Gateway students protest principal 1

Students rallied outside Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School before classes last Friday. Principal Judy Henry, now in her second year at the school, has been under increasingly heavy criticism from parents and students since taking over.

Back in April, parent, teacher and student representatives from the Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School sent a pointed four-page letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina regarding the hiring and job performance of newly assigned principal Judy Henry.

On Sept. 12, dozens of students took to the street outside the Hillcrest school, joined by a handful of parents of current and former Queens Gateway students.

The April letter accused High School Superintendent Juan Mendez of a conflict of interest in appointing Henry, who had listed him as her professional reference.

The letter and parents present at the protest also accused Henry of exercising favoritism and intimidation toward both faculty and students in her operation of the school.

Mendez’s office did not respond to an email from the Chronicle that it had requested when asked for comment, and the paper was unable to reach Henry.

David Aronov, who was the student government president last year, now attends Hunter College, where he is taking pre-med studies.

He said Henry was ranked fourth by a so-called C-30 search committee that interviewed five candidates for the principal’s position, but was appointed by Mendez anyway.

Derek Braithwaite, the parent of former students, and Aronov said Henry immediately began eliminating programs and activities that had made the school a destination choice for students in the past.

“She took $200,000 from the activities budget and hired personnel that were not needed,” Braithwaite said.

Aranov said there is no longer a working partnership with Queens Hospital, where students would do some practical medical-related studies.

“This school is supposed to be for students interested in medical careers,” Aronov said. “Now we don’t have that.”

One parent, whose children in the past loved the school, declined to give his name out of fear that one of his children still attending might face retribution.

Braithwaite said students have felt Henry’s wrath before, citing a girl last year who was an A student but pulled out of a journalism class and told she would not pass and might not graduate.

“She wrote an article that was critical of the school,” Braithwaite said. He said PTA officials and others were able to intervene on the student’s behalf.

Harry Hartfield, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, in an email sent Monday, said the situation is being monitored.

“We are committed to listening to the opinions and concerns of all members of the school community, including students, parents and teachers,” Hartfield said.

“We will continue to work closely with the community to ensure that our schools are providing supportive classrooms and high-quality education for all of our students,” he added.

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