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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan
Eva Hangartner, a 2016 alumna from The Bronx High School of Science, has alleged that last year Rosemarie Jahoda denied her services for her visual impairment. Eva’s mother, Anna Schuchmann, said that Ms. Jahoda, who was then the Bronx Science Mathematics Assistant Principal, was “purposely sabotaging” her daughter’s performance in her Calculus BC class.
Ms. Jahoda did not return requests for comment on these allegations, but Will Mantell, Deputy Press Secretary at NYC Department of Education, said that his office will be looking into what happened and added, “We are dedicated to meeting the needs of all students.”
Eva has an eye disorder called cone dystrophy, which makes it difficult for her to read from a chalkboard. Eva has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as a result. She said that before senior year, “in all math classes, [she] received copies of the notes.” However, she was not provided class notes in her Calculus BC class.
Anna made repeated requests to the head guidance counselor, the calculus teacher, and the eye coordinator for her daughter to receive the notes, but was denied by her Calculus BC teacher, who cited Ms. Jahoda, his supervisor, as the reason.
Anna said, “This is a kid with straight A’s screaming for weeks that she cannot see anything. Despite five or six meetings, we [could not] get Ms. Jahoda to give her the notes and then she [got a low] grade.”
Ultimately, Eva dropped Calculus BC for Calculus AB. Otherwise she’d have faced sending grades that were far lower than what she had been earning to colleges. She then began receiving notes from her new teacher.
The Classic reviewed several emails provided by Anna from the time period under question. The emails are between Anna and those at the school involved in responding to the situation, whose identities Anna has asked to keep anonymous. In one email, an individual described speaking to Ms. Jahoda and reports that Ms. Jahoda believes parts of Eva’s IEP “were written poorly because they were not specific and ‘open to interpretation.’” The email further says that “[Ms. Jahoda] had been worried about giving [Eva] lecture notes with answers on it.”
In an email written after Eva dropped Calculus BC, the same individual involved promised to “make sure [Eva] is not further penalized for a situation that is not her fault.”
Harry Rattien, the Assistant Principal of Mathematics at Bronx Science from 2003-2006 prior to Ms. Jahoda, spoke to The Classic about how the Math Department worked there. Though he was not involved in this situation, he said that in his time at Bronx Science, he “never had an IEP that was open to interpretation.” He elaborated that if there was something that an assistant principal felt was open to interpretation, it would be their “full responsibility” to resolve the confusion with the case worker. Mr. Rattien was also an assistant principal of mathematics at Townsend Harris for seventeen years.
On the possibility of the IEP being unclear, Anna said that Ms. Jahoda thought Eva required the teacher’s lesson plan rather than the class notes, something Ms. Jahoda could not require a teacher to provide. Anna says that no other teacher or administrator at the school interpreted the IEP any other way and described numerous ways that teachers at the school provided Eva with their class notes.
Fearful that Ms. Jahoda might retaliate and impact Eva’s college application process, Anna waited to involve the school’s principal. When Eva earned admission to Stanford, Anna then contacted the principal, who called a meeting with her, Ms. Jahoda, the math teacher, and Eva.
Anna wanted Ms. Jahoda to take responsibility for what happened, but she found Ms. Jahoda “rude and defensive” at the meeting. She said, “The principal actually had to ask Ms. Jahoda to go into the neighboring room. We sat there for a good ten minutes until she [Ms. Jahoda] came back out and…[apologized] to me. She still never apologized to Eva.”
In regard to this situation, we reached out to those involved at Bronx Science but did not receive a comment.
We have asked Ms. Jahoda for comment every single morning since returning from the break. On Monday, she responded, “I’m not having this discussion with you now. I’m busy right now.” She indicated she was not available later that day or throughout the week to speak to The Classic. Anna considers the Calculus BC situation to be retaliation for the interactions between her and Ms. Jahoda prior to Eva’s senior year. She said, “From our point of view, Ms. Jahoda [was] absolutely purposefully sabotaging Eva.”
When Eva was a freshman, Anna said Ms. Jahoda called her a liar at a meeting. This was after Anna told Ms. Jahoda that Eva’s teachers said that she could get into a sophomore honors class because of her high grades despite not scoring well on a placement exam. Though Eva did not take the honors math course sophomore year, over the course of the next two years, Anna repeatedly asked Ms. Jahoda for information regarding how to get into future higher level math courses.
Ultimately, Eva placed into Calculus BC as a senior only to find herself lacking the services she had been receiving in all math classes prior to her senior year. Anna first drew attention to the issue by contacting the school on September 11, 2015, the third day of the school year, writing that “Eva’s teacher stated that he ‘was not allowed to share notes.’” Eva did not begin receiving class notes from her teacher until she dropped Calculus BC and joined Calculus AB over a month later.
Eva and Anna stress that they were extremely content with Bronx Science as a whole. They believe their negative experience with Ms. Jahoda was an anomaly.
Eva is now currently beginning her second semester at Stanford University. She was previously honored by NY1 as scholar athlete of the week.