BOARD OUT TO LUNCH: empowerment zone principal under investigation
BOARD OUT TO LUNCH
IGNORE$ OWN PROBE
By DAVID ANDREATTA Education Reporter
July 14, 2006 -- A Queens middle-school principal under investigation for allegedly helping himself to the school-lunch fund was chosen yesterday to lead the school in the city's expanded Empowerment Zone - and to receive an extra $100,000 in unrestricted funds.
The city Department of Education's selection of Shango Blake of IS 109 in Queens Village defies its stated policy of not accepting into the zone any principal being probed.
Coincidentally, that policy was reiterated yesterday by Eric Nadelstern, the zone's chief executive officer, at a meeting of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council.
"The only schools that weren't accepted were those where the principal was under investigation," Nadelstern said of the 331 schools tabbed from the 350 that had applied.
The Blake investigation made Post headlines in February. A spokeswoman for Richard Condon, commissioner of special investigations for the city's schools, confirmed yesterday that it was still active.
Despite that, IS 109, also known as Jean Nuzzi Intermediate, is on the list of new empowerment schools released this month. The probe began in January after the Office of School Food and Nutrition Services accused Blake of misappropriating varying amounts.
Zone principals get greater authority over their schools' budgets, about $100,000 in newly unrestricted funds and $150,000 in new discretionary funds in exchange for meeting specific goals.
Blake was recognized in 2003 by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein for improving school safety by implementing a dress code and a volunteer program that had parents patrolling the school's hallways.
Blake did not return a call to the school for comment and could not be reached at home.
He joined IS 109 in 2003 after a three-year stint as assistant principal of Gorton HS in Yonkers , where the Board of Education denied him tenure over protests from the superintendent, parents and students.
Supporters call him a hard-working father figure who has guided struggling students onto the path to college. But he's clashed with some IS 109 staff and parents, who have officially complained of intimidation and corporal punishment. No such charge has been substantiated.
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