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Far Rockaway Principal Blasts Investigation Into Alleged Tardiness

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Far Rockaway principal accused by the Department of Education of often being absent or late to work has fired back after a Queens councilman called for her to be fired.

A report released on Tuesday by Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation, said P.S. 106 elementary school principal Marcella Sills should be fired from her job and banned from working for the DOE.

The investigation found she regularly arrived at the school between 9 a.m. and noon. The report says Sills maintained she arrived between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. daily.

The report, however, cites nine witnesses swearing to Sills’ routine tardiness, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.

It also found that she would ask a custodian to let her in through a side door and quotes school safety agent Bonita Holmes saying Sills was “late more often than not.”

Sills’ lawyers sent CBS 2 a statement blasting the investigation saying, “Ms. Sills maintains her innocence…allegations in the papers are not true.”

The lawyer’s statement explains why Sills refuses to comment on the case. “Ms. Sills is presently unavailable for comment as she is with her mother who is in a coma.”

It also paints a pitying picture of Sills’ own home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and moves from one apartment to another, Carlin reported.

Sills has been re-assigned during the investigation, but Councilman Donovan Richards said that’s not enough.

“This whole fiasco has been a distraction for the students of this school,” Richards said. “It has brought down the morale of the institution and it has also been an embarrassment to this community.”

Going forward, Richards said the school system needs a better way of tracking principals. He also called for the DOE to create an anonymous tip line for parents and school staff to report misconduct.

A DOE spokesman said the report’s findings are disturbing and the schools will act on it, but declines to say when.

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