Bilingual teachers brought in from the Dominican Republic to work for the city’s education department were ordered by a middle school teacher to shut up about the exorbitant cost of the rooms they were forced to rent — or be banished from the programme, they told The Post.
Dominican recruits said Rose Marie Savery, an MS 80 teacher in the Bronx under principal Emmanuel Polanco, warned them not to tell the spirit about having to pay upwards of $1,350 to $1,450 per month for one room in apartments where they share a kitchen and bathroom with colleagues.
She told us we couldn’t talk about the rent to anyone. That was the main thing she said: ‘Don’t talk to anyone. A teacher quoted Savery as saying, “Don’t tell anyone how much you pay.”
Currently, there are 19 Dominican teachers enrolled in the Bronx in three residential homes operated by the Dominican American Supervisors and Administrators Association—a fraternal group of DOE principals and other employees.
As The Post reported, ADASA was featuring 11 Dominican teachers In a two-family home rented on Baychester Street, three in a Marion Avenue co-op listed in city records as belonging to Polanco’s mother, Juana Polanco-Abreu.
However, Polanco Abreu passed away several years ago, according to a source who attended her funeral. City officials were unable to explain why she was still named as the landlord.
polanco and his wife, Sterling Bayes32, an elementary school teacher at DOE in the Bronx, makes between $1,350 and $1,400 a month from each Marion Avenue tenant.
Five other teachers – and one husband – live in a half-duplex on Pilgrim Street in the Bronx.
With the exception of a married couple sharing a room, each person pays between $1,350 and $1,450 per month for single rooms, while sharing a kitchen and bathroom. The sources said they are using Zelle, a banking app, to pay rent to ADASA treasurer and DOE director Daniel Calcagno.
After the teachers’ pleas for rent payment receipts went unanswered, they emailed asking Calcano, Polanco, and Savery for a meeting to discuss their concerns about costs.
In response, Savery called the request a “threat” that would jeopardize their US visas and their chances of bringing families to join them in New York, one educator recalled.
“If you don’t want to get in trouble with your family coming here, you should write back in that email and say you won’t be part of the meeting,” Savery said, according to one of the teachers.
Amid a widening scandal over the Dominican teacher’s program, the Education Department removed Polanco, the senior vice president of ADASA, from MS 80 this month. Last week, three members of ADASA’s executive board — Polanco, Calcano and Jay Fernandez — suddenly booted Socorro Diaz, the organization’s president.
In a letter to ADASA members obtained by The Post, Diaz said “I’m very invested in this organization and I love the organization’s original mission statement.”
Sources say Diaz’s firing was an act of revenge because Diaz helped link two teachers to the authorities after they complained to her in early October about being forced to live in Adasa’s lodgings and pay exorbitant rent.
“She did the right thing,” a DOE insider said of Diaz’s actions. Diaz declined to comment.
In late October, one of the teachers who told Savery she was seeking less expensive living arrangements received a letter from Marian Mason, executive director of the Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education — a New York-based group that sponsors visas for teachers. The sources said in the letter that her visa was canceled and she had two days to leave the United States.
The teacher consulted lawyers, who confirmed that Cordell Hull had no authority to terminate her visa. But she temporarily lost her job at a school in the Bronx after Savery spoke to the principal.
A friend of the school said, “The principal spoke to her, without investigation, and said ‘You have to leave the school because Savery told me it’s illegal for you to be here’.”
As authorities began investigating allegations that ADASA intimidated newcomers and may have profited from the rents, the same teacher received another letter from Cordell Hull this month telling her, without explanation, that she could return to her job.
They said Savery – one of the main points of contact for teachers in the Dominican Republic – “disappeared” after the investigation began.
Savery did not respond to The Post’s request for comment. Polanco, Fernandez and Calcaño also did not respond to the messages.
Mason blamed the teachers’ complaints on “culture shock” and “a misunderstanding,” telling the newspaper, “They lie.”