Executive board meeting between IA Principal Jahoda and teachers leaves participants unsatisfied

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Written By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief

Additional Reporting by Rabia Hasan, News Editor

Last Friday, an Executive Board meeting was held with Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda. At Executive Board meetings, teachers from various departments gather to address issues related to the school with the principal. At December’s meeting, the Board walked out on Ms. Jahoda, citing her choice to bring Assistant Principals to the meeting despite the disapproval of the the teachers (who set the meeting’s agenda). Many participants at this month’s session were dissatisfied with the turnout of the meeting, describing it as “uncomfortable” after the members questioned Ms. Jahoda about plans to address recent controversies.

The Board began the discussion with school atmosphere and tone. When asked about the current situation and if there were any plans for moving forward, Ms. Jahoda reportedly had no comment. Dean Robin Figelman added that “[Ms. Jahoda] never took a stance on how she was going to help change the school tone.”

We obtained the meeting’s minutes (see below), which documented the conversation between the Executive Board and Ms. Jahoda. United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Queens Borough Office representative James Vasquez, who was also present, added that the board was trying to address certain topics, but said that it was “unfortunate [that Ms. Jahoda said she has no comment] as we [the board] can’t force her to talk.”

According to the minutes of the meeting, “James Vasquez asked ‘As a new administrator, do you not feel it is important to win over all of your constituencies?’  Principal Jahoda replied ‘Absolutely. Again, I do not have to defend myself here and the steps I’m going to take.’”

To this, the minutes state that James Vasquez replied, “‘I don’t know how a school can continue to work with a Principal who will not address this situation.’” Principal Jahoda responded with no comment.  

Other topics at hand included an update on matters and concerns from the last October meeting, the recent controversy surrounding Ms. Jahoda’s remarks about UFT Chapter Leader and Social Studies teacher Franco Scardino (as reported in The Classic.) In regards to these concerns, Mr. Scardino remarked, “[She had] no comment on hostility against me personally, no comment on school atmosphere or school tone, no comment about her vision going forward.”

According to the minutes, Mr. Scardino said “that there is a sense of hostility from Rosemarie Jahoda towards him and towards the Union Membership”; they list Ms. Jahoda’s response as “‘I disagree with your claim and I have nothing more to say about it.’”

English and Instructional Support Services teacher Georgia Brandeis was at the meeting and stated, “I don’t think the meeting accomplished anything. I was hoping it would go better. Many of us are genuinely interested in the principal’s ideas for positive change.”

Ms. Figelman similarly expressed, “The meeting was a waste of a time. I think it was very uncomfortable.” At the meeting, she brought up the issue with the cell phone policy and continued, “I said a lot of kids are being disrespectful and insubordinate [and] that I don’t really get a lot of help here. I said the administration isn’t supporting me and helping me keep the rules intact.”

In the minutes, Ms. Jahoda asked Ms. Figelman how the problem should be solved, to which Ms. Figelman replied, “‘More help from the APs, by walking in the hallways.’” Ultimately, Ms. Jahoda decided to raise the issue at the faculty meeting held earlier today.  

On discipline as a whole under Ms. Jahoda, the dean shared her thoughts in an interview before the Executive Board meeting, stating: “‘I don’t know what to do anymore or where my control lies. I’m concerned that my decisions might not be on the same page as Principal Jahoda’s.’”

She said that former principal Anthony Barbetta would reach out to her and sit down with her to understand the way the building worked in terms of discipline. She said, “He would ask me what the disciplinary problems were at the school and how we handled them.”

She then contrasted this with how she currently performs her duties as dean, stating,  “I’ve initiated all the meetings…[Ms. Jahoda] has never approached me. I don’t know what she wants or what her desires are [for how to handle discipline in the school] because we have never sat down and had a discussion.”

Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to set up a meeting with her.

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