Junior delayed in attending Harvard internship due to grade change controversy, mother kept waiting for assistance in interim acting principal’s office for hours

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Last week, seniors were concerned about delayed grade changes on their mid-year college reports. However, junior Noah Sadik was also affected by the delay. Noah is starting an internship at Harvard University this term, and he needed a corrected transcript in order to attend and begin taking online high school classes to supplement what he will miss at Townsend Harris High School. Noah and his mother, Elizabeth Sadik, say that Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda delayed approving Noah’s grade change to correct the transcript. While Noah was supposed to be in Boston beginning his program at Harvard on Monday, February 6, he was instead waiting in Ms. Jahoda’s office for the updated transcript.

Noah needed an updated transcript by February 2 to attend his internship and take online classes at Laurel Springs Online High School in lieu of his THHS courses. He noticed an error in his transcript and brought it to social studies teacher Jaime Baranoff who needed to make the grade change. According to Noah, Ms. Baranoff quickly prepared the necessary paperwork for a grade change and it was ready on the morning of February 3. An anonymous assistant principal confirmed this, saying, “Ms. Baranoff was on top of it.”

As with the senior grades, two assistant principals believed they still had enough time to change the grade in the DOE’s online system, print a new transcript, and provide it to Noah on Friday so he could be in Boston before Monday, the first day of his classes.

However, when Noah and his mother came to school that Friday to receive the updated report card, the error was not fixed as Ms. Jahoda did not sign off on the grade change, instead contacting “Queens North” (DOE advisors) for advice on how to proceed.

Noah’s mother claimed that on February 3, Ms. Jahoda refused to sign off on Noah’s grade change request within the window they needed to get the change made before going to Harvard. An anonymous assistant principal explained Ms. Jahoda’s refusal, saying that she wanted more evidence that the updated grade was correct and a more detailed explanation of how the error came about. The assistant principal said, “Ms. Jahoda was confused about how eSchoolData works [and] between the Marking Period Grades and Projected Final Grades [that explained the error in the fall term’s transcripts].”

The assistant principal said they informed Ms. Jahoda that the issue was time sensitive, but “she kept stalling and then [they] became a little frustrated [because] Ms. Sadik was very upset that she had to postpone her trip and Noah was missing his classes. Ms. Jahoda didn’t offer any help or support.”

The assistant principals maintain that if the grade change was approved on Friday, the issue would have remained school-level, and the Student Transcript and Academic Recording System (STARS) system could have been used to approve the change. One assistant principal added that, “[The] grade change approval] took longer than it ought to have.”

Later, Noah emailed Ms. Jahoda to let her know the importance of getting his grade change approved immediately and that he, along with his mom, would visit her again on Monday, which should have been the first day of his program. However, Ms. Jahoda did not respond.

Regarding this, Noah commented, “I think that it is only professional that someone in such a position should respond to issues in a timely manner.”

Noah’s mom explained that on Monday, the two waited for Ms. Jahoda from about 11 AM to 4 PM. The Classic can confirm that the two were in Ms. Jahoda’s office for an extensive period of time. Despite such a long wait, Noah’s mom stated that Ms. Jahoda “did not greet” her until 2:30 PM, only to say that this issue was in the “hands of the DOE as [the transcript had] become official.”

Noah and Ms. Sadik can be added to a growing list of community members who are frustrated at Ms. Jahoda’s lack of availability. Yesterday, The Classic reported that despite being “unavailable” through email or in person to numerous members of THHS, Ms. Jahoda has spent time during the workday selecting a new couch for her office, using school funds appropriated for furniture purchases.

Ms. Sadik also informed The Classic that while waiting for Ms. Jahoda, she witnessed Ms. Jahoda call Ms. York into her office and speak to her rudely, with a raised voice and an accusatory tone. According to Ms. Sadik, Ms. Jahoda was annoyed that Ms. Sadik had called a representative from the DOE named Michael Tancredi about the situation and wanted to know who had given Ms. Sadik his number and why she was going above the school’s authority.

Ms. Sadik said, “Every single one of the APs went way beyond their call of duty. The APs have always been very helpful, but [Ms. Jahoda] has not. I think she almost purposely makes their life harder on purpose or she’s just so incompetent.”

After witnessing the interaction with Ms. York, Ms. Sadik grew concerned that her attempts to talk to DOE representatives led to a “backlash” and a greater waiting period. She said, “I think she [was] purposely delaying the transcript after [overhearing that Ms. Jahoda was annoyed over the call to Mr. Tancredi]. That’s how I read it. I think she got a thrill by making me wait.”

After The Classic reported on the grade change controversy Monday night, all grade change requests were sent to the DOE on Tuesday. Noah’s request was processed on Wednesday and he went to Boston that day, two days after his program began.

The incident that delayed Noah’s start date at Harvard occurred months after Ms. Sadik first informed Ms. Jahoda of the program in September 2016. Ms. Sadik felt that Ms. Jahoda “misguided” them in September about her support for Noah’s program.

After Ms. Jahoda gave her verbal approval of Noah’s plans, Ms. Sadik worked with the assistant principals to develop a plan that would enable Noah to conduct his work at Harvard and maintain his coursework at Townsend Harris. Later on in November, Noah’s mother claimed she approached Ms. Jahoda to have her sign off on the plan, and that then, Ms. Jahoda told her she couldn’t sign anything because she needed DOE approval. Ultimately, the DOE told Ms. Jahoda that she could not allow Noah to maintain his coursework at Townsend Harris while at Harvard, and he needed to be officially “discharged” from Townsend Harris if he wanted to do his program, as it was a safety issue since the DOE would be liable for him if something happened at Harvard and he was still a THHS student.

Ms. Sadik brought her concerns over this to Chancellor Fariña herself at a meeting in December.  Ms. Fariña responded saying, “I’m going to look see if if there are caveats for students with internships because sometimes rules need to be changed to accommodate special expeditions.”

No such caveat was found. Noah’s mom was contacted by Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro who informed her that Noah needed to be discharged from the school and needed to be removed from the Student Union. Noah’s mother was frustrated that she was completely unaware of the discharge process before Ms. Pineiro contacted her and felt that Ms. Jahoda “wasted three months [of her time]” by not informing her of the actual discharge process.  

Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment.