Rochester, N.Y. – A Rochester City School District administrator denied tenure wants his job back.
Bryant Cromartie had worked in the district since 1997, starting as a social studies teacher. He became an administrator in 2001, but the tenure clock starts over with each new job title. After several years as Program Administrator at East High School overseeing 7th and 8th graders, Cromartie was not awarded tenure and terminated last week.
“It’s not just a job to me. It’s my life’s calling,” he said.
Cromartie said the district blamed low test scores. He questioned why other school administrators were not denied tenure.
“If they’re going to deny me tenure because of low test scores, they have to go to the whole school district,” he said.
Cromartie has the support of some of his former colleagues.
“We want to get him back. He’s a great role model for our students. He’s a wonderful mentor for a lot of them,” said Brett Crandall, a guidance counselor.
“He is an amazing administrator,” said guidance counselor Stephanie Bliss.
“Different students have come up to me saying they don’t want to come to school now that he’s not here,” said Marie Pollot. “’I don’t have a father at home and he is my father here.’ Why would you ever not give tenure to somebody like that? I’m shocked.”
Cromartie said the district also cited an email he sent to staff last year. The email expressed outrage at the way Rochester police handled the disappearance of student Larie Butler. Cromartie called for protests at Chief Jim Sheppard’s house. Cromartie said he regrets some of the things in the email and was already reprimanded. He said he has an otherwise clean disciplinary record.
Timothy Wagner, an official with ASAR, the union representing administrators, said Cromartie doesn’t have much recourse. State law says superintendents make tenure decisions. Even if a staff member has an exemplary record, the law allows him to be denied tenure.
Wagner said Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has denied tenure or extended probationary periods more often than his predecessor.
“I have great evaluations. The law states it’s up to the superintendent,” said Cromartie. “One man or one person should not jeopardize a whole career.”
Cromartie’s dismissal has to be approved by the school board. President Malik Evans said he would be asking questions about the termination in an executive session.
A district spokesman said the district does not comment on personnel matters.