Nadia Lopez, the former Brownsville principal who went viral after a student praised her in Humans of New York as the most influential person in his life — and paid nearly $1.4 million to her visit to Harvard for her “scholars ‘ – could understandably get VIP treatment when returning to the school she founded.
Instead, she was treated like a loafer by petty-minded urban educators when she paid a visit to the school on April 13.
“I’ve been told that my presence creates tension. I was literally told not to come back,” a stunned Lopez said on cellphone video shortly after leaving Mott Hall Bridges Academy.
She is now under investigation by the DOE for “unauthorized” visits, photographing students without permission and posting pictures on her Instagram page, officials said.
“I can’t even express how hurtful this is,” Lopez told the Post.
She said she has never been accused of wrongdoing and wants nothing more than to uplift the K-8 school and its 204 students, 98 percent of whom are low-income Black and Hispanic. “I’m invested in it.”
After 10 years as principal, Lopez resigned from the school in 2021 to battle an autoimmune kidney disease, which doctors attributed to work-related stress — 12- to 14-hour days and what she described as a lack of support from the DOE.
But she stayed in touch with Mott Hall Bridges’ peers and alumni – who describe the school as a second family – while making a name for herself as a motivational speaker, consultant and leadership coach. She recently started a podcast called Detention, which discusses the problems of public education.
Conflict with DOE Brass erupted when Lopez was filming near Mott Hall Bridges for a documentary about black girl empowerment alongside Laquana Lane, an alumnus who survived cancer at age 16.
Laquana wanted to visit a beloved teacher, Ms. Graham. So the two entered the school – and reported to the security officer.
Laquana, now 21, hugged and talked to her sixth grade teacher while Lopez stood by.
They also told acting principal Laura Onwuka about Laquana’s trip to Ghana, which helped Lopez through a nonprofit organization run by a model and an activist who mentored her. “It was a good conversation,” Laquana recalls.
But as they walked out, District 23 Superintendent Miatheresa Pate and her deputy Josephine Van-Ess approached. Within earshot of Laquana, Pate told Lopez she was not welcome to return to school.
“I was shocked,” Laquana said. “Ms. I felt sorry for Lopez because I knew she couldn’t go back to the school she built. It was pretty sad.”
According to insiders, the friction began during an earlier surprise visit in March. Lopez sat with Onwuka for almost an hour and shared the history of the school and best practices. She also gave her successor a bag containing a candle, a mug, a box of tea, a diary and a signed copy of her book.
She also gave out mini-packages for teachers with lifesavers and other sweets, packets of tissues and flower seeds” – “because you are planting seeds in[students’]lives.”
But she later ruffled the feathers by sending faculty members an email critical of the school’s operations, titled “Thank you team.”
“It is very clear that the current climate and culture does not match the expectations I have for our students or the staff of our beloved school,” she wrote. “Those currently appointed to the role of [Mott Hall Bridges] leaders of the DOE have no idea what it means to be a part of something created to defy mediocrity and the status quo.”
Lopez said the teachers confided in her about the staff’s low morale.
During this visit, Lopez also chatted with students and reminded some who were roaming the halls to return to class. She shot a short video and took photos of students at work and posted several images on her Instagram page.
“It’s something I’ve always done to celebrate the kids of Brownsville in a world that had low expectations of them,” she said.
The special investigative officer for city schools confirmed Friday that the school had filed a complaint against Lopez. The SCI said it referred the complaint back to the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations. A DOE spokesman said the agency would not comment.
The DOE’s slap in the face comes despite Lopez bringing widespread credit for a public school in a poor, violence-ridden neighborhood. Lopez and Vidal Chastanet, the eighth grader who spoke with Humans of New York, appeared on television with Robin Roberts and Ellen DeGeneres.
President Obama invited Lopez and Vidal to visit him in the Oval Office. Lopez later received a Black Girls Rock award at an event with Michelle Obama.
Lopez gave a TED Talk, a popular online session, about her leadership style and her mantra: “Whoever opens a school door closes a prison,” as Victor Hugo put it.
For four years, Lopez used donations to take sixth- and eighth-grade students on visits to Harvard — to let them know they were among the most respected institutions — Yale, St. Francis College, LaGuardia Community College, and historically black colleges .
She wrote a book called The Bridge to Brilliance; How a leader in a difficult community inspires the world.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/30/hero-ex-principal-nadia-lopez-banned-from-school-she-founded/ Hero ex-principal Nadia Lopez has been banned from the school she founded