John Chase is still principle at Bronxdale High School, and teachers, community leaders and womens’ advocates are not very happy.
On Tuesday, January 10, hundreds took to the street in front of the Christopher Columbus Educational Campus to protest the fact that Chase still has his job. In December, the Bronxdale principal was found by the city Department of Education to have made “inappropriate sexual comments,” to a female employee at the beginning of the school year. He was ordered to sensitivity training by the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity. Protestors argued that the punishment was much too lenient for an offense that they said poisoned the work environment at Bronxdale.
United Federation of Teachers union members, who turned out for the protest in large numbers, also maintained that had Chase been a teacher, as opposed to an administrator, he would have been fired for the offense.
Fired-up protestors held signs demanding for Chase’s ouster and chanted “Chase must go!”
Protester Elu Lara teaches math at the Evander Childs Educational Campus and has been a DOE employee for 18 years. He maintained that the retention of Chase as principal at Bronxdale set a bad example for students.
“We’re here to educate people and show them what is right and wrong” he said.
Lara also believed that as a principal, Chase was treated differently by the DOE than he or any of his fellow UFT union members would have been.
“We’ve got here somebody who was accused and found guilty,” Lara said.
Jose Vargas, the UFT’s Bronx representative echoed those sentiments.
“If any of the people that work in this building were not an administrator, would they still be the?” He asked the riled-up crowd. “They would have been removed.”
Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who attended Christopher Columbus High School, also spoke during the protest.
“This individual should not be in this school and should be removed,” Vacca said. “If this school is going to succeed it needs leadership.”
Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera had representatives at the rally and issued statements calling for Chase’s removal.
According to Bronxdale freshman Mia Tess Liriano, the entire episode has been a distraction.
Members of the National Organization for Women also attended the rally.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “Everyone in the school has been talking about it, because they hear about it on the news.”
The Department of Education issued a statement in response to the protest.
“Allegations of sexual harassment were not substantiated,” it said. “The investigation found that principal Chase made inappropriate sexual comments in violation of the chancellor’s regulation (A-830). As a result of this investigation, principal Chase will receive a letter to his file, EEO training, and of course we will consider this investigation in any future decisions around tenure.”