Townsend Harris students protest temp principal

Students held a sit-in at Townsend Harris High School last Thursday to protest the school’s interim principal.
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The acting principal of Townsend Harris High School is facing criticism from students, teachers and alumni, some of whom are calling on the city Department of Education to ensure she is not installed as the school’s permanent principal.

Rosemarie Jahoda was appointed as interim principal after Anthony Barbetta, the school’s previous principal, left the school in September. A petition requesting Jahoda not be named the permanent principal had gathered 3,463 signatures as of presstime.

“There was unfortunately no input as to the selection of Ms. Jahoda as interim acting principal when Mr. Barbetta transferred. In her three months as interim acting principal, Ms. Jahoda has demonstrated that she is not the right fit for this school,” the petition said. “This semester, there have been rumors of numerous instances of faculty harassment, significant changes to programs and course offerings without input from the faculty and SLT (Student Leadership Team), and as time has passed, less parent engagement. She has simply not been as approachable as previous principals.”

Students at the school also engaged in a sit-in protest Dec. 8, which students streamed on Facebook Live. The video shows lines of students sitting against lockers in a school hallway. The video was later uploaded to the YouTube channel for The Classic, the school’s newspaper.

“We’re here to protest making Principal Johada a permanent principal at Townsend Harris,” one student said during the video. “She treats teachers unfairly, everything she is doing is unfair to everyone in the school.”

A call for comment from Principal Jahoda’s office was not returned. A DOE spokesman stressed that the process for hiring a permanent principal, known as “C-30,” had not yet been initiated.

“Principal hiring and assignment decisions are made by the superintendent in accordance with the chancellor’s regulations, and based on consultations with members of the school community,” the spokesman said. “We listen closely to the feedback and concerns of all school communities and engage them as part of the C-30 process.”

The petition cited Jahoda’s tenure as assistant principal at the Bronx High School of Science as an additional cause for concern. An independent arbiter found in 2010 that 20 of the 22 mathematics teachers under Jahoda’s supervision expressed concern about her leadership, including the “creation of a hostile work environment through the harassment and intimidation of teachers” and the “inequitable implementation of department and school policies.”

Townsend Harris High School is renowned for its high academic standards and college enrollment. The New York Post listed the school as the best high school in the city in its annual high school performance list released in September. The Post reported that nearly 6,000 students throughout the city applied for 306 freshman seats last school year. Inside Schools reported that 100 percent of students graduated in four years and enrolled in college, with an average 640 SAT reading score and a 680 math score. The school is located on the Queens College campus.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Posted 12:00 am, December 16, 2016
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Richard V. Russo from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn says:
As a former teacher at THHS for eighteen years I suggest we bring back founding principal Malcolm G. Largmann, at least until the dust settles! He certainly has the vision that made the newly refounded Townsend Harris what it was!
Dec. 17, 2016, 9:55 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!