Officials confirmed that Harlem principal, Jeanne Worrell-Breeden, forged test scores of her third graders the day before her suicide. The Department of Education investigated the allegation and released a memorandum Monday that stated the accusation had been corroborated with substantial evidence. These exam scores have since been invalidated.
On April 17, Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, jumped in front of a B-train on 135th street. She died later that week on April 25th at the Harlem Hospital Center, reported the New York Times.
The day before, her third-grade students at Teachers College Community School finished their three-day Common Core English exam. As a new school, the test was administered for the first time. These Common Core exams are anxiety-inducing to many public schools in the city. Only 29.4 percent passed the English exam last year, according to the New York Post.
To prepare for the exam, Worrell-Breeden reportedly worked hard to reduce test anxiety and help prepare her students. She organized pep rallies and served breakfast each morning.
Laurie Kindred, co-president of the parent-teacher association, told the Times that “aside from being inspiring and supportive, Jeanene was a visionary leader,” According to Kindred, Worrell-Breeden “was an impassioned, dedicated principal who stood by what she believed on behalf of the kids.”
At the time of the testing, Worrell-Breeden was experiencing personal struggles. Not only had her grandmother passed away earlier that year, but her husband moved out and had a child with another woman, a family friend told the Post.
Before this year, Worrell-Breeden was seen as a controversial figure. Before she was hired as a principal in Harlem, she was investigated by the special commissioner at P.S. 18 in the Bronx. The commissioner found that she received overtime pay for clocking in while she was realy spending time in exercises classes. Then, she tried to cover up the fact that she did not offer the overtime opportunities to her colleagues, as is required, but her fellow employees would not lie for her. Worrell-Breeden allegedly asked the employees to say she offered the overtime pay to them first, reported the Times.
Despite the scandal, the Department of Education could not fire her and instead fined her two weeks pay. She then became the first principal of the Teachers College Community School, a partner school with Columbia University.
City Councilman Mark Levine, who represents Harlem, stated, “the tragic irony here is that by all accounts, this school is a runaway success.” Praising the school, he told the Times, “I’ve visited a number of times and am in regular communication with the parents. They seem to be thriving.”
Worrell-Breeden’s statement as principal of the Teachers College Community School is still posted on the school’s website.
“Throughout my career ... I have endeavored to enable students to engage in self-reflection and understand the value of interdependence. I have prepared students, staff and parents with the materials and tools that will extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom.”