HARRY HURLEY BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE: ATLANTIC CITY’S BRIGHTON AVENUE & TEXAS AVENUE SCHOOLS - STAFF HAVE PROFOUND CONCERNS - PART 2

Because of more information received since our first column; it’s necessitated the need for this follow-up report.

Since our first report, I have had a discussion with Atlantic City Board of Education President John Devlin.

Devlin was measured and diplomatic in his approach and told me the following:

“From my conversations with the superintendent of public schools (Barry Caldwell), we opened without any issues. Schools were prepared for the call outs,” said Devlin.

I’m a former Board of Education member, I find what Caldwell told Devlin to be fantastical at best; as I have confirmed that more than 150 teachers called-out sick today.

Caldwell’s comment to Devlin that they opened today with no issues is just not credible in my estimation.

The impact of this number of call-outs is significant.

“He (Barry Caldwell) further explained to me that we were in above compliance with state guidelines regarding COVID-19,” said Devlin.

“My hope and desire is that everyone can get to the table and work out a solution,” said Devlin.

Inside Atlantic City education sources have shared with me that these are the steps that the administration have taken. Here is some of the equipment purchased. These documents and photos were supplied by an Atlantic City Public Schools source.

Provided by an Atlantic City Public Schools employee
Provided by an Atlantic City Public Schools employee

Our sources are multiple and they are employees within the Atlantic City public Schools.

While I certainly wish I could name our sources, they all fear that they will become the victim of retaliation should their names become public.

I am hereby honoring their privacy, while providing the community with important public information.

Before I do that, let me share just one example of how much in fear some staff members are presently feeling. This is a very real communication that has been sent to me as follows:

Text I got from a friend:

“Listen. I do not want to come forward due to retaliation and loss of my career. Texas Avenue School has not had running hot water for years. I have worked there for x number of years. No Hot water. This causes children to not want to wash their hands during the winter because it’s too cold. Can you pass that along to Harry Hurley without my name attached. Please. I called-out to make a difference today. For the students and staff. Thank you.”

There’s more.

“Thank you. We are treated like subhumans there. We have to share bathrooms with students on certain floors as well. It’s a disaster.”

There’s still more from this same staff member.

“Awesome. Thank you very much. (Some of) our parents are uneducated and illegal. They never say word or complain due to deportation. You can tell him that as well. Margate, Ventnor Brigantine parents would never allow that to go on. They have no voice. The majority of the school are immigrants that do not know they have a voice,” concluded our whistleblower.

Yet another inside whistleblower sent me the photos and descriptive information regarding the piece of “drying equipment” pictured above.

Titled:

I WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS

This is the explanation that I have received regarding what efforts to date the Atlantic City Public Schools has taken to address numerous staff concerns.

I WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS.

“The “air purifiers” purchased for AC schools are nothing but carpet dryers. This will not keep students or staff safe. Some schools have been told they won’t receive them until December. These items are loud and will not promote a proper learning environment for our students,” said our Whistleblower.

“In addition, it comes with a warning to keep children away from these machines. Brighton Avenue and Texas Avenue do not have the proper electrical power to even utilize them,” concluded our protected source.

Here are direct comments from another Atlantic City educator as follows:

“The "air purifiers" that were sent to Brighton Avenue School (Atlantic City). THIS CONTRAPTION IS A FLOOR DRYER ONLY. Additionally, we were told that the air filters for these floor dryers won't be in until December.”

“Brighton Avenue, grades 3 - 5 DO NOT HAVE THE PLEXIGLASS PARTITIONS that were promised. The only thing that Brighton Avenue has are stickers on the floor labeled "6 feet apart" and black tape on the floor serving to divide the hallway in two.”

“I believe that a newer school was walked through by authorities and given the green and served as the BENCHMARK GRADE for all Atlantic City schools.”

“Texas Avenue has a portion of the ceiling that has fell out,” concluded our whistleblower.

Here is Barry Caldwell’s letter at the time that he announced that this school year would begin with all remote learning until air filtration changes and other fixes could be made in all buildings.

It appears that he’s fallen well short of this promise.

Here’s the Caldwell letter:

Hello this is Barry Caldwell Superintendent of Atlantic City Public Schools

After cautious consideration, administration of a variety of surveys, meetings with local superintendents and planning with the District’s Reopening Committee, I am announcing that the Atlantic City School District plans to begin the 2020-2021 school year with fully remote instruction in order to reduce the risk of exposing our students to conditions that may place them in danger of being in contact with, spreading or contracting the Coronavirus. The district previously planned to reopen using a hybrid model combining remote and in-person instruction. Governor Murphy’s announcement last week that districts could reopen on a fully remote schedule prompted myself and the District’s Reopening Committee to rethink the model for opening our schools. Due to the Coronavirus, we feel that it is necessary to enhance ventilation in our school buildings. We will be installing special filters and adjusting ventilation systems and air-flow throughout the district’s buildings. It is our intention that these changes be completed in time for transition back to the originally proposed hybrid model in November, at the end of the first marking period. At the end of the first marking period, we will review available science and Coronavirus conditions as we plan to shift to the hybrid model. We have made every effort to prepare for a safe opening. The decision to begin the year fully remote has been extremely difficult because we have been eager to bring students back to the classrooms. Understand that the health and safety of our staff and students remain the priority. The District has already ordered the necessary personal protective equipment, including distancing and directional signage, no-touch thermometers, walk-through body temperature scanners, disinfectant supplies, masks, shields, gloves and acrylic barriers for all buildings. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation throughout these challenging times. Be safe and stay healthy.

I am imploring John Devlin and other concerned Board members to pick-up the ball from here abs properly investigate these and other serious allegations.

Simply pretending that nothing has happened is not serious.

It is Barry Caldwell’s job to run the schools. It is the Board of Education’s job to see that they are run well.

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