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Sheldon Dempster, Principal

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J.H.S. 220 John J. Pershing

Location: 4812 9th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220

District: 20

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I am formerly a teacher at I.S. 220. I’m leaving after 6 years of experiencing my colleagues and myself receiving emotional abuse from our principal. It was a very difficult decision I had to make because my mental health is at stake, and I’m sad to leave such a wonderful group of colleagues and students. Unfortunately, I am one of many teachers leaving Pershing this year.

Our principal is openly disrespectful to staff that aren’t part of the staff he hired. He does not greet anyone who doesn’t fall in line with his “leadership”. He has occulted per session opportunities from the full staff. He has prevented staff from having access to everyone’s schedules to prevent everyone from being aware of how he gives preferential schedules to favored teachers. Oftentimes, those teachers who receive preferential treatment, don’t teach or are excused from class to “speak to the principal”, preventing students from instruction. At the beginning of every school, he says he doesn’t understand why people leave. Yet, at the end of every school year, since 3 years ago, has implored people to leave if they don’t like how things are, in a very nasty tone. So many fantastic teachers have left our school because of his narcissism, nepotism, inflexibility and unprofessionalism.

I fear for the future of Pershing. The constant turnover of teachers causes instability with the students. Teachers who are loved and passionate about their jobs get pushed away. Please help I.S. 220.


He favors some and ignores others. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to see a principal walk by and ignore certain teachers and then hug others? He has created nothing but a toxic, unhealthy environment. When will help arrive?


In the 5 years he had not afforded new mothers a lactation room (violation of a state law). He interferes with UFT business. He tells new teachers how he will take care of them and that they don’t need the chapter leader. He doesn’t respond to teacher’s emails. Seems like he makes up his own hours (is he in the building?). Spends excessive money on teacher’s desks, paint, stickers for doors, tv’s for the hallway, a fish tank in the main office, and area rugs with the school logo on them. He intimates and bullies staff members and constantly tells us to “leave”! He has 6 AP’s but excesses teachers. He sits in his office watching the cameras to “catch” teachers. He calls last minute staff meeting that go beyond the school day and yells at us if we call him on it. There is no communication, the children know things before the teachers do. If you don’t think he’s the greatest, you we suffer the consequences.


Does not want imput from effective,experienced educators instead dictates policies stating “ non- negotiable”.Plays “favorites”,creates an uncomfortable and threatening environment.Disrespectful and arrogant approach often resulting in foolish decisions which negatively impacts our entire school community.


Mr. Dempster uses retaliation and doesn’t even try to hide it. It is very apparent. He uses it against school aides, teachers, and secretaries. In the case of his APs, yes he uses it there too but not to all of them. He has 6 APs. He hired 4 of them as teachers from his previous school and scoring site. Yes student enrollment decreased and teachers were excessed, but he hired his 6th AP in June 2021 during a pandemic. Not to change topics but, why are all 6 APs women???

If the DOE wants us to teach social emotional learning for our students’ well-being, maybe it should apply to us too. The principal needs a PD on SEL practices. As teachers we should be able to report to work and not be afraid of what will happen to us today. We want to know that if we talk to someone that he doesn’t like and he sees it on camera (he is always watching from his office – great use of time) that we won’t get our classroom changed or program changed or denied per session opportunities.

We can go on and on about Mr. Dempster, but the real problem is that he can do whatever he wants without repercussions thanks to the District 20 Central Office.

Where are you Superintended David Pretto?????

Here is a figure for the Superintendent

Thus far 23 teachers have open market transferred to other DOE schools under Mr. Dempster’s principalship. This 23 does not include teachers who moved out of state or left the profession or retirement. They are teaching at other schools in the DOE. Out of these 23 transfers NINE went to other schools in District 20!

Superintendent Pretto – wherever you are….Look at this data! You are this man’s supervisor!
Interpret, draw an inference or you could do what superintendents are supposed to do when they see this and conduct EXIT INTERVIEWS!

Help us by holding him accountable please.


Mr. Dempster does not possess the qualities it takes to be a school building leader. Mr. Dempster is extremely toxic, hostile, and retaliatory. Mr. Dempster has created a hostile working environment of fear. He encourages the mean girls to inform him of information from the staff and UFT meetings. He mocks and makes fun of staff members during consultation meeting minutes in which he says that both he and Superintendent David Pretto laugh at the letters that staff members send to him when they voice their valid concerns regarding the inequity, injustices, and lack of safety of the building. He claims he is “for the children” but often at times can be seen ignoring students when they want to say hello to him. He makes the majority of staff members feel uncomfortable by hugging and greeting some, and ignoring and looking the other way at others. Many staff members fear retaliation from administration because it has happened to them in the past. It is an extremely uncomfortable and toxic working environment. During consultation meetings, these issues are brought up to the administration and he simply responds by saying, “Next question.” Why is it okay for the leader of the building to not respond to valid concerns of the staff? Mr. Dempster hand selects staff members to receive per session when there is no posting. How is this equitable? He often states during staff meetings that if he is not our “cup of tea”, then we should go find another school to work at. What ever happened to professionalism? In fact, the day of the Sunset Park subway shooting which caused our school to enter into a lockdown, he said at the end of the day during a staff meeting that there are 1,800 NYC DOE schools and we should go pick a different one. Is this legal? How is the leader of the building allowed to say this to the staff members on a day when many of us were worried about our students, colleagues, friends, and family members? The way he addressed the school yesterday with a lack of empathy made many people even more anxious than they already were. How is this attitude going to help move the students in the direction they need to succeed? When is something going to be done about this?

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