Controversial Former P.S.193 Principal Flynn Will Replace Retiring Cunningham Principal Schaeffer


MIDWOOD – It was announced at the school yesterday, and a letter from the principal was posted on the school’s website today announcing retirement of longtime Principal Susan Schaeffer.

Principal Schaeffer in an undated photo from IS234.

“My time at this wonderful school have been the best years of my professional life. My experiences here have shaped my understanding of relationships through the connections between educators and families,” Principal Schaeffer wrote in her farewell letter.

“After 35 years of service for the Department of Education, it is time for me to move on. So after a tremendous amount of reflection, despite my ambivalence, I have decided that it is time for me to retire as Principal of W.A. Cunningham Intermediate School. My retirement will be effective on February 26, 2018.”

It was also announced yesterday at the school, that Ms. Tami Flynn will be succeeding her as Interim Acting Principal.

Ms. Flynn was previously removed as principal following an investigation at P.S. 193, which is located nearby and where she was principal between 2014 and 2016. Tensions at P.S. 193 boiled over in February of 2016, when Principal Flynn had a parent arrested for speaking up about his child not being allowed to use the bathroom.

Treasurer of the PS193 Parents organization, Mr Nemorin, was arrested for speaking up about his child. Photo: PS 193 Parents’ Association / Facebook

Parents protested, and by end of March of 2016, DOE had removed a teacher involved in the incident, and by the end of the school year, the principal was removed as well.

Back then we reported that “In the most recent school quality snapshot, P.S. 193 scored lowest in Effective School Leadership. An online petition calling for Flynn’s removal has also received 653 signatures. The school’s enrollment was 882 students during the last school year.” Trust in the school community eroded, instruction suffered, as reflected in the reports, enrollment fell to 866.

Some parents we spoke to who had children at P.S. 193 under Flynn, and who currently attend Cunningham middle school are in complete disbelief about how this could be happening. “That this can happen is beyond frustrating,” one parent told us, asking for anonymity to protect their child. “I can’t believe she is given a bigger school to lead.” Others alleged that Ms. Flynn had powerful allies in the Department and that, despite everything, they were not surprised.

As the news spread among parents in the District, a parent of a 5th grader at P.S. 217, who ranked Cunningham high on the list of preferred schools, was rattled – “I don’t know what to make of this. This is not news you want to get as we await placement results.”

Cunningham is a popular middle school that draws children in grades 6-8 from the District. It enrolls just under 2,000 students, offers a Center For the Intellectually Gifted program, and is a feeder school for James Madison, Midwood and Brooklyn Tech High Schools, according to the middle school guidebook the city publishes annually (p35).

We reached out to the Department of Education this morning for comment. We asked what they would like to tell parents who feel betrayed by the system that removed a principal, following a major controversy, from their kids’ elementary school only to see them installed as the principal at their kids’ middle school.  We also asked what Ms. Flynn has been doing since 2016. We’ll update when we hear back.

Subscriptions from readers fund our reporting. Thank you for supporting independent local journalism. Subscribe!

Comment policy


  1. A horrible choice for a great school. It would be a great story if you could find out who her allies are in high places and then expose them for their nepotism or just horribly misplaced support.
    Her past actions do Not even qualify her for this interim spot. SHame on you DOE.

  2. wow to put her in the same situation: at successful school she then ruins seems like a pattern you wouldn’t want to repeat. She also as never a principal before PS 193 so why give her Cunningham

  3. This is outrageous. I’m doing everything I can to stop this. Do they think we parents are just ignorant sheep?!?

  4. At least get all the facts. Once again a media outlet trying to put out a story that is completely bias. Yes after they switched principal it was a transition period. The parent who are complaining had the same principal for years. To have an expectation everything would stay the same is complete and under stupidity. As for the parents who started this, they aren’t the most honest and believable people. Maybe you should also include that Ms. Flynn is responsible for getting the school the money for most of their new technology under her tenure the school got chrome books, z spaces, 3 carts of MacBooks, a full set of iPads, brand new smart boards. It’s easy to see the bad-especially when you get wrapped up in the “emotions” and not the facts. Since removing the Flynn 193 has gone down the tubes. At dismissal look at the teachers the ones who spend all day teaching these kids, all night messaging parents online and all weekend writing lesson plans. They are exhausted and miserable since the change-but that doesn’t seem to be the true story you want to tell. Additionally, the DOE doesn’t just reinstate someone they have to go through many steps and Ms.Flynn has proved that she still should be principal. She’s taught at two other school for years-and there haven’t been any issues, so maybe it’s time to think it isn’t her.

