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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Assemblymember David Weprin speaks in front of Townsend Harris High School at a Dec. 22, 2016 press conference.

Add the state Assembly’s Queens delegation to the growing list of people who want an immediate change in leadership at Townsend Harris High School (THHS) in Flushing.

Less than a week after students, teachers and concerned community members took to the steps of City Hall to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately remove embattled interim principal Rosemarie Jahoda, every assembly member representing Queens co-signed and sent a letter to the mayor echoing the community’s outcry.

“Here in Queens, we believe that the school community deserves to have its voice heard and needs met,” the letter, sent on March 1, says. “In supporting our beloved public education system, it is our belief that the interim acting principal Rosemarie Jahoda lacks essential skills to lead Townsend Harris.”

The letter also references a series of allegations Jahoda faces from the community from both her current interim principal position and her past post as assistant principal of the Bronx High School of Science, including denying services to a visually impaired student and ignoring Muslim student leaders when they reported experiencing discrimination.

The lawmakers also ask that Jahoda not be considered for the school’s permanent principal position, which is currently being decided through the Department of Education’s [DOE] C-30 hiring process.

“We look forward to hearing from you and working to ensure the search for the next principal reflects Townsend Harris’s long-standing history of providing quality education for the next generation of leaders,” the letter concludes. “We hope that you will join us in rejecting Ms. Jahoda’s candidacy. As you know, principals are important role models in our city and students deserve a leader ready and willing to work with them and advocate for their best interests.”

The letter was signed by Assemblymembers Nily Rozic (a Townsend Harris alum), Catherine Nolan, Jeffrion Aubry, Brian Barnwell, Edward Braunstein, Vivian Cook, Michael DenDekker, Andrew Hevesi, Alicia Hyndman, Ron Kim, Michael Miller, Francisco Moya, Stacey Pheffer Amato, Michael Simanowitz, Aravella Simotas, Michele Titus, Clyde Vanel and David Weprin.

“I am so proud of the students for rallying at City Hall to voice their request to remove the interim principal immediately from the school and from the C-30 process altogether,” said Selina Lee, co-president of the Townsend Harris Alumni Association. “Thank you to the Assembly Members of Queens for hearing the students’ request. I hope the mayor will listen and respond to the students’ requests as well since community involvement and input is of utmost importance.”

Both Lee and Susan Karlic, the school’s Parent Teacher Association co-president, said they have not heard anything from either the DOE or the mayor since the Feb. 24 rally.

“I want to believe that our opinion matters,” Karlic said. “I hope the mayor responds favorably to the letter and requests of the Townsend community, and acts immediately so we can start to heal and enjoy the remainder of the academic year.”

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