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July 10, 2013

Casale Letter Conflicts With Testimony


Embattled Springs School principal Eric Casale, in an impassioned letter to the Springs community, assured readers that although he was accused of covering up a cheating scandal at his last job, he notified his school superintendent as soon as he learned about it.

"When I became aware of the allegation in 20O5 I contacted my Superintendent of Schools," he wrote. "Of course I did report it, to my Superintendent of Schools," he reiterated in his letter.

The trouble is, though, he told investigators from the NYC Chancellor's Office of Special Investigation another tale entirely. And the Region 1 superintendent, his direct superior, didn't back up his claim either.

His superintendent testified that higher-ups told her in early 2005 that there was allegations of a cheating scandal at Casale's school, PS-91, in the Bronx, dating back to May 2004. In fact, she was ordered to get a statement from Casale, the principal, about the matter.

Neither Casale nor the superintendent, Dorales Ruales, could get their stories straight while being grilled by OSI investigators. Ruales told investigators she "first became aware of allegations when the NY Post reported on them." The Post article was published on March 7, 2005.

But according to a report issued by OSI in August 2005 "Casale stated in February 2005 Mrs. Ruales informed him of an anonymous letter alleging test cheating."

Insiders at PS-91 believed the probable reason for the conflicting statements was that Ruales possibly knew of the cheating scandal all along. According to the Post, administrators would benefit directly if standardized test scores rose under their watch.

Springs officials, while turning a blind eye to the principal's part indiscretions, are in strict lockdown mode at this point, refusing to return emailed requests for comment. Casale will not answer pointed questions about his involvement in the scandal,

The school district mailed a letter to Springs residents last week. It read, in part, "Mr. Casale noted that he did report the matter to his Superintendent." Springs school officials have obtained a copy of OSI findings. Superintendent Dominic Mucci has refused to explain why he has allowed Casale's letter to remain on the district website despite his erroneous explanation of events that transpired in the Bronx.

The teacher accused of fixing a state mandated math test, Barbara Lee, was eventually stripped of her license to teach. Casale promoted Lee to the position of assistant principal at PS-91 in early 2005, and passed over a more qualified candidate to do so.

"No charges of 'cover-up' or 'destruction of evidence' were alleged or substantiated against me," Casale wrote.

His interpretation of the results of the probe vary markedly from what the chief investigator wrote about Casale: "It seems clear he was aware of the cheating allegation, attempted to cover it up, and destroyed evidence," Ness Matos wrote. In fact, Matos noted that Casale left the employ of the city before formal proceedings that would have possibly stripped him of his license could commence.

The NYS State Department of Education has not answered queries for comment about Casale's status or if an investigation is pending.

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