Parent leaders at the prestigious Brooklyn Technical High School are demanding a do-over in the search for a new principal.
In a letter sent Monday to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top brass, the parents charged that qualified candidates have been cut out of the running and that their input has been ignored.
“Parents, students and other stakeholders were deprived of their right to have the best possible principal,” states the letter, which was signed by Art Chang, the head of the school’s leadership team, and the co-presidents of the Parent Association, Cindy Kue and Lisa Sullivan.
Education department spokeswoman Danielle Filson said officials are investigating the charges and defended the city’s search, which is ongoing.
“The process for selecting a new principal can take up to six months, and is required to involve community engagement — this is exactly what’s happening at Brooklyn Tech. We’re investigating these allegations, and are committed to engaging the school community throughout this process to find the right leader for the school,” she said in an emailed statement.
The parents claim that two of the school’s assistant principals applied for the job but were not interviewed. They said one had been passed over “despite her outstanding qualifications, her seven-year tenure at Tech and her diverse status,” and called the other candidate “highly respected” in the Tech community.
Instead, candidates include the current acting principal, David Newman, whom parents had recommended for an interview, and four others who “were not up to the caliber Tech deserves” — either because they had no experience as a principal or hadn’t worked in the New York City school system, according to the letter. The one other candidate who had worked as a New York City principal had worked in a middle school, and had been removed from the position, amid an exodus of staff, and complaints from parents and students, the letter asserts.
With an enrollment of 6,000 students, Brooklyn Tech is the largest of the city’s coveted specialized high schools, requiring top scores on a standardized test for admission.
“It is inconceivable to imagine that top educators in New York City and across the nation wouldn’t want the opportunity to lead Tech,” the letter says.
The parents also raise questions about whether the steps for selecting a new principal, known as the C-30, were properly followed, and whether the process was free from bias. The controversy is the latest in a string of clashes over leadership at other prestigious city schools, including Townsend Harris in Queens, and LaGuardia, a specialized school focusing on the arts.
Brooklyn Tech has been without a permanent principal since January 2017, when the school’s former principal, Randy Asher, left for positions in central offices. The education department said he continued to serve as a “master principal” of the school until September, when he permanently accepted a position as an advisor to the COO, and the search for his replacement kicked off. Newman has filled in as Brooklyn Tech’s acting principal ever since.
The education department gave no indication that the search for a permanent replacement would start over. Filson said that officials expect “to conclude and to select a new permanent leader for Brooklyn Tech in the coming weeks.”