A row at one of Brooklyn’s most elite preschools over a pushy, Instagram-loving director who was fired last year after allegedly fawning over celebrity parents and turning beloved, annual events into ‘mini Met galas’ has been exposed.
Amy Morgano was the director of the Grace Church School in Brooklyn Heights from 2015 until earlier this year when she was pushed out after three years of in-fighting with staff and parents.
The school commands fees of up to $24,000-a-year for children under the age of five.
According to some families who spoke anonymously to The Cut to expose the pre-school scandal, she favored celebrity parents including Maggie Gyllenhaal and JJ Redick’s wife Chelsea.
They say that despite claiming to be from ‘real Brooklyn’, Morgano was eager to social climb and overshared on social media whenever there was a problem at the school, once even quoting Tupac.
Among her worst offenses, they said, was transforming the school’s beloved biannual Gala and Auction into a mini Met Gala created by the Vogue editors who make the real thing.
To promote the event, Morgano invoked the anti-sexual harassment hashtag Time’sUp to ask parents for silent auctions goods, writing: ‘The gala is now less than three months away and we are finalizing our live and silent auction items.
‘We still have space for a handful of exceptional, mind-blowing items (think villa in Italy for a week!), and we know you’ve been waiting until now to send us your best offers. Please please please don’t wait any longer! #Time’sUp!’
She replaced the long-serving director, Hope Prosky, in 2015.
Prosky, according to the parents and teachers interviewed by The Cut, valued discretion.
While she was not impressed by celebrities – she once reportedly asked Paul Giamatti if he was related to ‘the president of Yale’ – she was in awe of political heavyweights and once chased down a Roosevelt.
When Morgano took over, teachers and staff at the school who had become accustomed to its gentle, ‘bubble bath’ like approach said they were taken aback by her desire to change things up so drastically.
Among their grievances was that she banned faculty and parents from socializing at ‘pot luck dinners’, they claimed, because she told them it was inappropriate.
The parents and staff were therefore surprised when she befriended JJ Redick’s wife Chelsea and seemed to break her fraternizing rule with by spending time with her and posting it on social media.
The family’s children had been squeezed in to the school mid-year. Redick plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
She also seemed enamored with other high profile parents whose children were students.
Parents had noticed her giving special attention to actress Keri Hill, for example.
One complained about an evening where they had gone in the hopes of meeting her.
‘There was a night to meet her, and she only talked to Maggie Gyllenhaal,’ they told The Cut anonymously.
Morgano so favored Redick that at an evening where parents had been invited to discuss the ‘stressful’ process of getting their child into kindergarten, she told Redick: ‘You don’t have to worry about that,’ when a former parent advised the room to consult with their spouses ahead of time when clearing their calendars to make themselves available for interviews.
After a books and toys fair where parents sipped wine and items were sold for three times as much as the previous year, Morgano posted a photograph on Instagram of Redick straddling a tall stuffed giraffe writing: ‘What happens at GCS stays at GCS.’
Aside from inspiring gossip among parents, Morgano was blamed for firing some of the school’s long-serving staff members.
Among them was a librarian who said she was unceremoniously turfed out.
The other was a teacher who said she received similar treatment.
The teacher wept at Goodbye Day, the final day of term, and blurted out that she would not be returning the following year. She had been told, she said, that she was cold towards the children and favored ‘complacent’ three-year-olds over three-year-olds who worked hard.
She was also told one of the reasons for her being fired was that she had refused to give Maggie Gyllenhaal’s husband Peter Sarsgaard a separate parent-teacher conference after he’d missed the first one due to work.
Eventually, the disgruntled teachers and concerned parents voiced their concerns to the school’s new rector and in January this year, she was fired.
According to The Cut, she balked when she opened her termination letter to find she had been paid out only $10,000.
Morgano claims she was not given a reason and has hired a lawyer to fight her case.
The lawyer did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries but he told The Cut: ‘Ms. Morgano has been the director of three different pre-schools and an early childhood educator for 25 years.
‘She took over a struggling Grace Church School and in a short time built it into the prestigious school it is today.
‘The way she is treated was shameful and we look forward to vindicating her legal rights and her reputation.’
Grace Church School has now instated a new director who is the parent of a former student.
The row lifts a lid on the world of New York’s highly competitive world of private schools.