At Deerfield Beach High School, Staffers Say Principal Is a Bully and Mentally Disabled Students Are Treated Like Janitors
The student, who spoke to New Times on the condition of anonymity, said she was penetrated while bent over stretching during a Friday-afternoon gym class last year. A male student, she said, approached from behind and "went inside with his hand."
That Monday, she said, she complained to school administrators, who asked if she was raped. "When I said no, they swept everything under the rug," she said.
The male student was never punished, she said, and retaliated against her with threatening text messages. "Now I feel I shouldn't have said anything at all," she said, adding that the complaint damaged her reputation. "This taught me not to open my mouth. If I hadn't said anything, that would have been the best thing."
The district was alerted to problems at the high school during a June School Board meeting, where more than a dozen employees spoke out condemning Marlow. Teachers had come to the meeting to support Racquel Lipscomb, whom Marlow had demoted from vice principal to teacher. They complained about Marlow's bellicose management style. At that meeting, Superintendent Robert Runcie said he'd investigate the embattled principal, but as of last week, spokesperson Clark could not confirm whether Runcie ever took action.
Now, Lipscomb and other teachers tell New Times about an additional concern: a program that puts mentally disabled students on recycling duty. The "Community Based Instruction" program is designed to help students develop job skills. According to the program's curriculum, one of the students' tasks is to "collect recycling from participating classrooms and offices."
But three separate educators said the task is much dirtier than picking up office paper. "The students who are picking up the garbage are the lowest-of-the-low mentally," Lipscomb said. "You have kids out there picking up trash who cannot speak, and they're rummaging through the trash... And there are people from the community who dump their garbage in our bins."
Added Kim Frazier, the school's former budget keeper: "They would make them clean up the cafeteria. They weren't given gloves. It was upsetting, because that's why we have custodians. I've been with the district for 13 years, and this is stuff that was not going on at other schools."
An attendance clerk who requested anonymity to protect her job said Marlow uses intimidation to squash talk of the school's problems. "Everyone's afraid to talk," the clerk said. "He'll get you moved or fired. He'll do something. They plot. It's a very uncomfortable place to work. I'm scared every day. You can't trust Marlow or anybody."
Hibbs said if a teacher usurps his authority, Marlow launches an investigation. In the past five years, according to a public records request, Marlow has asked for five investigations of teachers at the school.
"If you're not on his side," Kearney said, "if you don't agree with him, he comes after you."
Marlow, reached on his cell phone, said "Hold on -- there are some reception problems" and hung up. He didn't return phone calls afterward. Clark said she could not confirm whether any formal complaints had been filed against Marlow's administration or whether investigations had been opened.
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