Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

Principal Has All Her Teachers’ Desks Thrown Out

By Elisha McNeil — October 20, 2015 2 min read

Teachers at a New York elementary school are getting their furniture back after they were suddenly ordered to remove all desks and cabinets from their classrooms last week.

Donna Connelly, principal of P.S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil School in Riverdale, had the furniture thrown out because she didn’t want teachers sitting, according to a story first reported in the New York Post.

“It’s the 21st century—you don’t need desks,” Connelly reportedly said.

According to the Post, Connelly had teachers clear out their desks and filing cabinets while classes were in session. Children watched as teachers removed paperwork and medication items from drawers before they pushed the empty furniture into the hallway. Custodians then took the furniture outside of the school and dumped them at the curb.

When asked where teachers should store their supplies, Connelly reportedly snapped, “Figure it out.” So teachers resorted to putting their belongings in bags and boxes in the classroom, according to the Daily Mail. When asked where they should grade papers, Connelly responded, “Use the lunchroom.”

Although it is not entirely clear what prompted Connelly’s no-desks decree, she reportedly has wanted the change for years.

“What I was told personally was that [Ms. Connelly] had wanted to do it for seven years, it was her vision, and she doesn’t want [District 10 Superintendent] Melodie Mashel coming in December and seeing desks anywhere,” one P.S. 24 teacher told The Riverdale Press.

Photographs of the P.S. 24 desks piled up on the street were uploaded to a teacher’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted. The post sparked hundreds of outraged comments criticizing the principal for her behavior, with one teacher commenting: “Thirty years in the system and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

After an uproar from teachers and Post readers, District 10 Superintendent Melodie Mashel ordered the return of the desks and cabinets on Friday—but then the furniture was stored in the basement.

On Monday afternoon, Connelly finally sent a staff-wide email saying, “Please be advised that I will be returning desks to all classrooms,” according to the Post.

A spokesperson for the city Department of Education said the furniture was initially moved out “to facilitate better instruction.”

The idea of removing the front-and-center teacher’s desk from classrooms has become popular in recent years as educators have sought to create nontraditional learning spaces and to circulate more among students. But this is the first we’ve heard of a principal ordering the removal of existing desks—in the middle of a school day, two months into the school year. Not exactly the best way to get buy-in.

Photo by Flickr user Mike Bitzenhofer, under Creative Commons.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read