Brooklyn teacher racks up $78,000 in overtime and back pay
Colleagues dubbed him the “Prince of Per Session.”
Anirudh Singh, a special education science teacher at MS 88 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, racked up almost $80,000 in extra pay last school year on top of his $130,000 salary – the highest extracurricular pay of any city teacher according to a Daily News analysis of city data – and angry coworkers are saying it doesn’t add up.
“It’s out of control,” said one who teacher who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
“It’s a lack of supervision from the principal. This is a Title I school and the money’s not going where it’s supposed to,” the teacher added.
Education Department officials said Singh recorded about 1,100 hours of overtime, or “per session” work last year, an average of about four hours a day every week day for the entire year, including summer. That accounts for about $57,000 of his overtime pay at a rate of about $52 an hour — another $20,000 came from a one-time back payment according to city officials.
Education Department spokeswoman Danielle Filson said “we appreciate Mr. Singh’s dedication,” but “are concerned about this amount of overtime payment and will review it.”
The office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations recently opened a probe into the school’s finances, including Singh’s overtime pay, The News confirmed.
According to an analysis of city payroll data compiled by the transparency group Empire Center, only five Education Department employees made more in “per session” pay from July 2018 through June 2019 than Singh – all were doctors employed by the agency.
Contacted by The News, Singh said it seemed “ridiculously impossible," but defended his long hours as a result of being the school’s scheduler, a part-time teacher, overseeing afterschool programs, and coming in on weekends and during the summer.
Other teachers at his school scoffed at his claims.
“I never see him staying with kids” after school, one teacher said.
A copy of Singh’s schedule for the 2018-19 school year reviewed by The News showed him teaching three out of eight periods a day, with the others devoted to scheduling, overseeing lunch, and coordinating coverage for missing teachers, as well as leading “senior activities” and a prep period.
Programmers, responsible for scheduling and coordinating substitute teachers, often earn high “per session” hours, especially when teaching classes on top.
But multiple sources said Singh’s pay was way out of whack.
Teachers must submit an application to the principal to take on paid overtime work like coaching, supervising activities, or scheduling. Teachers record their own hours, which are approved by a principal. Principals are required to submit waiver with an explanation when overtime hours exceed the department limit of 400 — a number Singh almost tripled.
Education Department officials confirmed M.S. 88 Principal Ailene Altman-Mitchell turned in the waivers for Singh, but didn’t provide the documents.
Singh’s colleagues said they’re tired of “busting their asses” for far less pay.
With the chunk it pays Singh in overtime, one teacher said, the school could hire another teacher.