Support Kweller Prep, sponsor of The Classic:
The blog Ed Notes Online, discovered an article that was published in Stuyvesant High School’s newspaper in May 2003 regarding Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda’s time at the school as a math teacher. In the article, a student of hers alleges that Ms. Jahoda made “a mockery of” her choice to observe GLASS’s annual day of Silence.
The annual Day of Silence in 2003 was observed on April 14, and according to its website is observed to “protest the silencing of LGBT people due to harassment, bias and abuse in schools.” According to The Spectator, Audrey Hatch, a freshman at the time, felt that Ms. Jahoda had “made jesting comments about her and other students in class for their refusal to speak.”
In the article, Hatch explained that “she and two other students showed Jahoda the speaking cards that explained their reason for remaining silent throughout the day at the beginning of the period,” but after another student in the class began to insult the three participants, Jahoda told her class, “It would be really funny if I could get them to talk, wouldn’t it?’”
Hatch stated that Ms. Jahoda “was making a mockery of the whole thing.” She further explained, “when someone’s making fun of you and you can’t say anything back, it really hurts, and that’s sort of what the Day of Silence is about in the first place.”
At the time, Ms. Jahoda declined to comment to the writers of The Spectator.
After reading the allegations, senior Daniell Morales discussed his experience in participating in the Day of Silence himself: “when I participated, teachers read the cards [and] realized that this is an important day about the lives of every part of the LGBT community, [including] those who have committed suicide due to their unaccepting situation. For someone to laugh at a student for trying to pay respect to those lives that have been lost…I think it’s truly disrespectful and even though you do apologize, there’s just something that’s missing. An apology does not respect a life that has been lost.”
Of the alleged comments, Daniell feels that they serve to harass the student because, “the card has a specific statement that explains the entire situation and it says ‘please respect this and realize that this is not something to try and take away from your participation in class but for something truly serious.’”
Hatch was described as still emotional the day after the incident allegedly took place.
Last week, The Classic reported on a student interaction with Ms. Jahoda that left a THHS student in tears. The student in that article, co-president of the Muslim Student Association Sangida Akter, read the Stuyvesant article and commented: “I think that is kind of characteristic of her, once you do confront her about something she becomes hostile very easily and…I do think it’s going to keep happening. I think even if she does ever genuinely mean what she wants to say, she never knows how to get it across to the student. Maybe, that day in the room with us, she really did mean to be sincere and honest, but to us, it came off as hostile, uncaring, and not productive at all.”
Another student from the Stuyvesant article became involved after hearing about it from Hatch. A junior at the time, Roman Goldin says he decided to confront Jahoda after speaking to Hatch: “I told her [Ms. Jahoda] that I thought she was being rude and I wished she’d apologize.” According to Goldin, “things escalated from there” and disciplinary measures were taken against Goldin for his actions. Goldin called her statements in class “harassment.”
A New York Post article, published in August 2003, also interviewed Goldin and referenced an incident at Stuyvesant involving the Day for Silence, referencing only “a teacher.”
The article stated: “A current senior at Stuyvesant HS in downtown Manhattan, claims a teacher there showed little respect for students who participated in a ‘Day of Silence’ – a national program backed by gay and lesbian organizations to show support for closeted teens.” The teacher “made fun of some of the kids doing it, trying to get them to speak in class,” Goldin said. “She caused some of the kids in the class to cry.””
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment. The original article is no longer available on the main Spectator website but an archived image of the article as it originally appeared is available here.