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Queens Chronicle

A call for action at Townsend Harris HS

PTA, students and lawmakers call for principal hiring process to be restarted

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Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2016 10:30 am

Townsend Harris High School’s Parent Teacher Association, students and lawmakers last Thursday called on the Department of Education to restart the principal hiring process at the institution, which is under the extremely unpopular leadership of Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda.

The PTA, which previously voted in support of “immediate removal” of Jahoda, went to the Panel for Educational Policy the night before.

“Our message was clear. Chancellor Fariña, we need action and we need action now. Townsend Harris is a crown jewel of the New York City school system,” PTA Co-president Susan Karlic said at a press conference outside the school. “It deserves a true visionary for a leader, someone who has the compassion for our children and the intellectual rigor to lead our faculty and students. Rosemarie Jahoda is simply not that person.”

Karlic added that Jahoda did not support the school’s Muslim Student Association after the presidential election, when Islamophobic remarks were made towards them.

“One student left her office in tears,” she said.

Complaints of abuse were made against Jahoda when she worked at the Bronx High School of Science, another top public high school.

“Virtually her entire department at Bronx Science filed grievances against her and an independent factfinder stated that she degraded and harassed her subordinates and recommended she be transferred out of the school,” Karlic said.

Representatives from the offices of Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) attended the press conference.

“Over the past month or so, my office has received numerous complaints from a number of these constituents who have voiced concern about the current atmosphere at Townsend Harris,” Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) said, adding that he has been in touch with faculty at the school. “I’m here today to support, again, the Townsend Harris community by requesting a new and transparent C-30 process as the Department of Education selects Townsend Harris’ next permanent principal.”

Weprin worked with interns from the school when he first ran for the City Council in 2001 and provided capital funds for it as a councilman.

The calls made by Weprin and Karlic were backed by the students.

“As someone who was personally targeted after the election, I brought up my grievances to Principal Jahoda,” Senior Class President Marina Aweeda said. “I personally did not feel like my grievances were addressed and my situation was dismissed. There was no public announcement, no public display of solidarity towards the students to show us she supported us.”

“We are listening to the feedback of the community and will move towards hiring a permanent principal at Townsend Harris in accordance with the Chancellor’s Regulations,” DOE spokesman Mantel Will told the Chronicle in an emailed statement.

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