Seventeen months ago, Geoffrey Nutter asked the Department of Education to reverse unsatisfactory ratings he had been given by embattled Bronx Science High School principal Valerie Reidy. He’s still waiting for an answer.
Mr. Nutter’s resume reads like the biography of a well-known writer.
The author of three poetry books, Mr. Nutter has won multiple awards for his work, including the University of Iowa’s 1993 Academy of American Poets Prize, presented by then-Poet Laureate Mark Strand. He has been published in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, and currently works as an adjunct poetry professor at New York University. He will begin teaching a class at Columbia University this spring. Before he begins, he expects to submit his fourth book to his publisher and travel to France, where he will read from one of his collections at the International School of Paris.
Yet the 43-year-old could not seem to satisfy administrators at the Bronx High School of Science, where he taught English from 2008 to 2009 and received three unsatisfactory evaluations.
He is one of at least seven Bronx Science teachers who told The Press they left the school because of what they see as Principal Valerie Reidy’s tactics of retribution, unfair and unannounced evaluations and abusive criticisms.
First, a group of teachers from the math department who in May 2008 filed a complaint with the Department of Education alleging that Assistant Principal Rosemary Jahoda harassed them. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein rejected fact finder Carol Wittenberg’s conclusion that Ms. Jahoda harassed certain teachers. Then, eight of the school’s 20 social studies teachers chose not to return this year.
Mr. Nutter’s situation is not unique. And his careful notes, records and appeal to the Department of Education to reverse his unsatisfactory ratings illuminate the complaints of many others.