NORWALK, Conn. – The decision to demote a P-Tech administrator has been upheld by Deputy Superintendent of Excellence, Equity, and Inclusion Thomas McBryde Jr.
Renita Crawford waited three weeks to receive the decision, sources say. It was delivered last week, according to Norwalk Public Schools Chief of Staff and Communications Brenda Wilcox Williams.
In mid-March, with little warning, Crawford was suddenly transferred from P-Tech, where she served as Curriculum and Instruction Site Director (CISD), to Brien McMahon High School, where she now teaches history. Two sources described Crawford as outspoken, likening her departure to having been “railroaded,” the circumstances surrounding it to a coverup.
Brenda Penn-Williams, Crawford’s godmother, accused Norwalk Public Schools of doing “shady things.”
Speaking as a private citizen and not as President of the Norwalk Branch of the NAACP, Penn-Williams has since said Crawford received positive personnel reviews prior to then-P-Tech Principal Karen Amaker going on family leave. Penn-Williams said that upon returning, Amaker was told to backdate negative evaluations on Crawford, and was “written up” for refusing to comply.
Another source, speaking on condition of anonymity, made identical allegations.
NPS has said it can’t discuss personnel matters. Crawford has not returned emails.
Amaker subsequently announced she’d be retiring in June and has declined to comment, as she is “not at liberty to comment on personnel matters.” In her letter to the P-Tech community, she said retiring was the “best decision for my family and me at this time.”
Crawford had been P-Tech CISD for 2.5 years and within the month Amaker was out she was alleged to have “done some egregious acts that they can’t even prove,” Penn-Williams said. Crawford was called to Human Relations on a Thursday and demoted the following Monday, both sources said.
Crawford was informed of five ways in which she wasn’t doing her job well, while Amaker was unavailable to contradict that account, both sources said.
She was told to provide evidence that she was doing her job well and she did, but the school district provided none to support the accusations, they said.
“Renita has an overwhelming case of what they the lies that they’ve told,” Penn-Williams said, adding that she is speaking as Crawford’s mother, a role she pledged to fill upon Crawford’s mother’s death in 2017. She asked, “If Renita was that bad, why does she still have a job? … If she had done egregious acts, why did they put her back in the classroom? Why would you keep a person like that with these kids?”
Crawford was not offered professional coaching and was told she will only be employed through the school year, according to her Penn-Williams. Both sources said Crawford had to fight to get union representation. When her status as a tenured educator was called into question by the Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA), she verified her credentials via her previous job, as an employee of the Bridgeport school system. Bridgeport provided a letter stating that Crawford had tenure.
Three days later, both sources said, the Bridgeport HR rep retracted the letter, copying Lissette Colon, NPS Director of Human Resources. Colon had also worked in Bridgeport.
Then McBryde got involved and Crawford was declared qualified for NASA representation.
NASA President Lynne Moore has not answered multiple emails asking about Crawford. The word “tenure” does not appear in NASA’s contract with NPS. Some contract excerpts:
- “NASA personnel have the right to have NASA representation at all meetings concerning conditions of employment or disciplinary measures.”
- “‘Party in interest’ shall mean a grievant, including the grievant’s designated representatives as provided for herein, and any person or persons who might be required to take action or against whom action might be taken, in order to resolve a grievance.”
- “Any party in interest may be represented on all levels of the formal grievance procedure by NASA representative(s). The Association shall have the right to be present and state its views at all stages of the procedure.”
An April 5 NancyOnNorwalk Freedom of Information Act request to Norwalk Public Schools seeking emails between Crawford and Moore and has not yet produced results.
Both sources said Crawford has hired a private attorney. Attorney Thomas Bucci confirmed he represents Crawford but declined to comment due to attorney-client privilege.
Penn-Williams said Bucci is taking a back seat to NASA in the grievance process.
Crawford can now appeal to the Board of Education.