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There’s little doubt that the Fort Worth ISD needed some good news to offset a couple of bouts of negative publicity over the past few months, first with its finance department’s embarrassing admission that the district overpaid employees more than $1.5 million last year and the recent board decision to declare a “financial state of emergency” for the second year in a row that will likely result in laying off employees.

It finally got a break last week.

The U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights exonerated the district of discriminating against African-American students and others under Trimble Tech High School ’s application protocols after a nine-month investigation following a complaint filed last June by Rev. Kyev Tatum , head of the TTHS alumni association. Kyev charged that the admission policies were written to exclude blacks, males and learning-disabled students and rested on the fact that prior to 1996 when the admission policy changed, Tech was 50 percent black and that number has now dropped to 18 percent.

“There was no evidence to sustain” the allegations, according to the OCR report, which determined that “ the reduction in the number of African-American students at Trimble Tech corresponds to a drop in the number of applicants.”

Clint Bond , spokesman for the district, said “We’re happy with the outcome [and] were always confident” that Tech’s policies are not discriminatory.

For Tatum , however, the OCR’s reasoning only proved his point. “They’re blaming the minority kids for their failure to apply instead of asking the question ‘why aren’t you applying?’” he said.

Tech, once known as a dumping ground for those too poor or too academically-challenged to go to college, has become one of the district’s better high schools with an “academically acceptable” rating for three years in a row. It is the only high school with no district boundaries and with a policy that allows it to recruit students who must apply to attend the technical/academic school.

In recent years high-performing students from some of the district’s worse-performing schools have been beating a path to Trimble Tech to the dismay of several trustees who claim that Tech’s recruitment policy is creating a “brain-drain” from the mostly minority schools in their district, resulting in those schools’ low-academic performance. One of the complaints was that the recruitment process was narrowly focused on the better-performing middle schools and weighted in favor of high-performing students.

In response, the board changed its policies last February by expanding the recruiting process to all middle schools; removing consideration of the student’s past academic performance as a requirement for admission; and adding transparency to the selection process by having the selection committee broadened to include Tech teachers as well as administrators from the central office.

That still didn’t satisfy the minister and civil rights activist who filed the discrimination complaint four months later. The changed policies only made it harder for minority kids to apply, Tatum said. “Before the policy changed, applications [for admission to Tech] were available at all the middle schools,” he said. “Now the same students have to travel to Tech or the administration building downtown to pick up an application. …There is systemic racism in this policy that says to black and brown students ‘you need not apply,’ and the numbers prove it,” Tatum said. “Why [when blacks and Hispanics are the majority population in the district] are these students only 18 percent of Tech’s population? That’s the question the district needs to answer.”

Tatum said he will appeal the decision and take the district to federal court – if he can find an attorney willing to take it on.

But Tatum lost his fellow civil rights and long-time education activist Eddie Griffin on this one. Griffin, whose kids attended Tech, wrote in an email to the Weekly that he "always believed the federal complaint was like using a scatter gun to kill a gnat. At best, a favorable ruling [for Tatum] would have resulted in the feds or the state monitoring the application process for one school [Tech] and the only one at the time meeting the [state’s] standard. Why drag it down?"

Griffin, a Tech high school volunteer who worked cloesly with the district on the issue said that he and others "successfully implemented the same application process" for all of the schools with career and technical programs similar to Tech’s, thereby bridging the "disparity gap (at least, conceptually and in planning, if not wholly in resource allocation)." Griffin added, "I can expect a civil rights organization like SCLC [which Tatum heads] to sound the trumpet whenever there is discrimination and disparity. I am the activist and advocate who seeks resolution, and how to implement it."

Bond said since the OCR found “no evidence to sustain the [original] charges,” if Tatum continues his fight the district expects the outcome to be the same.