  5. Anonymous – frankly, if the school has MacBooks, and a kid is forced to soil himself in class… who cares about the MacBooks? They’re just window dressing.

  6. Uh … Anonymous, you either are Flynn or you are related to her. She was a disaster for 193 and an embarrassment to the NY school system. The fact that she can remain employed, let alone be made principal of another school — even for a single day — does not reflect well on anyone. As the parent of a Cunningham 6th grader, I am honestly at a loss about what to do at this point. I have to believe this is temporary, but what if it isn’t?

  7. As a parent, I agree with you Ann-getting money for a school means nothing when you don’t take care of the student welfare. If it was my kid under her supervision. I would be worried and angry. But I have faith it will be on a trial basis and if what anon said is true about not having issues with other schools I say give it a chance-let’s be honest she’s going to watched like a hawk and first slip up she’s out.

  8. The teacher who was involved in the incident has been at Cunningham since September so I think that is also insane that they are back together again.

  9. There is a very strong pattern here. PS 193 had many of their key programs gutted by a new principal, as is true in other schools in the district. Follow the chain of command one step higher and look at the superintendent. A responsible decision maker would never allow for the top schools in the district to lose the programs that make each school special — from the arts, to performance, to language enrichment. We need to demand that Juliet Bove, superintendent of District 22, work with the community, not against us, in building and maintaining the few excellent schools in the district, not ruin them. What is she thinking????

  10. I’m not a parent of a child that attends this school, nor did I go to this school, know anyone affiliated with the school, etc. I am just a causal Brooklynite reading the news.

    When I came across this story, I had felt an extreme bias emitting from the article supporting the removal of Ms. Flynn. After doing some research about the situation, and knowing how children and parents defending them can be, I can see how this story has been skewed in a way to overdramaticize what really happened. I have a hard time believing that a parent was arrested for simply stepping foot on the premises of his child’s school. For this man to be arrested, there must have been some aggressive actions, or choice words spoken/omitted, or something taboo about the way that he approached the situation. The police would never co-operate to arrest the child of a parent, otherwise.

    Also, I know how children, especially in Elementary and Middle school, are hungry for attention and do the worst things at the worst times, in the worst places. I am not saying the child didn’t have to go to the bathroom, or didn’t soil his pants on purpose… What I am saying is that the teacher of principal has to use their bes judgement to determine the best solution for the problem. When you have a class of 30 kids, and half of them start asking to go to the bathroom at the same time, annoying the other children and the rest of the class, it can become very easy to just outright deny children to not go to the bathroom at all. That’s how it was when I went to school….if you fool around, you ruin it for everyone else. A teacher in 2018 does not have the time or patience to deal with 30 children, on an individual basis, trying to give her a hard time. There are students in the class that actually want to learn, and not deal with annoying classmates ruining the lesson.

  11. Anonymous, the new technologies were students and Mr. Cimino achievement. P.S. 193 The Gil Hodges School in Brooklyn, NY won the 2013 Team Up For Technology makeover!
    Children health and happiness are more important than money and MacBook. My child was a student at PS 193 from K to 5th Grade (graduated in 2015) and was a witness of child abuse at school and Ms. Flynn didn’t do nothing to protect children. She just cover herself with more security and used school money for that. She cut many programs and many great teaches (CIG) left because of Ms. Flynn.

  12. I go to the school and I’m a senior and I’m so mad ma.shaefer was so sweet and nice and now we get her .

  13. Andrew B. – 653 signatures were collected. This was not about just one incident. Ms Flynn should not be in charge of any school, especially one that’s in the same district as the school that she was kicked out of.

  14. As a parent of a 6th grade student that attends Cunningham I am very concerned about this Flynn lady. It also worries me because the children are aware of her past mishaps and are very concerned. I believe this is poor descision making by the DOE and we the parents have to come together to voice our concerns. I for one am waiting for the 1st face to face with her. The first PTA that is held to introduce her should be the one to let her know we are on to her and her stay will not be welcomed if she comes to Cunningham with her nonsense. If we thw parents cannot voice our concerns to our principal, how can we work together to give our kids a brighter future .

  15. Anything is an improvement. Schaeffer was driving the school into the ground with her dated ideas, lack of understsndning her school population, and poor management. Cunningham was long overdue for a change. The image projected by the former principal is not the reality.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here