The appointment of a new principal at P.S. 14 brought hope to the school community following the controversy surrounding the resignation of its former principal.
Parents, teachers and community members packed the school’s auditorium on the evening of Wednesday, January 5 to meet new interim principal Ira Schulman. District 8 superintendent Timothy Behr was also present as part of the P.S. 14 “meet and great” with the community. Schulman comes to the school after being a teacher and assistant principal at P.S. 16.
Schulman replaces outgoing principal Jason Kovac, who resigned last month amid concern over the school’s test scores falling from an A to a C.
Also, about 20 teachers left the school during his tenure, some making allegations that Kovac’s behavior was intimidating and threatening.
Schulman told the crowd of approximately 150 that the three days he had spent at the school already rated as the best of his educational career. He pledged to support parents, students and teachers, while maintaining high standards of student achievement driven by data compiled from classrooms.
“It is about engaging the parents, staff and kids in what we feel is best for the school,” Schulman said. “We will take what people have to say and as a school community, create something everybody can share in. That is what school is all about.”
During his first three days at the school, he conducted a school-wide assessment, met with the Parent Teacher Association and UFT chapter leaders, as well as with individual teachers. The healing process from the controversies that surrounded the former principal should begin immediately, Behr said.
“A person has been chosen to begin the healing process in this building,” Behr said. “We will make the school a happy place to be.”
Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns was present, along with several board members including James McQuade, Rocco Talarico, and board chairman John Marano.
Kearns pledged the ongoing support of the board to the P.S. 14 community. The board had written to the Department of Education about the parents and teachers’ issues in December.
Talarico, vice-president of the Throggs Neck Home Owners Association, was approached by concerned parents back in the fall. He said that he was confident that Schulman could lead the school back to the top of the district rankings, where it has consistently been a mainstay.
“We never had a problem with P.S. 14. It was always a number one school, but since Mr. Kovac took over, it has ranked near the bottom,” Talarico said. “The new principal seems like a really caring person and should be able to take the school back to the top again.”
Tara Feaster, a parent who attended the meeting, was planning not to enroll a second child at the school because of its previous administration. Now she has renewed confidence.
“I am unbelievably exited about the new administration, and you can see the excitement in all of the staff’s faces,” Feaster said. “I am very thankful to Mr. Behr and Community Board 10.”
District officials have already begun the C-30 process, which is the DOE-mandated procedure for finding a permanent principal.