Monday, July 19, 2010

DOE Family Advocate Drops ‘N’ Bomb by Sasha Austrie - Queens Tribune

Read original and listen to audio clip...

This is a composite recording of a meeting of the PS 134 PTA Executive Board as they met with District 29 Family Advocate Ron Barfield to discuss changing over to a PA and adopting bylaws.

In the recording, they are reviewing a template from the Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy, and setting up the new PA’s bylaws with Barfield’s assistance.

:05 – When discussing when to hold PA executive board meetings, Barfield suggests days that would discourage parental involvement:
“Do it Fridays, cause niggers don’t like to come out on Fridays... That’s the truth, cause I ain’t coming out to nothing.”

In the second section, which starts at :20, the Executive Board is discussing what standing committees (pronounced communities on the recording) should be established. Standing committee chairs would have a vote on the Executive Board.

:53 – Barfield suggests not having standing committees in order to reduce the number of voting members.

“No community liaison. No standing committees... Just vote em in. Keep the niggers out… All them niggers are going to be voting and getting y’all to debate and dividing up the board. “

In the third section, which starts at 1:11, the board is voting to adopt the by-laws, which is supposed to be done by the full membership, and is not.

1:44 – Barfield suggests making t harder for parents to be involved:
“Please make sure that I get a copy, you keep a copy and let everybody else beg you for a copy.”

2:06 – After the vote, on his way out, Barfield give a word of encouragement to the people present:
“Keep niggers out the house.

By The Department of Education has initiated an investigation into the Family District Advocate of District 29 after a recording of him using the “N Word” and other derogatory statements at a PA organizational meeting surfaced.

Ron Barfield was recorded on May 27 at a parent association executive board meeting at PS 134 in Hollis, using the word “nigger” on a number of occasions. The meeting was held to craft bylaws per Chancellor Joel Klein’s regulations.

Barfield has held his post since October 2007 and he is one of 32 family district advocates throughout the City. A family district advocate’s responsibility is to assist parents if they still have questions after consulting with their parent coordinators or principals.

While the executive board was discussing the implementation of standing committees, Barfield dismissed the concept as a divisive measure.

“We don’t want no community liaison, no ‘standing’ voting on your board; keep the niggers out,” the recording states. “All those niggers ain’t going to be voting and y’all going to debate and divide up the board.”

Felicia Galy, former vice president of the PA and Frances Vicioso, former recording secretary, confirm that the voice on the tape is Barfield.

“I actually was shocked when he said it,” said Galy. “He is a black man in a high position. I was just shocked.”

Vicioso, who had not attended the meeting, said she was “dumbfounded” when she heard the recording.

Barfield makes numerous references to “niggers” during the almost hour long recording.

At one point, the board is discussing when to host executive and general membership meetings. One board member said to continue the meetings on Wednesday, but Barfield suggests Friday.

“Hold it on Thursday or Friday,” Barfield said. “Hold it on Fridays because niggers don’t like to come out on Fridays. That’s the truth, cause I ain’t coming out to nothing.”

After Barfield’s statement, a chuckle rises from some in the room.

Matthew Mittenthal, a DOE spokesman, said Barfield’s alleged statements could land him on probation, transferred or demoted. He said the most extreme would be termination.

“Hurtful, offensive language has no place in our schools,” Mittenthal said. “We are referring these allegations to the Special Commissioner of Investigation.”

Galy said she has no faith in the DOE’s investigation.

“They basically cover for each other,” she said. Galy said her previous complaints to the DOE about the PA’s dysfunction had fallen on deaf ears.

“It’s a buddy system,” she said. “They cover for each other.”

Though Galy has a total lack of faith, she is hopeful that Barfield is disciplined, but not fired.

“What would be hopeful is that we don’t have these types of people in our schools,” she said.

In the recording, after the overhaul of the bylaws, the executive board unanimously votes to adopt the new amended version, without the vote of the general membership. According to the chancellor’s regulations “PAs must adopt a set of bylaws by a vote of the parent members.”

“Please make sure that I get a copy, you keep a copy and let everybody else beg you for a copy,” Barfield said.

Chancellor’s regulation requires the bylaws to be available at every meeting and to members upon reasonable request.

Just after the school bell rings signifying the end of a period, Barfield closes the meeting with “Keep the niggers out.”