Parents of a Coney Island school call out admin for poor leadership

P.S. 90 school in Coney Island.
P.S. 90 in Coney Island.
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After multiple cases of bullying and concerns of negligent administration, a group of fed up Coney Island parents call on local pols to help them address their concerns of poor leadership at P.S. 90 elementary school, namely Greta Hawkins, the school’s principal.

Parents brought their complaints to Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton and Council Member Justin Brannan who will speak to DOE leaders, according to a spokesperson from the state legislator’s office.

“Our office has had two meetings with many of the concerned parents of P.S. 90 students, who have outlined multiple highly unsettling issues,” the representative said. “We have a meeting scheduled with DOE leadership to address the serious concerns brought to our attention by these families.”

According to Anayeli Esquivel, one mom who says the bullying in the school has gotten so bad she has become desperate for a change, her son Bryan was hurt in a bullying accident on November 9, 2022 when an older student allegedly crushed his fingers in the door.

“Since then I feel desperate, sad and furious at the same time to see that my children are not safe in that school,” she told Brooklyn Paper. 

Esquivel's son Bryan was injured while at school in an alleged bullying incident.
Esquivel’s son Bryan was injured while at school in an alleged bullying incident.Photo courtesy of Anayeli Esquivel

The school told Esquivel it was simply an accident– but she has her doubts which have been exacerbated by a lack of communication.

“The principle protects the children who do bullying by saying that it is just an accident,” Esquivel said. “It’s so maddening not to have any help, even no help from the school district either.”

Council Member Ari Kagan’s office was also made aware of the situation through an anonymous letter containing concerns about Principal Hawkins. 

According to Kagan’s spokesperson, it is usually hard to investigate an anonymous complaint but their office contacted DOE — who have now informed District 21 Superintendent DiMola of the allegation. 

They are currently waiting for the result of their investigation. 

Sofia Reyes, another parent of two P.S. 90 students, says school administration did not notify her when her son was hurt in class.

According to Reyes, her son Jared was allegedly hurt in gym class. When a family member picked him up from school, his eyes was swollen shut. Reyes says neither the teachers, nurses or principal explained what happened.

“Then when my mom got there in school they just gave him to my mom like nothing happened. Like with an ice pack on his eye [but] they didn’t explain what happened or anything,” she said. “The principal didn’t bother to call, the teacher didn’t message me or anything.”

Jared Reyes was injured during gym class but his mom says the school never explained what happened.
Jared Reyes was injured during gym class but his mom says the school never explained what happened.Photo courtesy of Sofia Reyes

Denise Valle says her 9-year-old son has been without a mandated paraprofessional for months despite his Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) stating he should have one. 

Valle says her son is supposed to have a one-to-one para, meaning his own aid, however the school allegedly  took his para away and gave them to another student.

“It’s not right that my son is supposed to have a one-to-one [para] and [it] was taken to give to another student,” Valle said.

The mom says the school then placed her son with a group para without notifying her. When she attempted to reach out to school administration, Valle says she was shot down or ignored.

According to Valle, parents do not have an issue at the school un they try to reach out to Principal Hawkins with a comment or concern.

“The minute that a parent speaks up on things that they don’t like she retaliates against their kids,” she told Brooklyn Paper.  

The educator has been involved in a string of controversial incidents in the past — including a restrictive potty rule, previous reprimands, axing a patriotic song from a school event and tampering with parent surveys.

According to a DOE spokesperson, the Office of Special Investigations case against Hawkins was unsubstantiated. 

“A safe and supportive environment for every member of our school communities is a cornerstone of success, and a top priority at New York City Public Schools. The district superintendent is engaging with families, and providing support to staff while we continue to foster learning and growth for students,” the spokesperson told Brooklyn Paper.

Luz Lozada, a former parent at P.S. 90, first opposed Hawkin’s leadership in 2010. She says it’s disappointing to hear issues still happening at the institution. 

“She is just getting worse and worse because of how long she’s been doing it. Nobody is actually making her deal with consequences but she needs to be removed,” Lozada told Brooklyn Paper. “The DOE needs to step up and be serious about this because this is going on for way too long and these kids are traumatized.”

Senator Scarcella-Spanton and will meet with DOE leadership on Thursday, May 4. 

Council Member Brannan complied a list of complaints from concerned parents and forwarded those complaints to the DOE, according to a staff member with the pol’s office. 

“Many P.S. 90 parents and community leaders have shared their concerns with Councilman Brannan. It is unclear why current local leadership hasn’t done anything to address this situation but this is not something our office will ignore,” said Chris McCreight, Brannan’s chief of staff. “Parents are tired of excuses. They want answers and action and that’s what they deserve.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a response from Council Member Justin Brannan’s office.