleased with the new principal.
“She said she welcomes parents at the school because students can go only so far without parent involvement,” Brown said.
Nemorin, who is not president of the Parents’ Association, also attended the meeting. However, he said his lawyer advised him not to make statements to the press because his case is still making its way through the courts. He was charged with menacing and harassment.
Brown explained rumors began circulating last week that Flynn would be removed when she failed to show up on the last day of school. However, it wasn’t until after July Fourth weekend that DOE informed the Parents’ Association that Flynn would be replaced.
Stacia Gregorio, another parent who was threatened with arrest by a P.S. 193 staffmember for filming a meeting with two city councilmen, said Flynn appeared to withdraw during the end of the school year.
“It was like she was walking on eggshells,” said Gregorio. “We hardly ever heard from her and she didn’t have much a of presence in the school anymore.”