By Mark Hallum
Students and teachers at the elite Townsend Harris High School were putting a negative chapter of the school’s history behind them after it was announced Interim Principal Rosemarie Jahoda would be leaving May 1, with a new person taking a permanent role in the school’s leadership.
The announcement that the C-30 process was complete and Brian Condon, 43, from the School for Tourism and Hospitality in the Bronx, would take over was made at Thursday’s School Leadership Team meeting, the school’s newspaper, The Classic, reported.
Jahoda, appointed in September, had been accused of refusing to protect Muslim students from harassment and jeopardizing seniors’ college prospects through mismanagement of transcripts.
Student Union President Alex Chen explained at a February rally on the steps of City Hall how Jahoda broke from standard procedures for processing college transcripts, which resulted in prolonging the process and raising fears they might get delivered to universities too late.
Two members of the school’s Muslim Student Association, Tahiya Choudhury and Sangida Akter, both 17, complained about Jahoda’s response when they went to her after a student was heard yelling “F— Muslims” while they were hosting a bake sale shortly after the election of Donald Trump. They said Jahoda seemed reluctant to take action.
Max Kurant, sophomore class president, described Jahoda as disorganized and uncooperative with student organizations that approve clubs and plan events, as well as philosophically out of step with the school’s culture.
“Even though she can be a very nice person on the outside, it’s very hard to get things done,” Kurant said in February, “because it’s either her way or the highway. She’s very authoritarian about how things work. She’s very conservative, and that’s just not the Townsend Harris culture. I really don’t know why they want her as principal so much. This doesn’t go with our culture. Even if you consider what the DOE is looking for in a principal — for them to handle finances, to make sure the school environment is safe — she doesn’t do this.”
The high school has a 100 percent graduation rate, according to the city Dept. of Education, and supports a student body of about 1,100 students.
Townsend Harris is one of the top schools in the nation, ranked No. 33 by U.S. News & World Report and No. 366 by Newsweek for student participation and performance in the College Board’s Advanced Placement program.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall