‘Go back to the strip club where you came from’, Jersey City principal allegedly told teacher
After stating “I have enough black teachers here,” Jersey City Principal Rosalyn Barnes allegedly told a teacher to “go back to the strip club where you came from” during a confrontational rant, according to reports obtained by Real Jersey City.
Rosalyn Barnes identifies as a “Visionary Principal for the Jersey City Public Schools.” However, reports written by teachers working under her leadership paint a much different picture of the principal at Chaplain Charles Watters School (PS 24) – a K-8 district school.
Documents provided to Real Jersey City by a source fearing retaliation, which were apparently written by PS 24 teachers Tamica Cherry and Alexandria Hall, claim that Barnes, on February 21, 2018, accosted the two teachers in front of children and colleagues prior to a field trip. During the heated confrontation, Barnes allegedly said “I have enough black teachers” and told Cherry, a union building representative, she could “go back to the strip club where you came from.”
Separate sources, including Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) President Ron Greco, confirmed the existence of the allegations. The reports were addressed to Celeste Williams, JCPS Chief of Talent, and filed with Greco, Dr. Magda Savino (Director/Enterprise Division), Mr. Gary Murphy (Assistant Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer) and members of the Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOE).
According to Hall’s report, tensions started around 8:40 AM when Hall did not immediately confirm to Barnes, during a phone conversation, whether a student council meeting would be held after school that day. An adult member of the Student Council Committee, Hall claims Barnes – who was apparently inquiring on behalf of a student – became incensed after the teacher stated she didn’t want to “give the student information if I’m not 100% sure.”
“This is that childish stuff that I am talking about with you,” Barnes allegedly told Hall before hanging up the phone. After the call, Hall wrote that the principal requested an “adult representative” over the intercom system – which implied she was “too childish” and Barnes “would need assistance from someone else more mature.”
Hall’s report revealed that she experienced distress from Barnes’ actions. The teacher claims she needed to leave the classroom to collect herself and found comfort from a co-worker while a substitute attended to her students. Hall added this wasn’t the first time she, or her colleagues, had been described by Barnes as childish or immature – which is considered a form of bullying.
Eventually Hall returned to her classroom, with co-teacher Cherry present, to presumably work on time-critical tasks before a planned field trip to Barnes & Noble. Shortly thereafter, at the end of morning announcements, Barnes summoned Hall – over the intercom – to the principal’s office.
Of note, Barnes also summoned Hall while she was being comforted by a co-worker, in a bathroom, but the teacher claims she didn’t hear the request.
Hall’s report states that, because she was attending to children and preparing for the trip, she could not immediately respond to Barnes. After Cherry answered a follow-up call from a clerk requesting Hall report to Barnes’ office, the union rep’s report claims she became aware of the contentious situation – even offering to accompany her co-teacher to meet with Barnes.
Despite multiple orders from Barnes to report to her office, Hall was clearly not comfortable with the request – which is apparently the issue that enraged the principal. By the time the two teachers brought the children to the bus, Barnes stated “[Hall] will not be going on this field trip!”
Cherry’s report claims Hall was brought to tears in front of children, prompting the union official to address Barnes about the situation. Cherry wrote that she told Barnes it wasn’t fair and attempted to speak with the principal privately, but that Barnes declined, then yelled to her students – “Come on! If they don’t take you, I will!”
Cherry continued that, despite the children appearing “extremely confused,” the students “did as they were told and were escorted to the bus.” According to Hall’s report, after the students were on the bus, “Barnes continued to yell and clap on the sidewalk” and supposedly shouted “I am the principal of the building and what I say goes!”
Cherry, apparently defending her co-teacher, responded that “I think you’re only upset because she didn’t come running when you called for her,” according to Hall’s report. Barnes allegedly responded by lunging at Cherry screaming, “I am the principal of this building! You better come running when I call!”
During the heated confrontation, Barnes allegedly said she “had enough black teachers” and told Cherry she could “go back to the strip club where you came from,” according to both reports. Barnes apparently needed to be held back by three other staff members, including a security guard, during the ordeal, according to the teachers’ reports.
“This was an assassination of my character,” wrote Cherry. “I never worked in a strip club, nor do I go to strip clubs. This type of statement has the potential to haunt and damage me for the remainder of my professional career as an educator.”
Cherry continued that, “I am also not sure why Ms. Barnes had to be held back. I am fearful that she will eventually try to physically harm me and try to destroy my professional career.”
The two teachers described the episode as representative of Barnes’ leadership as principal, including Hall who wrote “there have been documented accounts involving Ms. Barnes and how she belittles, ridicules, intimidates and disrespects others.”
Multiple JCBOE sources, speaking under the condition of anonymity, confirmed knowledge of other disturbing allegations related to Barnes’ leadership. Sources also confirmed that there were multiple witnesses to the alleged incident detailed in the reports written by Cherry and Hall.
Furthermore, Hall, a teacher of four years with the district, wrote that she feared the incident may negatively impact her non-tenure status and the longevity of her professional career with the district.
Greco told Real Jersey City that, as far as he knows, the JCBOE “has not done anything to remedy the situation as this has gone on for years at PS 24.”
Furthermore, given that Barnes allegedly stated she has “enough black teachers,” and Hall is a black woman, Greco expressed concern for the young teacher’s non-tenure status “because a culture of fear and intimidation exists in many school buildings due to the fact that some principals rule through the bully and racial pulpit.”
Greco added that he was aware of other racially-charged complaints related to Barnes at PS 24.
Maryann Dickar, spokesperson for the JCPS, declined to comment on this story, stating “we can not make any comments about personnel issues.”