DOE staffers threatened Dominican teachers with deportation

Bilingual educators brought from the Dominican Republic to work for the city Department of Education were ordered by a middle school teacher to shut up about the steep cost of the rooms they were forced to rent — or be exiled from the program, they told The Post.

The Dominican recruits said Rosse Mary Savery, a teacher at MS 80 in the Bronx under Principal Emmanuel Polanco, warned them not to tell a soul about having to fork over a monthly $1,350 to $1,450 each for a single room in apartments where they share a kitchen and bathroom with colleagues.

“She told us that we cannot talk about the rent to anybody. That was the main thing that she said: ‘Don’t talk to anybody. Don’t tell anybody how much you’re paying,’” a teacher quoted Savery as saying.

Currently, 19 Dominican teachers are shacked up in the Bronx at three rooming houses run by the Association of Dominican American Supervisors and Administrators — a fraternal group of DOE principals and other employees.

As The Post has reported, ADASA housed 11 Dominican teachers in a two-family home it leased on Baychester Avenue, and three in a Marion Avenue co-op listed in city records as owned by Polanco’s mother, Juana Polanco-Abreu.

Polanco
Emmanuel Polanco and his wife take in between $1,350 and $1,400 from each of the tenants every month.
Richard Harbus

However, Polanco-Abreu died several years ago, according to a source who attended her funeral. City officials could not explain why she is still named as the property owner. 

Polanco and his wife, Sterling Báez, 32, a DOE elementary school teacher in the Bronx, rake in $1,350 to $1,400 a month from each of the Marion Avenue tenants. 

Another five teachers — and the husband of one — are housed in half of a duplex on Pilgrim Avenue in the Bronx. 

Except for the married couple who share a room, each person pays $1,350 to $1,450 a month for individual rooms, while sharing a kitchen and bathroom. They use Zelle, a banking app, to pay their rent to ADASA treasurer and DOE administrator Daniel Calcaño, sources said. 

They are expected to share a kitchen and a bathroom.
Teachers are forced to pay through Zelle to stay in the residence.
J.C. Rice

After the teachers’ pleas for receipts of their rent payments went unanswered, they sent an email asking Calcaño, Polanco and Savery for a meeting to discuss their concerns about costs.

In response, Savery called the request “a threat” that could jeopardize their US visas and their chances of bringing families to join them in New York, a teacher recalled.

“If you don’t want to get in trouble with your family coming here, you have to write back in that email and say you wouldn’t be part of the meeting,” Savery said, according to a teacher.

Amid a widening scandal over the Dominican teacher program, the DOE removed Polanco, first vice president of ADASA, from MS 80 this month. Last week, three members of ADASA’s executive board — Polanco, Calcaño and Jay Fernandez — abruptly booted Socorro Diaz, the organization’s president. 

Baez is an elementary school teacher in the Bronx.
Sterling Baez, Polanco’s wife, came under fire for the high rent.
Sterling Baez/Facebook

In a letter to ADASA members obtained by The Post, Diaz said “I have invested a lot in this organization and I loved the original mission statement established by the organization.”

Sources say Diaz’s removal was an act of retaliation because Diaz helped connect two teachers with authorities after they complained to her in early October about being forced to live in ADASA housing and pay steep rent.

“She did the right thing,” a DOE insider said of Diaz’s actions. Diaz declined to comment. 

In late October, one teacher who told Savery she was seeking less costly living arrangements soon received a letter from Marianne Mason, executive director of the Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education — a New York-based group that sponsors teachers’ visas. The letter stated that her visa had been canceled and she had two days to leave the US, sources said.  

The teacher consulted lawyers who confirmed that Cordell Hull didn’t have the authority to terminate her visa. But she temporarily lost her job at a Bronx school after Savery spoke to the principal. 

“The principal, without investigating, talked to her and said ‘You have to leave the school because Savery told me having you here is illegal,’” a friend of the teacher said. 

Rosse Mary Savery works under Polanco at MS 80.
Rosse Mary Savery was the one to threaten the Dominican teachers, the recruits said.
MS80Hawks/Twitter

As authorities began investigating allegations that ADASA intimidated the newcomers and possibly profited off the rentals, the same teacher received another letter from Cordell Hull this month telling her, without explanation, she could return to her job. 

Savery — one of the Dominican teachers’ main points of contact — “disappeared” after the investigation started, they said. 

Savery didn’t answer The Post’s request for comment. Polanco, Fernandez and Calcaño also did not respond to messages.  

Mason has blamed teachers’ complaints on “culture shock,” and “misunderstanding,” telling The Post, “They’re lying.”  

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