July 3, 2016
Rabbi Francis settled into New Haven, CT, about 6 years ago. He was hired as the principal of the largest Orthodox Jewish day school in Connecticut, the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy. He was featured in a recent article in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, as a “mover and shaker” in the Jewish community. This is what the CEO of the New Haven Jewish Federation, Sidney Perry, said about Rabbi Francis to the Jewish Ledger: “If you ever doubt that a teacher can change a student’s life, come meet Rabbi Enan Francis, he hasn’t made a difference for just one of his pupils, Rabbi Francis has truly turned Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy into an exciting educational environment for every one of the 230 students in the school. He is a gifted pedagogue, a recipient of several degrees in education, and is presently undertaking yet another Master’s degree in special education. Blessed with a dynamic personality, Rabbi Francis is a successful principal in substance and style. One admires the way he puts first principles foremost for the students, teachers and the families.”
Larry Noodles interviewed numerous parents who send their children to the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy. Larry Noodles, who is cynical by nature, could not get one parent to say anything negative about Rabbi Francis. In fact, parents are very upset that Rabbi Francis was fired for no apparent reason. But they can’t speak out, lest the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy raises their kid’s tuition bill. Nobody at the Jewish Ledger is writing articles about the firing of Rabbi Francis. Sidney Perry isn’t saying anything. Larry Noodles is the lone voice to speak out against the injustices in the world.
Rabbi Francis was fired a few months ago just after Passover. He was told he will not have a job in the fall of 2016. That didn’t leave him with any time to find another job. He is going to have to wait out a entire academic year before he gets another job in teaching. He left a lucrative public teaching career in the New York public school system to come to New Haven to teach Jewish children. Now he will be lucky if he collects unemployment. He has no recourse. Under Connecticut employment law, he was “an employee at will.” He could be hired or fired at the will of his employer. If he had a job in the New York Public School system he would be protected by the union and could only be terminated “for just cause.” Plus he would have accumulated pension and retirement benefits, and got periodic pay increases.
There was no “just cause” to terminate Rabbi Francis. The only reason he was terminated is because the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy is run like a dictatorship. Many small private schools, Jewish and non-Jewish, are run like dictatorships. “Dictatorship” is defined by Websters as “autocratic rule, a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique, a government organization or group in which absolute power is so concentrated, a despotic state.” There are some private Jewish day schools that are run more democratically, like the Jewish day school in Waterbury. Teachers work for free but get free tuition for their kids, with bonus Shoprite bucks. Everyone works together to raise money for an organization they feel they are all part of.
Less than two years ago the Jewish Ledger quoted the dictators at the Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy: “We saw in Rabbi Francis a young person who could bring some fresh new experience and outlook to the school, which was very important to us, as well as someone educated at Yeshiva University with a strong knowledge of both secular and Judaic studies, Francis embodies the educational mission of the school, serving as a tireless ambassador in the Jewish community. He is very personable and knowledgeable and consistently fosters the idea of parents, teachers, and administrators working together.”
What has changed in less than two academic years that it now became necessary to fire Rabbi Francis? The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.