  1. Touro College, School of Health Sciences discriminated me, dismissed me from the Occupational Therapy Program, its College as well as prohibited me from pursuing opportunities it offers in other academic disciplines, disregarded my appeal letters, took away my right to pursue education and framed me for a crime I did not commit. Attempted falsifying business records 2nd degree. Bellow you will find the description of what took place in Touro College, School of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy Program. I have also included in the package two loose leaf binders. One binder has transcripts, registration papers, appeal letters, e-mails from professors and staff, an audio cassette and a CD of a conversation that took place with me and Professor Claire Daffner who discriminated me in the dual degree B.S. in Health Sciences and M.S. in Occupational Therapy Program in Touro College. The other binder has exams and term papers. I reported and sent my evidence to various agencies including, United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights who later dropped the investigation. I also reported Touro College’s discrimination to channels, CBS 2, NBC 4, ABC 7, WPIX 11. I also contacted the FBI and explained my situation about my discrimination and unfair practices and reported how police came to my residents without court a order, or subpoena and did not read me Miranda Warning, or told me the charges brought against me. I told the FBI that Touro College has illegal practices and abuses its power as well as wrote an e-mails to United States Student Association who responded quickly to me, but Touro College has not made any attempt to resolve the situation. I am afraid to go to jail.

    Below you will find a more detailed version of my story and the experience I have been going through since I joined Touro College as a student. Touro College, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the help of Michael Cherner’s graduation form awarded me its Associate in Arts (A.A.) Degree in Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts & Sciences, June 28, 2005.

    My name is Michael Levin, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I identify myself as an American Citizen who came to this country as a young boy from Belarus. It used to be part of former Soviet Union. I am in a legal loophole. Touro College framed me for crime I did not commit and took away my right for education. I received a misdemeanor and, I may get a jail sentence. I am afraid because I do not want to go to jail. Misdemeanor, which I got, is unjust because police, lawyers and the U.S. Department of Education authorities hided most evidence under the influence of Touro College.

    In 2005 Spring, I came to see Michael Cherner’s in his office at 1726 Kings Highway Touro College Campus. I asked my Michael Cherner if I would be eligible for graduation. Michael Cherner asked my Student ID then looked into his computer. He told me that I have good grades and I have enough credits for graduation. He gave me a graduation form with major declaration for me to sign then told me to give it to the registrar and bursar. A month or so later, I logged into my Touro College Academic account and noticed that 2 backdated History courses I never attended appeared for 2004 Fall Semester and they are (GHS – 105 – YA U.S HISTOR Y – 1763-1900 4 Credits Grade A) and (GJS – 271 – OL AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY 3 Credits Grade A). Few months passed and 2005 Spring Semester 2 more backdated History courses I never attended appeared and they are (GCA – 133 -YM HIST OF MUSIC I: ANCIENT TO BAROQUE 4 Credits grade A) (GHS-106-YA HISTORY OF THE U S 1877 TO PRESENT 4 Credits Grade A).

    One day, in the morning, when I was getting ready to go to work, police came to my home without a court order. They did not read me Miranda Warning and told me to take off my tie. My lawyer Ilya Z. Kleynerman told me that if I pursue a court appeal it will ruin my life and make Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Lenzner very angry.

    It all started when I applied to Touro College School of Health Sciences program in dual degree in BS in Health Sciences and MS in Occupational Therapy. In the year of 2004 I was invited for an interview with Claire Daffner a professor in the Occupational Therapy program in Touro College. On the interview Professor Claire Daffner, asked me questions regarding my national origin, my family socioeconomic status as well as made racial remarks. Claire Daffner asked me the following questions during the interview, “Do you live in a Russian Ghetto?, What do your parents do for a living?, Are you an Introvert or an Extravert?, What are you going to do if you are not going to be accepted into the program?”

    Within a month, in mail I received a rejection letter stating that I was not accepted into the program.

    Later, I was accepted in the program for the Fall of 2005 semester with the assistance of Michael Cherner and Andrique Baron. I was invited to Bayshore campus to meet with Elyse Pimsler and in her office she told me, “Andrique Barron is no longer your advocate.” As the semester went along in Gross Anatomy course at Bayshore Occupational Therapy Program I was segregated away from Occupational Therapy students and forced to sit with Physical Therapy students during examinations and lectures. I received unfair exams, was graded unfairly and did not receive class curves as other OT students received. I was truly neglected by professors. I believe that as an Occupational Therapy student I was a performing better than average but my grades were lowered and not curved as the rest of the class. Unfortunately the lack of support and negative environment produced by faculty and staff made it difficult for me to pursue my dream of becoming an Occupational Therapist. I turned to Professor Piroska Szabo the Gross Anatomy Professor for help, but unfortunately she was the one lowering my grades. Professor Piroska Szabo said to me, “”No one will ever ask you about your grades, and you are used to failing”. Imagine what I have been going through. In Gross Anatomy cadaver dissection laboratory I was placed in the back of the class and received little attention from instructors. I felt hopeless and had no one to turn to. I was emotionally tormented by the events that took place.

