clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

As closure vote nears, Wadleigh principal announces departure

A second principal of a school the city has targeted for poor performance has announced her departure.

Herma Hall is leaving Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts after three years as its principal. The school’s UFT chapter leader, Anthony Klug, and Noah Gotbaum, a member of the district’s elected parent council, said teachers learned of Hall’s departure this afternoon.

Hall announced this afternoon that she would leave the school next week, just as the citywide school board, the Panel for Educational Policy, is set to vote on the city’s proposal to shut Wadleigh’s middle school. The Department of Education declined to comment on her departure.

The principal of another school up for closure, Jane Addams Career and Technical Education High School, was removed last week and demoted to being an assistant principal at another school. In that case, Sharron Smalls was under investigation for awarding students credits they had not earned. Smalls was reassigned to an assistant principal position at the Holcombe Rucker School of Community Research, a small high school in Morrisania, according to Marge Feinberg, a department spokeswoman.

Hall’s departure is notable because only Wadleigh’s middle grades are up for closure. Hall is also the principal of the high school, which city officials have promised would not be affected by the proposed changes.

On the auditorium stage at Wadleigh’s six hour-long closure hearing last week, students defended Hall and her faculty for creating a family-like environment at Wadleigh.

At Jane Addams’ closure hearing last week, on the other hand, students and teachers complained that Smalls’s leadership had hurt the school. Stephen Tavano, the school’s union chapter leader, said he was relieved when she was removed from the school.

On Monday morning, the school’s staff members were greeted by a new principal — Joel DiBartolomeo, a former high school superintendent who returned to the city schools from a short-lived stint as the head of a suburban Philadelphia school district. He left that position in August 2011, with three years left in his term.

Already, Tavano said, DiBartolomeo is having an impact on ongoing efforts to aid students who are at risk of not graduating because Smalls had granted them math and social studies credits for courses in subjects such as cosmetology and tourism.

Students have gotten new schedules and some are assigned to late-afternoon classes to make up the missed credits, teachers report.

Another Jane Addams teacher wrote in an email that morale has improved since DiBartolomeo came on. The teacher writes:

When he spoke to us on Monday (a professional day for teachers — no students) he sounded too good to be true. I believe in actions more than words. He was so wonderful and positive I kept thinking … “He knows they are closing the school, right?” He even asked us to write down on cards our hopes, fears and other thoughts. So we were able to share our concerns – my main concern and many other teachers is the problem with disrespectful students. With only 1 fulltime dean and all the troubled kids dumped on us, some real change has to happen. We are all hopeful, but again — I’ll believe it when I see it …

DiBartolomeo comes to Jane Addams from a position as the supervisory support specialist for the Center for Educational Innovation–Public Education Association (CEI-PEA), one of the Department of Education’s educational partner organizations, Feinberg said in an email. Between 2003 and 2009 he worked in New York City as the Bronx high school superintendent, a network leader, and a local instructional superintendent.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.