“Mean Monster Principal at PS 31 Brooklyn Is Anti-Halloween”

I got two gem emails this morning – one that made me wonder why I blog and the other that made me realize why I blog. The first had the subject line “Hipster” and when I opened it it said in bold “I HATE YOU.” (The fact that I am even protecting the identity of this loser is beyond me.)

Then the sky opened and an anonymous email came from an address named “Be Kind To Children” with the subject line “Mean Monster Principal at PS 31 Brooklyn Is Anti-Halloween” because she is:

scheduling children’s School Picture Day on October 31 year after year. At PS 31 Samuel F. Dupont at 75 Meserole Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn the hard-working, well-deserving children have NO RECESS, ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THEIR 3RD FLOOR GYM (because PS 31 Brooklyn Principal Scarlato believes that “Gym destroys education”), and ARE FORCED TO HAVE THEIR SCHOOL PICTURE DAY ON HALLOWEEN EVERY YEAR. Booooooo, PS 31 Brooklyn Principal!

“Hard-working, well-deserving”? Is this a labor union?

In a follow-up this parent requested to remain anonymous for the safety of her child at PS31 “because the school’s administration has been known to retaliate against parents who voice their opinions.”

I called Principle Scarlato hoping she would sound like Minnie Castevet from Rosemary’s baby, because that is what responsible bloggers do, heroically confront the accused witch in parent school disputes. Scarlato was pretty nice on the phone and responded to each issue.

The truth is that Picture Day has been on Halloween since before Scarlato was Principle over thirteen years ago. She said that when she asked about it then she was told “not all children can afford costumes,” and she continued the practice. And because Picture Day is on Halloween no kids dress in costumes, but wear “beautiful dresses and bow ties” and feel “beautiful and handsome,” she said. Don’t mini suits and tiaras cost money too?

In defense she said, “I’m not anti-Halloween” and that the school hosted a Halloween Potluck last week and encouraged kids to dress up and today students enjoy Halloween treats and activities all day.

But Halloween isn’t about treats and activities – it’s about dressing up like super heroes and punk rockers and today (at this very moment) no child is wearing a costumes at PS31 because it’s Picture Day. That’s a bummer. Will they survive?

How about boycotting Picture Day altogether? Have your kid pose under a white sheet or in camouflage make-up. Don’t parents have enough photos of their kids anyway?

The angry anonymous parent elaborated:

Students are forced to have GYM (only 1-2 times per week with their classroom teacher, not a PE teacher) in the basement, which does not have the proper flooring, padding, etc. required and has dangerous exposed pillars, despite having a beautiful GYM on the 3rd Floor, because the Principal, Mary Scarlato, thinks that “GYM destroys education” (she actually said that, verbatim, at the first PS 31 PTA Meeting on Friday, Sept 27, 2013, start time: 8:45am).

Oh the pillars and the padding. I remember gym class at PS49 in the cafeteria with the sweet smell of tater tots wafting from the kitchen. And those relay race scooters – I bet those are banned nowadays for safety concerns.

It’s true that gym class at PS 31 is only held 1-2 times per week and they DO NOT use the “beautiful” 3rd floor gym, which is directly over the library because it needs sound proofing. Scarlato said she has been working for 5 years with school facilities to get it done. I bet it’s pretty loud and disruptive. Ever walk by a school yard at recess? Kids are insane and scream like wild animals. And I believe that school facilities are dragging their feet on this one.

Scarlato added that health and wellness are very important and the students are very active daily within their classrooms and participate in a program called “Mighty Milers” in which they clock their mileage walking inside the building daily.

The key here is “in the building” – Scarlato confirmed there is NO RECESS. The kids stay inside the school the entire day despite a small playground with a jungle gym. This struck me as cruel and unusual. Don’t kids need sunlight and fresh air?

Scarlato is worried they will “get hurt.” At PS31 “safety is a priority” and she doesn’t have the support staff to supervise over 30 kids running around like lunatics. She cited an incident of a student’s tooth going through his lip.”Even a scraped knee,” she said, “Everyday someone gets hurt.”

What do you think? Is Principle Scarlato an evil witch?

About Jen G

After living in NYC my entire life, I found the strongest sense of community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Running this blog is truly an honor and the best part is meeting its readers in real life. Everyday I am energized by smiles and inspiring conversations with fellow Greenpointers who tirelessly do and create incredible things that are good for our community and share the same love I have for life here. If you see me walking with my little dog "D" - please say hi!