DOE to restart Townsend Harris principal search

DOE to restart Townsend Harris principal search
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Patrick Donachie

The search for a new permanent principal at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing will begin anew, the Department of Education and elected officials said. The news comes after the process was discontinued in the midst of student, PTA and teacher protests against what they alleged was intimidating conduct from Interim Principal Rosemarie Jahoda.

Jahoda will remain interim principal at the school, according to a DOE spokesman. A Facebook post by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said she was advised the DOE would post a job listing Feb. 1. Susan Karlic, the co-president of the Townsend Harris Parent Teachers Association, expressed happiness and relief at the news.

“All are happy and very grateful to see the C-30 is being restarted Feb. 1,” she wrote in an e-mail. “At our PTA meeting after hearing of the news, everyone clapped!”

Jahoda was installed as an interim principal in September. Karlic and others had raised concerns about Jahoda’s managerial style, alleging she canceled or delayed school trips, hewed too strictly to DOE policy and did not support several students in the school’s Muslim Students Association who were harassed in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Jahoda was also criticized for her actions captured on a video taken by The Classic, Townsend Harris’ student newspaper, during a student sit-in held Dec. 8. In the video, Jahoda accompanies district Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro as she speaks to student protesters. Students said Pineiro was dismissive and rude, and Jahoda should not have accompanied her.

The principal selection process, known as the C-30 regulation, takes up to 90 days, according to the DOE, and any candidates who apply and are a part of the principal candidate school will be considered for the position. The interviews will likely begin in early March, according to a post from the Townsend Harris Alumini Association.

“We are encouraged that there is now a plan here and that the process is moving forward, so we can really focus on the future,” the Facebook post said.

The post also said an appointment could be possible as early as late March. When called, an individual in Principal Jahoda’s office said she was not available for comment.

In December, Karlic and the PTA voted on a referendum calling for the removal of Jahoda, the start of a new C-30 process with independent oversight from the DOE, and the removal of Pineiro and District Superintendent Elaine Lindsay from the process altogether.

Karlic said all the names from the C-30 process started at Townsend Harris in September would be included in the new pool of candidates, which means that Jahoda will still be considered for the permanent slot, much to the concern of her critics. Karlic said she was worried that the DOE and Superintendent Lindsay might back Jahoda despite parents’ concerns.

“Even after all the news scandals at school and all the efforts of the whole Townsend Harris community, I fear that the DOE will feel that since she has been at the school since September, they’ll deem it adequate enough to appoint her as permanent principal,” Karlic wrote.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.