A public school principal accused of performing religious rituals with candles, incense and chicken blood in an attempt to cleanse her high school of negative energy has been reassigned and will be fired, the Department of Education said Tuesday.
Maritza Tamayo, principal of the Unity Center for Urban Technologies, paid a woman named Gilda Fonte to lead several Santeria rituals at the Manhattan school during midwinter break in 2006, when students were not there, according to Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for city schools. Tamayo coerced staff members to participate in and help pay for the cost of the ceremonies, investigators said.
An interesting and less played up sub-story of the scandal is the reason why Tamayo did what she did.
A former assistant principal, Melody Crooks-Simpson, said there was a running joke at the school that sage should be used to cleanse the building because many of the students were ill-behaved. But it seems Tamayo took it seriously, Crooks-Simpson told investigators, and had Fonte lead a ceremony at which she sprinkled chicken blood on the building.
This is about discipline! This is just another Principal trying to figure out how to deal with unruly students.
While I in no way support staff coercion (who does?), it is nice to see a more holistic alternative to the regular, every-day pushing, shoving and whistle-blowing that we NYC public school students are used to.