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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan
The monthly Parent-Teacher Association meeting was held recently to address the concerns of the Townsend Harris High School community. At the end of the meeting, the PTA shared a written statement directed to Chancellor Carmen Fariña requesting that Interim Acting Principal Jahoda “be immediately removed as Interim Acting Principal of the school.”
Conducted on December 15, many students, parents, alumni, and THHS staff were in attendance. Susan Karlic, President of the PTA, presided over the meeting and presented many of the PTA’s questions to the principal.
Many issues were brought up at the meeting, some of which The Classic previously reported on. These included articles on the procedural changes made by the principal, claims of teacher harassment and inappropriate language used by the principal, student interaction with Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro, an account of two students who felt dissatisfied after they had a meeting with the principal regarding hate speech, and staff members who were planning to leave THHS if the interim acting principal was appointed to a permanent position.
Principal Jahoda answered each issue raised. When asked about a response after the interaction between students and Ms. Pineiro, she said, “I felt at the time that if I tried to stop it [communication between the students and the superintendent], I’m not allowing the students to communicate their feelings about me to her.” She also discussed an incident in which the Muslim Student Association was told “F*** Muslims” during a bake sale. Following a meeting in which a student who was a victim of the hate speech cried due to her discussion with Ms. Jahoda, the principal said, “It wasn’t my intention to hurt their feelings, and I tried my best to validate how they felt. But maybe it was a miss on my part.”
Much of the talk centered on Ms. Jahoda’s time at Bronx Science High School, where 20 out of 22 teachers math department accused her of harassment.
After the principal spoke, numerous individuals came forth to critique the principal’s statements and actions. Many were concerned and asked several questions regarding the school’s future.
Many asked about ways that they could take action against the principal. UFT representative James Vasquez suggested the parents call 311 or contact Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, and other local government representatives.
The PTA meeting concluded with parents, students, alumni, and faculty members signing off on a statement that established they “unequivocally” supported the resolution of the association. The resolution included the removal of Deputy Superintendent Ms. Pineiro and Superintendent Elaine Lindsey from the C-30 process, the immediate restoration of the C-30 process, the removal of THHS from the schools managed by the aforementioned Department of Education representatives, and a formal apology on behalf of them, along with the removal of Ms. Jahoda as a candidate for the permanent principal position and the immediate removal of her as interim acting principal.
Craig Slutzkin, co-president of the THHS Alumni Association, was present at the meeting, describing it as “simply unprecedented.” He went on to explain, “this is the first time in the 32 year history of the reestablished Townsend Harris that there has been such turmoil with a principal transition. I have personally seen all four principals leave the school—this is the only time this much chaos has ensued.”
He added, “I think I speak on behalf of all alumni when I call upon the DOE to listen to the Townsend Harris family – who knows the school, knows the culture, knows the history – and act swiftly and accordingly.”
The resolutions passed by both the PTA and the Alumni Association can be read below.
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment today.RESOLUTION OF THE PARENT TEACHERS ASSOCIATION vFINAL
RESOLUTION OF THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION vFINAL