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Staff leave Gateway amid investigation

By Sarina Trangle

At least two administrators and one teacher have departed from Queens Gateway as the city investigates students’ and parents’ allegations of mismanagement at the Jamaica Hills school.

The city Department of Education said Assistant Principal Evan Madin, who supervised English courses and student activities at the middle school and high school, resigned and no longer works for the DOE.

Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School’s interim acting assistant principal of guidance, Delia Joseph, moved to a Brooklyn high school, and Colette Caesar, who raised eyebrows for reportedly teaching special education without a related state license, now works at a Staten Island high school.

Neither is under investigation, the DOE said.

Caesar declined to discuss her transition. Madin and Joseph could not be reached for comment.

The DOE said a unit independent of the chancellor called the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation is probing Gateway Principal Judy Henry.

Henry did not return a request for comment.

Students and parents urged the DOE to examine the school leadership in an April 2014 letter that described a pattern of school leaders recruiting acquaintances, starting with Superintendent Juan Mendez hiring Henry while serving as her professional reference, according to parents on an advisory employment panel.

Parent-Teacher Association Co-president Sandra Williams said her son struggled in Caesar’s class for months last year. Then she requested an administrative hearing with the city because Caesar said she had a special education certificate, but Williams was not able to find any record of it.

Within days of the scheduled hearing, a new teacher was assigned to her son’s class. The state Education Department notes it issued a special education license to Caesar weeks after the hearing.

Other parents also complained their children’s individualized education plans, a document drafted to tailor learning for those with special needs, went unmonitored and unfulfilled — sometimes for more than a year.

The Gateway community also griped about misspent money, lack of funds for extracurricular activities and the loss of a partnership with the Queens Hospital Campus.

Despite the criticism, U.S. News & World Report ranked Gateway’s high school the 72nd best in the state this year.

Williams said parents have been left with unanswered questions about staffing changes.

Investigators have spoken to Williams, a fellow PTA co-president and approached other adults in the school, according to Williams.

But David Aronov, a Hunter College student who was Gateway’s student body president last year, said his former classmates are frustrated by issues raised in last year’s letter that have gone unaddressed and the pace of the investigation.

“I’ve never been interviewed and I was one of the main people that spoke out,” Aronov said. “They haven’t talked to any students …. That’s wrong because we were targeted.”

Aronov said he and dozens of frustrated students and parents planned to rally outside Gateway Friday morning.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com.

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