BY JAMES FARRELL
Students at Townsend Harris High School staged a sit-in protest in the halls of the school as interviews for the school’s new principal were being held on Wednesday.
The school’s Level I committee—a group of parents, teachers and students representing the school community—interviewed candidates as part of the Department of Education’s ongoing C-30 principal selection process. Candidates are selected from a greater pool—in this case, 38— of applicants by the superintendent and receive recommendations after being interviewed. Those recommendations are taken into account in the superintendent’s final decision.
Beginning with a previous sit-in protest in December, Townsend Harris students have been calling for the removal of their interim-acting principal Rosemarie Jahoda, requesting that she not be interviewed for a permanent position. They have also been protesting the C-30 process at large, railing against what they say is a lack of transparency and accountability. The school’s newspaper, The Classic, reported on Facebook after the protest that Jahoda had been considered for a Level I interview.
“There’s a problem with this whole system,” said Freshman Sophomore President Max Kurant in an address to the students, one of the organizers of the protest. “Even if they rank Ms. Jahoda fifth, which is the lowest rank, Superintendent [Elaine] Lindsey has no obligation, at all, to not choose her. So no matter what these people say, Superintendent Lindsey can easily ignore that. So the reason we’re here today is to put pressure on them.”
Students sat along the hallway on the third floor, holding signs that read, “Fix The System,” “The DOE Doesn’t Listen,” and “Transparency So We All Can See.”
In a live video posted by The Classic, reporters Sumaita Hasan and Mehrose Ahmad interview student protestors.
“I’m here today because I don’t like the way Miss Jahoda is running things around the school,” said one student in the video. “I don’t think that she deserves to be leader of such a prestigious school.”
In a statement, DOE spokesman Will Mantell responded to the sit-in.
“Feedback from students and school communities is essential for strong schools,” Mantell said. “We value hearing from students, elected officials and school communities, and continue to listen to their feedback.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.