A group of P.S. 193 parents — who say they’ve been getting the runaround from officials about a father’s controversial arrest — are not backing down from calls to have their principal removed because of the incident.
Nearly a dozen parents have been holding almost daily rallies outside the school since Vinny Nemorin, the Parents’ Association treasurer, was arrested last month for confronting a teacher about his 8-year-old son soiling himself after not being allowed to use the bathroom. Parents want to know whether the school’s Principal Tami Flynn violated any Department of Education (DOE) policies by allowing the arrest.
Parents’ Association President Jennifer Brown said parents have met with the district superintendent and emailed Chancellor Carmen Fariña about the incident, but answers have been unsatisfactory.
“We want to know: What is the protocol for contacting police? And we’re not getting any answers,” said Brown. “At this point, we’re prepared to move from the school building to the Chancellor’s building or the Mayor’s office. We feel like bringing the fight to them will force them to stop ignoring our cause.”
The arrest has inflamed long-simmering tensions with the principal, and spurred calls by some to have Flynn removed. Many parents watched cell-phone video of Nemorin’s arrest broadcast by local news stations, which showed him being handcuffed and taken to a police van. While stepping into the van, Nemorin slipped, hit his head, and could be heard moaning on the pavement outside the school.
The Department of Education said they are still investigating the incident. Several elected officials have also taken an interest in the issue.
Nemorin, who joined other parents calling for Flynn’s removal at a rally Friday, said this isn’t the first time his son soiled himself at school and he has repeatedly raised the issue with administrators. He also said quarrels with the principal go back to when she first arrived at P.S. 193 and tried to remove the French program.
“In my child’s kindergarten year, we actually performed Beauty and the Beast, and recited the entire play in French. It was very impressive,” he explained. “However, when my son was in first grade, we noticed that the French program had been eliminated completely. It was a unilateral decision on [Flynn’s] part, She did not source any information from parents.”
Nemorin said he rallied other parents to get the French program restored, but Flynn and the Parents’ Association continued to clash over funding for extra-curricular activities. Many of those who challenged her decisions felt retaliated against or shut out from further discussions, he said.
The attitude of P.S. 193’s educators towards parents’ concerns was on display earlier this month, when a staff member at the school threatened to have a mother arrested for videotaping a meeting with city councilmen Jumaane Williams and Chaim Deutsch.
Nemorin said he was given no warning about his arrest. Hours after the confrontation with the teacher, he said police called him back to the school because of an “emergency concerning [his] child.” He also explained the arrest happened on his son’s birthday.
In the most recent school quality snapshot, P.S. 193 scored lowest in Effective School Leadership. Only 78 precent of parents reported the “principal works to create a sense of community in the school.” (Compared to 91 percent city-wide.) Meanwhile, 69 percent of teachers said the “principal communicates a clear vision for this school,” while the city average was 88 percent.
Georgina Doody, whose children and grandchildren have attended P.S. 193, and has been involved with Parents’ Association since 1977, said she’s never seen the atmosphere so toxic. She supports calls to have Flynn removed.
“She’s creating more hostility in the school. I go back three different principals. Everybody had a calming nature on the children. Now, the children are afraid of everything,” she said. “My grandson was on the third floor [when Nemorin was arrested]. He saw it all.”
Parent Erin Walker has written to the superintendent and Chancellor Carmen Fariña regarding Flynn’s leadership and supports calls to have Flynn taken out of the school.
“There’s just sort of an acrimony against parents, and this vitriol. And it’s totally inappropriate and disrespectful,” she said. “And this culture is being defended by the DOE by not addressing the situation, by stonewalling people by saying there’s an investigation.”