Reading, writing - and wrongful firings. That's the curriculum at a new charter school in The Bronx, where an "out of control" principal axed three teachers in a month, refused to pay the salaries of two and was found guilty of expelling students without due process, according to furious former employees.
Elaine Ruiz Lopez - founder, CEO and principal of the International Leadership Charter School - allegedly fired math teacher Maria Ortega, English teacher Tiffany Ray and the school's biology teacher less than a month after the school opened in September.
The school serves about 90 ninth-graders, and had fewer than 10 teachers to begin with.
Lopez then fired a fourth person - Spanish teacher Aixa Rodriguez - in November, days after the state Department of Education investigated Rodriguez's claims that the principal was improperly expelling students and not providing necessary speech services.
The state substantiated the claims…
The school's former director of finance and operations, Osiris Stephen - who resigned in October - said Lopez was "verbally abusive to teachers, staff and students."
"It's all about ego with her," he said. "It's not about the kids. If you cross her, you're out."
Ray and Ortega said they submitted resignation letters on Sept. 21 after a month of "harassment." After receiving the letters, Lopez "completely" flipped out, Ortega said.
"She called the cops on us and told us to get out of the building," Ortega said. "We were more than willing to finish the day and four more weeks to fulfill our contract, but she screamed at us to get out and said we were fired."
"She said we'd never work in a charter school again," said Ray.
Ray and Ortega said they were forced to go to small-claims court for six weeks worth of pay that Lopez refused to give them. Ortega won almost $5,000 on Feb. 6 but has still not been paid. Ray's hearing was postponed.
Seventeen students sent a letter to Lopez, calling the firings "mean and racist" and complaining they get "a new teacher almost every week."
Lopez, a self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican woman of color," said accusations of racism are "unequivocally not true."…