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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
At a December Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader Franco Scardino addressed parents and charged that Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda has not “found the time” to visit enough classes. He said, “She is not interested [in the] very people she leads.”
According to documents The Classic has obtained, from September to February, out of 56 teachers, Ms. Jahoda has provided written feedback to four teachers following classroom visitations. Last year, according to the documents, former Principal Anthony Barbetta wrote 54 separate reports to teachers whose classes he visited during the span of the entire year.
Overall, Ms. Jahoda has visited the classrooms of 30 teachers. Four of those teachers have received formal feedback from her. Ms. Jahoda has not visited the classrooms of 26 teachers, or about 46% of the faculty.
Earlier in the week, Dean Robin Figelman asked, “How can a school run when the principal is hiding?”
During three of his years as Townsend Harris principal, Mr. Barbetta did both the principal’s job and the job of the former Languages Other than English (LOTE) assistant principal, which gave him the added responsibility of providing observation reports for the teachers in that department. Nonetheless, we spoke to two assistant principals about this matter and they felt that Mr. Barbetta both took on additional responsibilities for LOTE and helped complete observations for many other teachers. Furthermore, we can report that at least two local principals claim to have filed feedback over 40 times so far this year.
Former Principal Kenneth Bonamo commented on his process for providing feedback at THHS. He said, “I formally observed untenured teachers and formally observed a handful of tenured teachers; I also informally observed tenured teachers. My formal visits were almost always followed up by a conference and a report, while my informal visits were sometimes followed up by a written note.”
At the December PTA conference, Mr. Scardino further expressed frustration that the principal has not been more visible in classrooms and more involved with instruction. He calculated that, “During any given period, there are an average of 28 classes in session, that is total of 260 classes per day, and total of 1,300 per week.”
Numerous teachers have alleged that Ms. Jahoda is unfamiliar with them, citing that she mispronounces their names or does not even know their names at all. Dean Robin Figelman claimed that Ms. Jahoda often referred to her as “Ms. Figelbaum.” At a School Leadership Meeting (SLT), she referred to Assistant Principal Susan Brustein as “Ms. Burnstein.” We spoke to one teacher who said that Ms. Jahoda called him by the name of another teacher from a different department.
Recently, numerous members of the Townsend Harris community have questioned how Ms. Jahoda spends her time during the work day. On Monday, we reported on her spending time purchasing a couch for her office. Yesterday, we reported that a parent was kept waiting for hours in Ms. Jahoda’s office waiting for help about a matter involving her son’s Harvard internship.
An anonymous assistant principal said that Ms. Jahoda “didn’t really provide a lot of mentoring” when it came to conducting observations. Regarding the number of observations Ms. Jahoda has filed so far this year, another assistant principal said, “She is simply not doing her job. She should be getting to know the staff and providing them feedback so they know what she expects and so she knows their strengths and weaknesses. After this, she should not even get an interview in the next round of the C-30. She’s done nothing to deserve this school.”
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment.