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Historic Brooklyn school fires athletics director for ‘unprofessional behavior’

October 26, 2021 Mary Frost
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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. 

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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. 

Packer Collegiate Institute, a well-known prestigious private school in Brooklyn Heights. Wikimedia photo by Beyond My Ken

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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  1. Timothy Dwyer

    I have no inside knowledge of the events that led to his dismissal, but as the parent of a female student at Packer, I am very sorry to see this happen. And I am very sorry to see this nasty, one-sided slash piece by a lazy reporter who paints such an ugly picture with anonymous sources and innuendo.

    Every story has two sides, and the picture you paint of Darrin is nothing like the man we know. You add no new facts beyond what the school has publicly stated, and this article adds nothing to our understanding. This sentence — “One former student said Fallick’s expulsion was a welcome move towards dislodging entrenched attitudes of sexism and racism at Packer” — is particularly odious, ill-informed, and off-base. Shame on you Mary Frost.

    Journalism is more than simply finding a few people who have mean things to say anonymously. You should know better. You would not have had to try to hard to find many parents and students who view Darrin as a talented educator, a dedicated coach, and someone who cares deeply about each student. Many of us will truly miss him. He deserves better than this.

    • Mary Stephan Madsen

      Couldn’t agree more. I expected Mary Frost to be a 22 year old reporter and was surprised to “google” and see she is an experienced journalist. Smearing someone like this is completely uncalled for and unprofessional. Must’ve been a slow news day in the Heights, too bad they have to fill their paper with articles like this. Fortunately for Darrin very few read it.

    • Heightsman

      why the personal attack on the reporter, calling her lazy? If the allegations of inappropriate touching are true (an you don’t claim they’re not) are you still sorry? Packer most probably wouldn’t have taken action without some evidence don’t you think? (they would be open to legal action if so) So what is it, you don’t believe there is evidence that he did it, or you just don’t care?

      • Timothy Dwyer

        You prove my point. The allegations, from an anonymous source, are about “rumors of handsiness.” What exactly is “handsiness?” I bet each of us would have a different definition. That’s awful thin basis upon which to publicly ruin a man’s life.

        Journalism is not simply repeating salacious rumors, or in this case, rumors about rumors.