Year in Review: Top education stories of 2022

Queens Superintendent Philip Composto DOE
District 30 Community Education Council member Deborah Alexander celebrated the reinstatement of Superintendent Philip Composto. (Photo by Alexander Marion)

This year, parents, students, teachers and elected officials celebrated heroes, new school openings and the expansion of the city’s Gifted and Talented program across the five boroughs.

QNS is taking a look back at the events that unfolded this year in education in Queens. Here are some of the top education stories of 2022.

Corona elementary school principal, staff hailed heroes after taking down ‘agitated and combative’ intruder

P.S. 28Q Principal Robert Quintana speaks at the CEC 24 meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 20. (Photo via Zoom)

P.S.28Q Principal Robert Quintana and his staff members were hailed as heroes for taking down an 18-year-old man who walked into the school on Sept. 15 and became “agitated and combative” with school staff as he attempted to harm himself. 

According to Quintana, who practices jiu jitsu martial arts, the incident occurred shortly before dismissal when he joined a school aide in bringing the suspect to the ground, where a school safety agent handcuffed him. The man was then taken to NYC Health + Hospitals for further evaluation. 

Quintana said he was just doing his job and protecting his family. 

“I was doing my job. That is my family, and I will always protect my family, and I would do it again,” Quintana said. “The people around you in your environment reflect who you are, and clearly I’m in a wonderful district with a wonderful CEC and superintendent, and a wonderful staff that did jump in and help.” 

Community, elected officials outraged after DOE ousts beloved Queens superintendent

Queens Superintendent Philip Composto DOE
District 30 Community Education Council member Deborah Alexander celebrated the reinstatement of Superintendent Philip Composto. (Photo by Alexander Marion)

After Dr. Philip Composto was asked to step down after devoting his career to the schools in western Queens’ District 30 for over 40 years, the city Department of Education (DOE) decided to reinstate the superintendent. 

Following the DOE’s threat of terminating Composto, there were rallies, petitions and online forums calling on the DOE to reverse its decision. After going through the rehiring process, Composto was chosen to remain in his position, marking a win for the community who fought hard to keep him. 

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, who called on the city to allow Composto to reapply for his position back in May, said he was “pleased the city listened to the wishes of those stakeholders and opened their process to allow Composto to be reappointed.”

Bayside high school teacher arrested and charged after attacking students 

Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside

In February, Colin McNally, a 58-year-old gym teacher at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside was arrested and charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, after he was caught on video slamming the student up against a wall and wrestling him to the ground. 

According to police, McNally got into a confrontation with the teen who had just finished playing basketball at the gym. The boy was walking out of the gym with the basketball and McNally took the ball and was heading to the dean’s office. When the boy attempted to take back the basketball, McNally grabbed him by his shirt and wrestled him to the ground. 

In response to the incident, the DOE said McNally was “immediately removed from the classroom away from students, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

P.S. 89 in Elmhurst renamed in honor of late state Senator José Peralta 

P.S. 68 in Elmhurst renamed in honor of late state Senator José Peralta. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

P.S. 89 was renamed The José Peralta School for DREAMers honoring late state senator. Peralta fought tirelessly to pass the New York State DREAM Act, which allows thousands of undocumented young people across the state access to higher education.

Peralta died at age 47 in 2018 from leukemia. He represented the largely immigrant communities of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Corona for 16 years in the Senate and Assembly. 

“Not only was this one of his favorite schools, but it is also the school with the most DREAMers and greatest number of undocumented families in our district,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. “And now, as kids go into school every day, they will see his name and will learn that someone cared about them. José fought for their chance to be somebody, and we should honor him by continuing that legacy.”

Mayor, Queens officials celebrate opening of new East Elmhurst school named after late 1969 Mets star Tommie Agee 

Mayor Eric Adams and Borough President Donovan Richards join Tommie Agee’s wife and daughter to cut the ribbon and to celebrate the opening of the Tommie L. Agee Educational Campus in East Elmhurst on Aug. 26. (Photo courtesy of Richards’ office)

Several elected officials joined members of the 1969 Mets and the family of their late teammate Tommie Agee to celebrate the opening of the Tommie L. Agee Educational Campus in East Elmhurst in August. The location of the new school was notable in that it previously occupied a nightclub and restaurant that Agee ran, where he eventually met his wife Maxcine.

“East Elmhurst is where we called home and now it’s where the Tommie L. Agee Educational Campus will call home, too,” said Agee’s daughter, J’nelle. “To have my dad’s name immortalized on this building in East Elmhurst, where he lived for over 30 years, is just an honor — something I’m sure he wouldn’t have imagined. Thank you again to the city and this amazing community for honoring the work and dedication he stood for.”

Mayor Eric Adams had proclaimed Aug. 26, 2022, “Tommie Lee Agee Day.”

Northeast Queens electeds welcome Adams administration’s Gifted and Talented reboot 

Northeast Queens elected officials hailed Mayor Adams for the expansion of the Gifted and Talented program in public schools while slamming the previous administration for discontinuing it last fall. (QNS file photo)

Northeast Queens elected officials applauded the expansion of New York City public school’s Gifted and Talented programs across the five boroughs. Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks in April announced they would add 100 kindergarten seats and 1,000 third-grade seats, expanding both entry points to all districts.

Councilwoman Linda Lee, who has been a consistent advocate for the restoration and expansion of the program after former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in October that the program would be discontinued, thanked the mayor for expanding the program. 

“Since the fall, parents, community leaders and elected officials have consistently called for G&T to be restored, and today the mayor and chancellor demonstrated that they are listening,” Lee said. “By not just expanding the number of seats available citywide, but also expanding programs to every school district in the city, and allowing students to test into the program at later ages, this new program will prove that we can have equity and educational excellence at the same time.”

Queens lawmakers laud DOE on rollout of new Asian American and Pacific Islander curriculum in NYC public schools 

Asian American and Pacific Islander curriculum
(From l. to r.) City Council members Shekar Krishnan, Sandra Ung and Linda Lee; NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks; NYC Mayor Eric Adams (c.); and Senator John Liu with students after the city Department of Education announced the new AAPI curriculum inside Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday, May 26. (Photo courtesy of Senator Liu’s office)

Queens lawmakers celebrated the new curriculum called “Hidden Voices: Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States,” which will teach NYC public school students about the experiences and voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. 

Senator John Liu, who is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on NYC Education, said the city’s commitment to an AAPI curriculum is a significant milestone that should serve as a model to be replicated statewide. 

“Kudos to the chancellor for recognizing that the best way to stop the onslaught of anti-Asian hate that has continued unabated over the past several years is through education in our classrooms,” Liu said. “This is an important first step, and I will continue working with all stakeholders to prioritize the passage of S6359A in Albany to teach Asian American history and civic impact statewide.” 

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