A family firewall around discussing school issues has Chancellor Dennis Walcott taking a hands-off approach to managing trouble at a chaotic Queens school.
Walcott’s daughter, Dejeanne Walcott, is a physical education teacher at Queens Metropolitan High School, where an organizational crisis has caused schedules to shift frequently and left some students without instruction, including in physical education classes.
After last night’s Panel for Educational Policy meeting, where he vowed that the problems would be solved, Walcott said he had first heard about the troubles at the school “a couple weeks ago.” He said his top deputy, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky, had heard complaints around the same time.
But Walcott would not say whether his daughter mentioned the issues to him, emphasizing that he and Dejeanne try not to talk shop.
“My daughter and I have established a protocol with each other with respect to business,” he said. “We try not to mix our respective lives as far as education is concerned.”
“My daughter and I have worked it out where she’s not passing information,” he added. “That’s not fair to her.”
As a result, the chancellor said, he’s trying to stay out of the fray at the school.
“When it comes to Queens Metropolitan, I try to let Shael and the others deal directly with it,” he said.
And asked whether he heard that Dejeanne’s subject was among those affected most by the school’s scheduling difficulties, he only responded, “Mmhmm. That’s what I’m hearing.”
Principal Marci Levy-Maguire told parents earlier this week that students have been getting grades in physical education classes without actually being required to exercise. That situation goes against a core belief of Walcott, a fitness fan who has said healthy habits are essential to academic success. Last night, Walcott said he would be going for his first run Saturday since completing the New York City Marathon, his first, on Nov. 6. “I feel great. I’m raring to go,” he said.