    Not knowing what to do next, I turned to Michael Cherner the Director of Kings Highway Touro College campus and Andrique Barron Director of admissions in Touro College for help; who were both sent to jail recently. My Gross Anatomy Professor Piroska Szabo failed me in the course and I met with the Occupational Therapy Department Leave of Absence and Academic Standing Committee to discuss my future in Occupational Therapy Program and asked for a second chance to retake the Gross Anatomy course. The committee put me on academic probation with the condition that If I do well in the Gross Anatomy course I will be allowed to continue my studies. I retook the Gross Anatomy course in Manhattan Campus for Spring 2006 semester with Professor Stephen Kanter who gave me an excellent grade. Afterward, the committee sent me a letter stating that I would be placed on academic probation and be allowed to transfer to Manhattan Occupational Therapy Program and begin my full time studies in Summer of 2006 semester under the conditions that I maintain my GPA, not fail more than 3 courses and Professor Claire Daffner would be my academic advisor and that I would have to see her weekly.
    Later, I was invited to Claire Daffner’s class, where she gave me and other students registration papers to select courses for the upcoming Summer 2006 semester in Occupational Therapy program at Manhattan campus. I chose a full time course load of twenty credits for this semester. Claire Daffner collected my signed registration papers along with other students in the class.

    The courses I registered for are: (HS-150 Kinesiology 4 Credits), (HS-190 Neurosciences 4 Credits), (OT-123 Growth & Development II 2 Credits), (OT-131 Psycho Social 3 Credits), (OT-135 Substance Abuse Seminar 1 Credit), (OT-175 OT Theory & Practice I 3 Credits).

    During my mandatory weekly meetings with her, she verbally abused me, made threats that I will fail all of my courses, diagnosed me with an “Auditory Processing Disorder” (She is not a medical doctor), as well as told me that other students are smarter and better than me. I have this on audio recording tape and CD. Claire Daffner told me, “You don’t know what I am capable of doing.” As a student, I did well in all of my courses but Instructors under Claire Daffner’s influence lowered my grades and made my learning environment unbearable for me. As a result, Claire Daffner Professor of OT-175 OT Theory & Practice I 3 Credits failed me in her course. Professor Lana Goodman of OT-131 Psycho Social 3 Credits failed me despite of my excellent performance in her class. I received a letter in mail stating that I am dismissed from the Occupational Therapy Program. The requirement to be kicked out from the program is by failing 3 courses. Theoretically I did not fail 3 courses but Gross Anatomy course which I retook and received an excellent grade was not accounted for as a passing course. It is Claire Daffner who did this. Afterward, I appealed to the Occupational Therapy Committee including Dean School of Health Sciences Joseph Weisberg as well as Associate Dean School of Health Sciences Gerald D. Barry Ph.D to allow me continue my education and become an Occupational Therapist, but I was denied every appeal by Occupational Therapy Department Leave of Absence and Academic Standing Committee. I also asked Joseph Weisberg to arrange a hearing with me but he never did. During a meeting with Vera-Jean Clark Brown the Director of Occupational Therapy Program, she said to me, “You will never become an Occupational Therapist”. Months later to a year after I have been dismissed from the Occupational Therapy Program I noticed in my Touro College student log in account that I was missing 27 credits in the following courses and they were not reflected anymore on my transcript.

