Sunday, January 8, 2017
A party-loving Brooklyn principal and his top assistant principal have hosted taxpayer-funded celebrations, out-of-town trips and staff retreats where drunken staffers spend the night carousing, The Post has learned.
At one boozy bash during an upstate conference attended by William Jusino, principal of Progress HS for Professional Careers in Williamsburg, faculty members slammed shots and jumped on hotel beds, witnesses said.
“Everyone was drunk. It got so loud that the hotel called the police,” a staffer said.
As The Post reported last month, Jusino faces a possible fine by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board after investigators found he took himself and 43 on-duty faculty members to a 2014 Yankees game with 100 tickets the team had given for students.
That game was just one of many getaways that Jusino, 58, and Assistant Principal Diana Rendon, 33, call “team-building activities.”
The school gave staffers two free tickets each for a Mets game in May 2015, held meetings at luxury conference centers, and took groups to education conferences in Dallas, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Jusino made headlines in 2010 for a boozy two-night staff retreat at the Mohonk Mountain House, a posh resort in upstate New Paltz. Officials last week would not say if he was reprimanded.
But the trips have continued. Teachers described another liquor-filled “planning retreat” in May 2015 at a stylish Palisades conference center.
While the weekend event was “optional,” staffers said they felt pressured to go. Nearly the whole staff, about 60, went.
“All the food and rooms were free. We paid for nothing,” one said.
Saturday’s activities included costume dress-up, lip-syncing and a dance competition. That night, the school rented a room for a party, with one staffer serving as deejay. The merry-making and music spilled into several hotel rooms.
Rendon came into one room with a bottle of Jack Daniels. “She walked up to me, put it in my mouth, and poured it down my throat, saying ‘Drink! Drink! Drink!” the staffer said. “She was drunk. I was drunk, Everyone was drunk.”
Rendon and a female staffer “were jumping up and down on the bed, and fell off the bed,” another witness said.
Jusino shrugged off a warning by cops to keep it down, telling a teacher, “When we turn up, we get loud,” one said.
“The next day, everyone was hung over. We went outside, did relay races and hula hoops — that’s literally it. Some people were too hung over and just watched.”
Rendon flatly denied accounts of her drunken revelry. “I assume it’s a disgruntled employee,” she said of staffers who recounted the events.
DOE officials said of the faculty’s drinking habits: “Employees are expected to use good judgment, but DOE does not have regulations concerning their alcohol consumption off work time.”
Rendon said faculty groups took taxpayer-funded trips for professional development at conferences held by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development in Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
“This is going to be an epic weekend!” Rendon posted before the trip to Dallas in June 2014. A photo shows her and another staffer frolicking in a water tube. Sunday activities, the caption reads: “pool, lunch, then water park.” Rendon told The Post the conferences took the whole day.
About 34 staffers wearing custom-designed shirts attended a “planning conference” last May at the Doral Arrowwood luxury resort in Rye Brook.
In addition, Jusino uses his DOE credit card to pay for staff celebrations and feasts at local restaurants, including Fushini Williamsburg, an up-scale Japanese sushi lounge. Jusino has spent hundreds of taxpayer dollars at eateries, records show. The school also rewards staffers with vouchers for free cocktails. He did not return messages seeking comment.
The 950-student school posted a 68 percent graduation rate last year, but only 12 percent of the grads left prepared for college or careers.