Historic Brooklyn school fires athletics director for ‘unprofessional behavior’
The Packer Collegiate Institute, a 175-year-old prestigious private school in Brooklyn Heights, announced on Tuesday it had fired the school’s Athletics Director and Class of 2023 Dean Darrin Fallick for “unprofessional behavior.” His dismissal was effective immediately.
A Packer source told the Brooklyn Eagle that the move follows allegations of sexual harassment of female colleagues, including inappropriate touching, but the school would not confirm that.
In a letter sent to Packer families, staff and alumni, Packer’s Head of School Dr. Jennifer Weyburn wrote, “We recently received reports of unprofessional behavior by Darrin toward colleagues. Following an investigation and some reflection on what is in the best interests of our community, we have made the decision that Darrin will be moving on from Packer, effective today.”
Weyburn wrote that Packer anticipated that the impact of this news would be “deeply felt by many across the school,” especially the 11th grade class, for whom Fallick has also served as dean.
School administrators were speaking about the move with Packer’s Upper School students on Tuesday, the letter said. Weyburn urged parents of middle school children to use their discretion as to whether to share the news with them.
“Our health and wellness team is prepared to provide support to both our students and our professionals,” she wrote.
Karin Storm Wood, Packer’s director of communications, told the Eagle that Fallick’s expulsion was due to “a personnel issue related to unprofessional behavior toward colleagues.” She added, “In the interest of the people involved and our community, we do not plan to release any further information.”
However, talk had been circulating for some time about Fallick’s “handsiness” toward female colleagues, according to a Packer source.
Fallick declined to comment to the Eagle. Faculty members also declined to comment on Fallick’s expulsion.
Fallick was hired by Packer in 2010 and ran into controversy from the beginning. Soon after his arrival, Fallick redesigned the Packer Pelican mascot by plagiarizing the University of Miami’s “Sebastian the Ibis” mascot, according to the November 2010 edition of The Packer Prism, the school’s student newspaper.
He sent the university’s logo to a printer with instructions to replace the Miami logo with a “P,” remove the hat and change the shape of the bill, according to the article. The new mascot was printed on $2,000 worth of merchandise, which was given away to students at sporting events. The university soon thereafter informed Packer that it must stop printing the logo and destroy all the merchandise.
According to community members, Fallick has not been seen at Packer since the week before Columbus Day. His name, photo and contact information have been removed from the school’s website.
According to Form 990 filings made available by ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer, Fallick earned $168,399.
Weyburn said that Packer has “taken steps to ensure a smooth transfer of Darrin’s responsibilities.” Physical Education Department Chair Russell Tombline will temporarily lead the athletic program until the school appoints an interim athletic director and launches a search for a permanent replacement. Jeremy Hawkins, a member of the Health and Wellness Team, will serve as the new dean of the Class of 2023.
One former student said Fallick’s expulsion was a welcome move towards dislodging entrenched attitudes of sexism and racism at Packer. The student spoke positively about the school’s recent initiatives to afford greater rights to women and people of color as Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing. Under Weyburn, Packer has developed a 12-month anti-racist road map, which it is currently implementing.
Weyburn took the helm at Packer as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. She was chosen to replace former Head of School, Dr. Bruce Dennis in July 2019, and Dennis stepped down the following summer. Weyburn was previously the head of school of the Copenhagen International School, a 970-student, K-12 school in Copenhagen, Denmark — though one of her earliest teaching positions was at Saint Ann’s School, also in Brooklyn Heights.
The Packer Pelicans “regularly reach the season, tournament, and state championships in numerous different sports,” according to the school’s website. The school competes in the Athletic Association of Independent Schools, Athletic Conference of Independent Schools (ACIS), and the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (NYSAIS). In the 2017-18 year (pre-COVID), Packer won 23 championships and had 8 undefeated ACIS seasons, according to the school’s website. Ten teams competed in NYSAIS tournaments, including Ethan Ng ’18, the NYSAIS golf champion.
Packer was founded in 1845 as The Brooklyn Female Academy, at a time when Brooklyn was still rural. Girls were joined by boys in 1972. While once serving mostly local students, in recent years it joined the ranks of elite private schools sought out by families from Manhattan as well as Brooklyn. It was the set of the television show “Gossip Girl.”
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