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Queens Chronicle

Principal at FHHS goes up in smoke

Ben Sherman resigns after months of complaints from teachers

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2019 10:30 am

Ben Sherman is out as the principal at Forest Hills High School.

Unpopular with the overwhelming majority of the teachers in the building, Sherman resigned on Monday afternoon.

“While I love Forest Hills very much, I must inform you with a heavy heart that I have decided to transition to another leadership role,” he wrote in a letter. “It has been a pleasure to work with you for the past two years and I am confident that Forest Hills will continue to grow and develop.”

Teachers were concerned about fights and drug usage in the school and in February UFT members voted no confidence in Sherman by a 195-21 margin. He had been the principal since early 2017.

“I think the school can begin to recover and get back its standing,” one teacher told the Chronicle Tuesday. “It’s been a very, very long two years plus.”

The teacher added, “This was such an overwhelming condemnation of what he had done.”

According to the New York Post, Sherman will now work at DOE headquarters in Manhattan, in the Office of the First Deputy Chancellor.

“This is a major victory,” the teacher said of Sherman’s departure. “Not really for us but the students, for the school, for its reputation. Let’s get back what we lost temporarily.”

Sherman had a lax attitude toward students smoking marijuana in the school and allegedly made comments including, “The bigger the hoop the bigger the ho,” in reference to a girl wearing large hoop earrings and asked a student selling snacks for a fundraiser, “Are you selling handguns, I’d like to buy a Glock.”

There had been a protest planned by staff for later in the week outside the school. One teacher, James Hogue, believes Sherman was aware of the plan.

Several months ago, Sean Davenport, former principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy, was named as supervising superintendent to oversee daily operations at the school. Sherman reported directly to Davenport, who reported directly to Executive Superintendent Andre Spencer.

Hogue said there was some thought that Sherman might remain in place with tightened supervision.

“We wouldn’t have been surprised had he been back in the fall,” he said.

Hogue also said he was “very surprised [DOE officials] didn’t dig in their heels more” when it came to fielding complaints about the beleaguered principal.

“You’re always doubtful when anybody’s investigating themselves ... until you see confirmation and some kind of result you could react to, you really don’t know what’s happening.”

In March, a number of elected officials went to the school to meet with teachers and listen to the complaints.

When asked whether or not Sherman would be removed, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) told the Chronicle, “If all these stories are true, I think he should be.”

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