By Nick Stamatakis
Of all the abuses of rights and all the violations of the law for non-profit corporations that I have been reporting for a whole year regarding the St. Demetrios of Astoria School, nothing was more repulsive than the cases where the lives of children were touched, the lives of the students of the St. Demetrios School. A few weeks ago, I published part of a letter of an alumnus, who reported that A.Koularmanis, the school principal, had stolen the money, a few thousand dollars, the 12th graders had collected from bake sales for their projects! And that he had done the same in years past!!
But the most offensive case of student abuse during last year happened in mid-August, when the principal Koularmanis, refused to register for the upcoming school year the two children of a Parish Council member; this Parish Council member was also an alumnus of the St.Demetrios School and served simultaneously as an executive committee member and a school board member! Both children were exceptional students with grades in the high 90s! How could anyone cause such harm to young students without any reason at all? Koularmanis offered no serious explanation at that time. But even if he could have any pretense of a “good reason”, he never bothered to inform the family in writing and in a timely manner. This was the minimum of their rights, so that they have enough time to find another school for their children… How is this despicable behavior as an example of “professionalism” by Koularmanis?
In the days and weeks that followed I raised the issue in my writings. I even connected with Koularmanis via email – he was the one who initiated “annoyed” by my reporting… He changed his story at least three times in a series of 4-5 emails, proving that he was trying to evade the truth. What was the truth then? The truth was that this Parish Council member, whose kids were denied registration, opposed Andriotis and Koularmanis, in their efforts to convert the School to a charter school and take it away from the community.
The issue of turning the School to a charter school had caused great tension in executive committee meetings and school board meetings – and it was directly related to the denial of registration for the two children. The role of the principal, Koularmanis, who badly wanted to pursue the conversion to a charter school for personal reasons (probably expecting to double his already high salary – charter schools set no salary caps), came under question. His multiple ethics violations, his mishandling of money and his other abuses made many parish council members to suggest his firing…
Andriotis could not lose his grip over the community when educated professionals wanted to break the cycle of corrupt practices that had plagued the School and Community for decades. Andriotis resorted to threatening the Parish Council member’s professional license if he did not “get in line.” What could be a good reason for denying two excellent students from registering? Why such a serious decision that could traumatize two children was made without a meeting of the School Board and without even informing its members? Or better yet, the parents? Just because a Parish Council member simply disagreed, voiced his opinion, and voted against them?
In a meeting the Parish Council member and his wife had with, among others, Andriotis, Koularmanis and Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, the presiding priest of Astoria, to address numerous instances of retribution against the Parish Council member’s children, Andriotis threatened the parents that he would “Get rid of the children from the School, before Koularmanis would be fired.” In that meeting, Koularmanis admitted that he punished the children more severely because the father was a Parish Council member and on the School Board.
Should we remind everyone that this is a parochial school and all conflicts should be resolved in the spirit of Christianity, with love and forgiveness? Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, was fully informed of Andriotis’ vengeful decision and, instead of raising his voice, he sat there idly, not daring to oppose the “Godfather”… Fr. Nektarios had the authority to intervene and demand, at the minimum, a school board meeting or even an executive committee meeting. He dared not oppose Andriotis AT ALL and allowed two young children to be emotionally harmed. It was rumored that Fr.Nektarios was afraid that his bid to become a Bishop would be ended, as Andriotis could make one phone call to the Archbishop to derail Father Nektarios’s ambitions. The plan was simple: attack the children so that the Parish Council member is no longer an obstacle to the “mafia duo”, Andriotis and Koularmanis, in regaining their full control of the Parish Council. Yes, this was their true goal, to force the parents to get out of the community by not registering their kids… And in so doing, reduce the majority of their opposition in the Parish Council and get rid of one of a dissenting voice.
And how did the President of the Parish Council, Emmanuel Dritsas, act in the face of this crime against children? Inaction and ineptitude for fear that he would fall out of favor with Andriotis. And how did the Chairman of the School Board, Fotios Papamichael, react when no official decision was made by the School Board or Parish Council? Indifference, so that he did not offend his relative and employer at Alma Realty (Andriotis). What would you expect from “Archons” Andriotis and Papamichael – they stick together!
This “mafioso” behavior is a small example of what Andriotis has been doing in Astoria for the past 45 years. Threatening, blackmailing and enacting his blackmails against teachers, parents, children and anybody else who would stand in his way… A few months ago, the former principal of the Afternoon School was transferred to the elementary school in a vastly lesser role. And there are more examples of teachers being threatened and also students being abused by the “duo” Andriotis – Koularmanis… The “Godfather” did not know of any other way… And he did not hesitate one moment to act on these threats, even if the issue was affecting innocent children…
By the same token, this is the real character of the man, Koularmanis, whom Bishop Apostolos (Koufalakis), obviously in close cooperation with Andriotis, proposed to the new AB Elpidophoros (without any formal application process!) to appoint as the new director of Education at the Archdiocese!… Could someone explain to us why Bishop Apostolos is acting as a true satrap or, at best, as the “third Archbishop” of GOA? Don’t we have enough problems by having two archbishops already?
Is this the “model of leadership” that AB Elpidophoros wants to project on the Greek American community, as an example of the “hopeful” new era introduced with his enthronement?