More than a week after being arrested for a DUI and hit and run, the principal at Paul Revere College Preparatory School in Bernal Heights held a meeting on Tuesday afternoon in which she apologized to staff members for the incident.
In a phone interview with Mission Loc@l, Principal Sheila Sammon Milosky said that her lawyer had advised her not to provide details regarding the incident, but that she was “continuing to be committed to a great team of staff.”
“I’m there,” she said, referring to her role as principal, before adding that she plans to remain through her three-year contract.
But several staff members and parents say the DUI arrest, which they first learned about on Tuesday, was just the latest in a string of incidents indicating erratic behavior on Milosky’s part. Her behavior, they say, has created a divide between the principal and other members of the school community. They did not say that Milosky had ever consumed alcohol while at school.
A school staff member who asked that her name be withheld for fear of retribution said that Milosky had recently asked her, along with several other teachers, to leave the school because she disagreed with the principal over some administrative policies.
“She treats teachers really badly,” said the staff member. “The way that she has interacted with teachers has been so detrimental.”
Several teachers no longer speak with the principal without a union representative present because Milosky uses intimidation, said the staff member. Many teachers, especially newer ones, are scared to speak out about how they have been treated, the staff member added, and turnover has been high since Milosky was hired. Assistant principals and a middle school dean are among those who have left Paul Revere during Milosky’s tenure, the staff member said.
Milosky has also curtailed classes such as music, art and physical education in order to focus efforts on math and language arts, the staff member said. “The art teacher barely had any art classes,” said the staff member, even though many at the school had asked for more.
Milosky said she was surprised by the allegations, including the charge that she had recently asked teachers to leave. “Any decision is very thoughtful in terms of strategic plans and moving forward,” she said.
The school is in the middle of making major changes, Milosky said, and issues related to personnel are normal. None of her decisions are reactive, she said.
“This is very much a healing place of coming together. What we’re doing is really engaging the community to deeper and deeper levels — with parents, teachers and students.”
Several parents at Paul Revere disagree, charging that Milosky has instilled fear in both students and parents. Some say that they have filed police reports and pressed charges against her after she physically mishandled their children.
Parents were unaware of Milosky’s arrest until Tuesday afternoon, when they began calling one another with the news, said Fran Evan, whose daughter is in the eighth grade at Paul Revere.
“I’m trying to understand — why has she been at the school, still working?” said Evans. ”She was trying to keep it a secret.”
“The safety and wellbeing of our children are at stake,” Anna Jackson, who has five children attending the school, wrote in an email. “It is no secret, based on all the parent complaints and now with her recent criminal activity, that she makes hasty decisions that [have] put our kids in danger.”
The principal first came under fire last fall when some parents insisted that she had instituted “corporal punishment” and strict and unfair policies, like restricting bathroom breaks, in the K-8 school. Some parents said they had called the police to complain, although no formal charges were on file with the police department.
“I worked with parents last semester who raised many concerns about the principal’s judgement and wanted her removed,” wrote Phillip Pierce, who works at the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. ”They were denied then and this has only made them more upset and [they] want action from the SFUSD.”
The alleged DUI occurred on May 12. Early that morning, at about 12:15 a.m., a white 2011 Dodge Avenger with a Colorado license plate allegedly struck a Hyundai Tucson and a Lincoln Town Car just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, according to a report in the Marin Independent Journal.
“The Avenger didn’t stop and continued heading north. The victims pulled over at Vista Point and called the CHP, which tracked down the suspect car,” the I-J reported. “Officers arrested Sheila Milosky, a 50-year-old Mill Valley resident, on suspicion of driving under the influence with blood-alcohol levels higher than .08 and hit and run.”
The San Francisco Unified School District said it is aware of the misdemeanor charges.
“This incident occurred on a weekend and is unrelated to school activities,” district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe wrote. Staff members and parents said that the incident took place after an end-of-the-school year staff party in the Mission.
“If she is convicted, by California law, a misdemeanor conviction in itself is not grounds for termination,” Blythe wrote. “Ms. Milosky has been a District employee for nearly two years. Ms. Milosky underwent background screening at the time of her employment.”
Milosky became principal at Paul Revere during the last school year, after the school had been designated as underperforming and received a stake in the federal School Improvement Grant program.
“The school PTA is saying we need to support our principal. How can we unite with this principal if she has poor judgement and breaks the law and gets arrested?” wrote Jackson. “If the principal can’t make the right decisions for herself, how can she be making the right decisions or judgement for our children?”
A court date is scheduled for Milosky for July 17 in Marin County.