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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
After eight months of discord dominating the halls of Townsend Harris, the long-awaited decision has been revealed: Rosemarie Jahoda will not be the permanent principal of THHS. Instead, Superintendent Elaine Lindsey appointed Brian Condon, current principal of the School for Tourism and Hospitality, to be the new permanent principal. Ms. Lindsey announced the decision at a special SLT meeting today. Mr. Condon will officially start on May 1.
In a message to the community, Mr. Condon stated, “I am humbled and honored to have been selected to serve as the principal of such a vibrant and active community of learners and leaders. I look forward to meeting all of the members of the THHS community beginning May 1. I plan on hitting the ground learning and I will be relying on everyone’s help so I may prove to be the leader the THHS community deserves.”
The decision marked the culmination of the C-30 process for hiring permanent principals, which was delayed mysteriously in early December and re-opened on February 1 after weeks of silence from the Department of Education (DOE). Job interviews with the Level I Committee were held on March 15. Ms. Jahoda was the first candidate to be interviewed and many members of the community were surprised as to how she was able to receive an interview opportunity given the controversy that dominated the school year. With 38 candidates applying for the position, only four ultimately interviewed for it.
Level II interviews were held on Friday, April 7. At this stage, the superintendent interviews candidates herself and then typically announces the final decision at an SLT meeting. We cannot confirm if Ms. Jahoda received an interview, but we know she left the school building mid-day on that Friday. Ms. Lindsey made the announcement to the SLT body and all other members of the community present on April 20.
Many members of the community were pleased with the responses Mr. Condon provided Classic reporters. He explained that he was aware of the controversy surrounding Ms. Jahoda, as he reads the Classic, and he said that he “listens very carefully to what people have to say, … [and that] being a principal isn’t about being in charge, but about service.” He claimed that “when I make a promise, I keep it.” He maintained that the most important quality to have as principal is to establish trust within a community.
The school community responded positively to the news, considering the numerous controversies surrounding Ms. Jahoda that The Classic previously reported on.
Such controversies erupted after a petition was created to remove Ms. Jahoda as the interim acting principal and after Deputy Superintendent Leticia Pineiro asked students during the December 8 sit-in to present evidence of Ms. Jahoda’s behavior, dismissing claims of the protestors as hearsay.
The Classic then published multiple audio recordings of Ms. Jahoda’s interactions with her subordinates, one in which she expressed that she does not plan to interact with students in the “f***ing” hallways, and another in which she discussed cutting off access to United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader Franco Scardino and described him as “useless.” Members of the Muslim Student Association also claimed that Ms. Jahoda wrongfully interrogated them when hate speech was used in school. Other controversies surrounded Ms. Jahoda’s alleged neglect of the special education department at THHS, and allegations that Ms. Jahoda denied mandated services to a visually impaired student at the Bronx High School of Science.
Ms. Jahoda was also being investigated under the Office of Special Investigations regarding the aforementioned incident. According to Anna Schuchmann, the mother of the visually impaired student, the investigation was closed recently; reasons were not disclosed by the investigator.
However, though much of the community is satisfied that Ms. Jahoda has been replaced, larger concerns regarding the confidentiality and secrecy of the C-30 process remain. Members of the community labeled the process “rigged” and “fixed,” following the news that Ms. Jahoda received a Level I interview, while other members of the community who received widespread support from students and parents were shut out. The lack of transparency surrounding the process was heavily critiqued not only by immediate THHS community members, but also by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.