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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
Yesterday, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) sent an email to parents in which Susan Karlic, Co-President of the PTA, directly addressed Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda with a claim that Safety Agent Nicole Washington placed a catalogue of adult items from her business “Pure Romance” in Ms. Jahoda’s mailbox. However, we can confirm that Agent Washington did not put the catalogue in the mailbox; we spoke to an anonymous faculty member who claims to have put the catalogue in Ms. Jahoda’s mailbox and stated that they did so in retaliation as they believe Agent Washington has been inappropriately helping Ms. Jahoda monitor the staff.
Agent Washington will be reassigned elsewhere starting tomorrow.
We have spoken to two faculty members who can verify that Agent Washington has recently spoken to them in a way that was unrelated to her responsibilities as a school safety agent; during the conversation each person claims Agent Washington was speaking on behalf of Ms. Jahoda to gather information in a way that they felt was “unprofessional” and made them “uncomfortable.”
Three separate witnesses confirmed one of these interactions between Agent Washington and a faculty member, and following this interaction, one of these witnesses decided to reveal Agent Washington’s side business to Ms. Jahoda and placed the catalogue in her mailbox.
Regarding these interactions, Agent Washington said that she speaks to everyone, as she is a public figure, and that her main concern was peace within the school. She also denied the claims made in Ms. Karlic’s email regarding the idea that Ms. Jahoda will protect her because of their relationship.
On the allegations, Deputy Press Secretary of the Department of Education Will Mantell said, “School safety agents are NYPD employees. There are procedures in place to report any allegations of misconduct. This is an allegation, and was swiftly reported both to NYPD and the Special Commissioner of Investigation.”
The catalogue was put into Ms. Jahoda’s mailbox early Monday morning. We can confirm that Agent Washington was called to Ms. Jahoda’s office multiple times that day.
We can also report that one senior seminar class returned to the building at noon from the college campus, when, according to a printed schedule, Agent Washington was to be manning the back door. Though her shift was to end at noon, agents are expected to hand off their posts to the next agent. There was, however, no agent at the back door on Monday at noon, and a student let an entire class into the building without having their IDs checked.
As the news of Ms. Karlic’s email broke, students on Facebook described witnessing expressions of loyalty towards Ms. Jahoda from Agent Washington. Senior Agastya Vaidya said that he and a group of friends “talked with her [Agent Washington] about the sit-in the day it happened and she was adamantly against it.” In our conversation, Agent Washington said that she was not against the protest, as it was a student’s right, but she thought it could have been done differently.
Ms. Karlic’s email demands information about the interaction between Ms. Jahoda and Agent Washington. She asked that Ms. Jahoda immediately respond to her concerns. Ms. Karlic asked how informed Ms. Jahoda was of Agent Washington’s side business and if Ms. Jahoda has “taken any steps to address this matter.”
Regarding the business itself, Ms. Karlic told The Classic, “It’s ok for anyone to have a ‘legal, legitimate business’ on the side but her [Agent Washington’s] business should never be known [or] seen in [a] school with children as young as 14 years old.”
At an Alumni Association Meeting on Monday, the issue came up. Co-President of the Townsend Harris Alumni Association Craig Slutzkin said, “I asked Principal Jahoda [about the issue] and she did not wish to comment. If the allegations are true, clearly we would be deeply concerned.The PTA should clearly have been informed in an expeditious manner. We would hope that the Alumni Association would be as well, as we deeply care about the school.. I would hope that Principal Jahoda had planned to inform both of us within the next day and this was just a matter of timing.”
No student has come forward to us claiming to have known about Agent Washington’s business prior to last night’s email. However, multiple students describe seeing Agent Washington on her phone and iPad frequently when on duty at the back door. Senior Vasili Papa said that “I see her [Agent Washington] on the iPad a lot.” Senior Daniell Morales also commented, “She [Agent Washington] always paid a lot of attention to her iPad.”
Agent Washington also discussed her side business with us, saying that she is able to keep her side job separate from her job at school. She said she felt it was wrong of Ms. Karlic to send the email.
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable to comment.