Teachers at PS 269 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, are livid after they claim Principal Jazmine Santiago used school funds to build a private gym on campus. Not only did the principal use school funds for private use, teachers claim she also frequents the personal gym during school hours. Meanwhile, the school is struggling with only 16 percent of students passing the state English tests and only 12 percent passed math exams last year.
According to the New York Post, teachers at the Brooklyn school were livid when they found out what was hiding behind a locked third floor storage room. Principal Santiago would frequent the room but left it locked and would not allow students or other staff in the area. However, teachers say that a personal gym was discovered behind the closed doors and that school funds were used to purchase the equipment. It is reported that the storage space was converted to Santiago’s personal gym in June 2014 without any consultation from other staffers. The equipment cost hundreds of dollars and diverted much needed school funds.
The Daily Mail reports that inside the storage room turned private gym there are numerous pieces of gym equipment including a bench press, pull-up bar, treadmill, elliptical machine and thigh exerciser. In addition to her own private gym, the principal is paid $124,319 a year.
When confronted about the gym, Santiago told other staffers and teachers that she let some of the older students use the gym. However, teachers say that is not possible as the door is always locked and the equipment in the gym is designed for adults. The oldest child in the Brooklyn PS 269 is in fifth grade. Teachers say the equipment would not be appropriate for a fifth grader and that the kids already have their own gym for exercise.
In addition to the diverting of school funds for personal use, Santiago also reportedly spends a lot of time in the gym during school hours. One teacher notes she comes in early to use it and stays all day.
“She comes in early, she goes to the gym. Even when class is in session, she’s still in the gym.”
When parents were informed of the use of funds for a personal gym for Santiago, many were highly displeased. One parent says the expense “makes no sense at all,” while another says it simply “isn’t right.”
“That’s not right at all. The funds should go to helping school issues like going toward bullying campaigns or extracurricular activities. I don’t understand how this helps.”
The New York Department of Education says they are looking into the claims and will take appropriate action. They also note that school funds are only supposed to be used to “develop a supporting learning environment.”
“School funds should only be used to help develop a supporting learning environment. We take any allegation that funds were used inappropriately seriously.”