Principal appointment process postponed, committee members feel alienated

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The C-30 Level 1 Committee meeting that was central to permanently appointing Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda has been postponed, with few members involved in the process understanding why the postponement happened or knowing when the meeting will be rescheduled.

Chancellor’s Regulation 30 sets the framework for the official process of selection and appointment of principals and assistant principals.  The regulation states that this process “is intended to ensure that the supervisory selection process is equitable and based on principles of merit and fitness.”  According to the regulation, all candidates in the Principal Candidate Pool are to be interviewed by a Level 1 Committee composed of a mixture of UFT members, students, parents, an administrator, and a representative from DC37 (the union for school support staff).

Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro claimed that the Level 1 Committee was “postponed because the preparation for the C-30 was not in compliance with the Chancellor’s regulations.”  She had “no idea when it will be rescheduled for.”

Field Support Liaison for the Superintendent’s office A. Rashaun Banjo commented that the postponed C-30 “was a central decision that was passed down to me.  I have been informed that a departmental investigation will be conducted.   I can’t really speak to the specifics [of the investigation].”

Various members that will serve in the Level 1 Committee have expressed that they feel alienated from the C-30 process.  

Paul Sforza, the representative from the DC37 who will serve on the Level 1 Committee stated, “We haven’t been told any updated information as to when it has been rescheduled for.  I don’t recall a reason as to why.  It’s all being done very secretively.”  

He continued to express the frustration of the school support staff, adding, “Speaking on behalf of all the DC37 workers, no one really interacts with [the principal] at all.  We had a more open relationship with past principals where we would be able to freely see the principal to discuss any issues and concerns.  That is something we don’t have anymore.”

Principal Rosemarie Jahoda refused to comment on Mr. Sforza’s statement saying, “I’m not going to comment on hearsay.”

Senior SLT Caitlin Cassidy explained, “There are some rumors as to why the C-30 was postponed but it’s all hearsay and it’s nothing I can confirm.”

UFT Chapter Leader Franco Scardino expressed concern that “not only was there no reason for the postponement, but there is no timetable to resume the process. The spirit of collaboration that has for years existed between the teachers, the chapter leader, and the school principal has been diminished to an unrecognizable state. I would characterize our relationship as almost nonexistent in terms of communication.”

Ms. Jahoda refused to comment on Mr. Scardino’s statement as well, deeming it “hearsay.”

Co-President of the PTA Susan Karlic stated, “The SLT and PTA and its membership need to be informed and involved so that we can ensure a certain atmosphere we want for our kids.  The ultimate goal is to get the best principal for our students and the school.”

Student Union President Alex Chen assured, “[SLT] Caitlin [Cassidy] and I will both be present to expound the concerns of the student body, but we need to have the C-30 and more discussions [with the principal] in order for student voices to be heard, which is not happening right now.”

The vacancy posting for Principal of Townsend Harris High School remained open on the Department of Education website for two weeks, from September 15 through September 30.  The applicants in the Principal Candidate Pool that submitted to the posting are to be interviewed by a Level 1 Committee.  Each candidate must be given the same amount of time to answer the same questions asked in the same order. Each member of the Committee is then required to fill out a rating sheet to evaluate every candidate and to discuss the merits of each applicant interviewed.  Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro confirmed that there were seven total candidates that were selected from the pool of applicants to the THHS Principal’s posting that will be interviewed by the Level 1 Committee.

An anonymous PTA member stated, “the higher-ups aren’t giving us a reason” for the postponement. The member speculated “I think it’s very likely the C-30 was delayed due to the petition that surfaced last week.”

A petition released on December 5 has been filed on change.org by an individual titled “Stop Jahoda” and has currently garnered over 3,000 signatures from various alumni, past teachers, and current students.  The petition aims to ensure that the Department of Education does not select the current interim acting principal, Rosemarie Jahoda, as the permanent principal of Townsend Harris High School.

The petition has been addressed to various people such as New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Superintendent of Queens High Schools Elaine Lindsey, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Executive Superintendent of Family Engagement Yolanda Torres, NYC Councilmember Rory Lancman, NYS Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, and Mayor de Blasio.

As of December 8, Deputy Superintendent Pineiro stated, “I have not looked at the petition so I couldn’t comment about it.  I haven’t read it.”  As of December 12, Ms. Jahoda claimed that she has not read the petition nor does she plan on reading it.

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