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Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

Despite a recent step in the right direction, the Townsend Harris High School (THHS) community remains uneasy about the permanent principal hiring process and is working to achieve immediate action.

After months of reported tension between interim acting principal Rosemarie Jahoda and the Flushing school’s community, PTA Co-President Susan Karlic informed parents at the monthly PTA meeting on Jan. 19 that the Department of Education’s (DOE) C-30 process to hire a permanent principal would restart as of Feb. 1 — allowing for a fresh pool of candidates to apply for the permanent job.

The THHS community expressed immediate relief upon hearing the news, which came on the heels of a student protest, outcry at a Parent Teacher Association meeting, a rally outside of the school and input from the borough president. But, despite this positive development, the community remains anxious; Jahoda has continued to serve as the school’s interim acting principal and remains in the pool of potential candidates for the permanent job.

In result, a petition has emerged to name assistant principal Ellen Fee as acting principal, effective immediately. The petition was posted a week ago and has 1,056 supporters — 444 signatures away from its goal.

“Ms. Fee is a beloved person at Townsend,” the petition reads. “She is just the exact opposite of Ms. Jahoda. She is warm, friendly, caring and knows how to build relationships with students, families and teachers.”

Jahoda’s immediate removal from the interim acting principal position was one in a series of demands unanimously voted upon at a December PTA meeting. The resolution was sent to the DOE.

“We need someone who knows and cares for Townsend Harris, and we need this person now,” the petition continues.

The petition is slated to be delivered to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Upon hearing the news that the C-30 process [restarted], the alumni association was very encouraged that progress is being made,” said Selina Lee, co-president of the Townsend Harris Alumni Association. “We are hopeful that the DOE will continue to hear the community’s concerns regarding the current interim acting principal, and the continued request by the community to remove her as an interim while the C-30 process continues.”

According to Karlic, current DOE regulations state a permanent principal is appointed within 90 days of the job posting. Applications for the job, which are being collected through the DOE website, will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Feb. 15.


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