Forest Hills High School grapples with leadership it claims is complacent to on-campus marijuana use

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Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz responded to the allegations that Forest Hills High School Principal Ben Sherman allowed students to smoke and vape pot on campus, leading to a majority vote of no confidence in a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) poll.

Sherman – despite recent attempts to boost safety and surveillance in the school – may now have his reputation called into question as Koslowitz is urging the city Department of Education (DOE) to step in and ensure all laws are being followed under the principal’s watch. The DOE says they are investigating the matter.

“Parents moved in to the neighborhood so their children could attend FHHS. I have been in the school countless times and I can tell you that what I read in the newspaper is nothing like the fine school that I experienced in those visits,” Koslowitz said, referring to the story’s first appearance in the Queens Chronicle.

The UFT voted 195-21 no confidence in Sherman’s leadership on Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day.

“I am asking that the DOE immediately intervene at FHHS to insure that all laws, rules, regulations and policies are being adhered to,” Koslowitz said, then referenced the New York Post article that put FHHS under the spotlight. “With respect to the principal, I am not rushing to a judgment based on a newspaper article. Those disciplinary matters will take their due course. But, the health and safety of the students must be guaranteed and guaranteed without delay.”

The DOE’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) at the school is at the helm in terms of marijuana use, according to agency, and FHHS is not lacking in personnel to handle this matter.

“Possession of marijuana is prohibited in any DOE school, and we’re continuing to provide support to the school. The superintendent will investigate these complaints,” DOE spokesman Doug Cohen said.

A teacher familiar with the situation, who spoke to QNS on the condition of anonymity, described low morale among teachers at the school and complaints that bathrooms and locker rooms are no longer under the watch of teachers to prevent marijuana and vape use among students.

The teacher alleged that Sherman had once defended a lax stance against marijuana use by claiming it was going to be legal soon, but the source made the case that alcohol is already legal and its use would not be tolerated.

Although the teacher had no complaints regarding the SAPIS personnel at FHHS claiming that there was a “talented” drug council on campus, the blame for drug use needs to be placed on the principal for allowing it in the long run.

Sherman did not respond to a request for comment but told QNS at an earlier time that he was instructed by the DOE to not speak to the press.

The UFT and teachers in the school continue to support the vote of no confidence in Sherman and would like to see him removed from his position, the teacher said.

The New York Post reported on Wednesday that numerous NYPD School Safety officers were observed on campus at Forest Hills High confiscating vape pens and stopping class-cutters.

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