    The following courses were deleted are:
    (HS-104 Gross Anatomy 7 Credits), For Spring 2006 Semester, I retook
    (HS-150 Kinesiology 4 Credits), For Summer 2006 Semester
    (HS-190 Neurosciences 4 Credits), For Summer 2006 Semester
    (OT-123 Growth & Development II 2 Credits), For Summer 2006 Semester
    (OT-131 Psycho Social 3 Credits), For Summer 2006 Semester
    (OT-135 Substance Abuse Seminar 1 Credit), For Summer 2006 Semester
    (OT-175 OT Theory & Practice I 3 Credits). For Summer 2006 Semester

    As soon as I found out that my courses has been deleted, I contacted the Director of Occupational Therapy Program, Vera-Jean Clark Brown. Ms. Clark Brown told me that I should not see the professors in regard to my missing courses and grades instead, see Vladimir Rozin the main Registrar at the Manhattan Touro College Campus at 27-33 West 23 Street. She also told me, “You’re a nice guy I feel sorry for you.”
    During a meeting with the Registrar Vladimir Rozin I demanded that he return my courses and that I was discriminated by Professor Claire Daffner in addition to that, I have exams and paperwork to prove that I did attend those courses as well as have appeal letters where the courses are defined. He told me that it is the administration’s fault and that I should find my registration papers for these courses on my own. He also said to me, “You smell like a criminal”.

    Months later, I wanted to complete my Bachelor Degree, despite the fact that my grades were stolen from me. I met with Lacey Shaw an Adviser at Touro College, who told me that I will not be able to be accepted into Touro College and that I will be told the same thing by everyone including the Dean. But he gave me registration forms for courses to complete my Bachelor’s Degree. I went through the registration process twice and at the end I was told to see Vladimir Rozin who told me that I should have asked his permission before I began my admission and registration process. Rozin told me to go with him to see Middle States representative about my situation and was told by both of them that there is nothing they can do. The Representative told me to apply to Excelsior College and later on I sent my transcript to Excelsior College.

    Recently, I met with Dr. Bernard Lander president of Touro College and I respectfully requested that he give me a second chance at life and allow me to complete my Bachelor’s Degree.

    I contacted the Office of the President who told me to see Avery Horowitz, Associate Dean of Students for Advisement and Counseling. Mr. Avery Horowitz told me that I would be allowed to register for courses he even asked me about what degree which would I want to pursue. I told him Psychology or Liberal Arts. He told me it is okay and that I should see Sofia Volfson an Academic Adviser at Touro College Flatbush Ave J campus to register for courses. During my advisement with Ms Sofia Volfson I filled out registration papers for courses. I was even advised by her to sit in Experimental Psychology course while registration would process. I set in one class, but later she told loudly in the hallway, “I was set up, I couldn’t do anything!” She told me that I have a permanent Touro College hold. She even attempted to snatch away my student copy of registration papers for courses I signed up for. I felt frightened and left the building not knowing what to do next.

    Later, I wrote numerous appeals to President Bernard Lander, Allan Kadish Senior Provost, and to Office of the President asking them to give me a second chance to complete my Bachelor’s degree but I had no reply from them. Allan Kadish took over Touro College after Bernard Lander retired.

    Later, I contacted and reported these problems to the United Stated Department of Education Office for Civil Rights as well as the FBI, United States Students Association, CBS 2, NBC 4, ABC 7, WPIX 11, letting them know about the events that took place at Touro College and that my rights have been violated numerous times. U.S Department of Education Office for Civil Rights sent me a letter in mail stating that my request for Touro College investigation is denied and that my occupation of study is Physical Therapy and not Occupational Therapy. Office for Civil Rights dropped the investigation.

    I don’t know what to do next, I am afraid to go to jail.


    Michael Levin

  2. Touro College has undergraduate schools such as School of General Studies, New York School of Career and Applied Studies, as well as Lander College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of liberal Arts and Sciences etc… These are undergraduate Touro College’s sections within its college. If a student is awarded an Associate Degree or Bachelor Degree the transcript will reflect some courses they will not attend. This means that if a student wants to pursue education in another institution their credential will be questioned and most likely not accepted even though Touro College is Fully Accredited. Touro College’s undergraduate practices are fraudulent. Since courses are added which a student never attended.

    If a student with a Bachelor Degree from undergraduate Touro College decides to go for a degree in Touro Colleges graduate programs such as Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy; the student will never graduate the program because the Directors of the graduate programs are aware of Touro College’s undergraduate Degree granting fraud.

    Touro College’s Graduate programs likes students who received their degrees from other Colleges, such as City University of New York, or some Private Colleges and these student will most likely graduate and will most likely will pass the boards to obtain their licenses in their profession of study.