Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trouble Over Bridgwaters

Or is that a bridge over troubled waters? Prudence Bridgwaters is the IPS administrator who helped orchestrate the removal of IPS Principal Jeffrey White at John Marshall High School. A couple of months ago, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz uploaded an audio recording of a conversation between her and White during which she told White he couldn't suspend students at the school because they might sue the district. As it turns out, this isn't the first time Bridgwaters has been at the center of controversy at IPS. Bridgwaters previously worked as a principal at Coleman Middle School back in the 1990s before being removed due to serious issues with her performance.

After leaving IPS the first time, Bridgwaters later went to work for Mansur as the Welcome Center manager for the Fall Creek Place redevelopment project under the Peterson administration. The Welcome Center became known by many as the Unwelcome Center under her tenure there. IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene later rehired her as Director of Secondary Education after taking charge of the state's largest school system. Keep in mind that the Fall Creek Place project had strong backing from former U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, who made sure the project's managers, builders and contractors met with the approval of the Carson political machine.

At the time of Bridgwaters' removal as the principal of School 86 on West 49th Street, her attorney complained to Indianapolis Star reporter Barb Albert that she was the victim. Teachers and parents at the school told Albert a different story. One teacher commented to Albert, "I just don't feel that the building was run professionally." "So far as being principal, I don't think she is fair." Another teacher complained to Albert, "I don't think people respected her as a principal because they felt she did things unbecoming of an administrator." A parent complained to Albert, "She is ineffective as a principal." "She doesn't know how to deal with kids, and she doesn't deal well with the teachers." "She's divisive." "She pits one teacher against another."

Albert's report also raised more serious allegations against Bridgwaters. "IPS is alleging that she falsified a report and misrepresented the need for a classroom aide," Albert quoted an IPS official as saying. "She also allegedly sent teachers' aides on personal errands for her and improperly reported an illness of her own," Albert wrote. Bridgwaters' attorney admitted to Albert that his client had sent teacher aides on errands, but he insisted they were school-related. According to Albert, IPS claimed Bridgwaters "did not follow proper procedures for reporting a two-day illness." "Her son called a custodian and the IPS education Center one day, and she called the school the second day," Albert wrote.

Supt. White recently came under fire for the hiring of his son, Reginald White, as behavior dean and coach at Tech High. White's daughter, Kim White, is already employed as a teacher at John Marshall. One critic of White complained to this blog that White also hired Bridgwaters' son, Clark, as a compliance monitor for IPS Transportation.

I said at the time of White's departure at John Marshall that his fate at IPS was sealed the day he decided to challenge Andre Carson at the Democratic caucus to nominate a special election candidate to take his grandmother's place in Congress after her death. I complained during the special election race between Carson and Republican Jon Elrod that Carson had been permitted by IPS to stage press-attended events at IPS schools under the guise of promoting a reading program. Naturally, Carson opposed the creation of more charter school during his short stint on the City-County Council.

After leaving IPS, Jeffrey White has gone to work for a group that promotes charter schools and hopes to establish one himself according to Star political columnist Matt Tully. Star reporter Andy Gammill wrote that John Marshall , once a "miracle of rejuvenation" under White, had descended into chaos as discipline evaporated and a "wave of teachers quit." Tully quoted White as complaining about Statehouse Democrats playing politics with charter schools and said he was considering a run for the City-County Council. If he wants to run for the City-County Council, he'll have to run as a Republican. I'm sure the Carson political machine will put the kibosh on any campaign by an intelligent, independent thinker like White.


indyernie said...

The racketeering Carson gang has its hands in everything. It's time to start smacking knuckles with a ruler.... or better yet, a big stick.
Andre Carson is a goon and so is anybody who associates with him.

Melyssa said...

Heard Jeff White on Abdul's show this morning! LOVED HIM!

Unknown said...

This is crazy. Please don't forget that "Dr." Bridgwaters is also the Director of Arlington High School. She needs to be fired. She only wants people that are willing to go along with wrongdoing. She got rid of the Arlington Principal and the assistant principals at Washington and Shortridge.