More peaceful year begins at P.S. 14

After last year ended in a slew of protests, rallies, and heated words, P.S. 14 looks to be starting anew.

Jason Kovac, the principal of P.S. 14, experienced a tough few months at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. On Tuesday, June 8, a rally held at Bronxonia Yacht Club attracted 65 parents to voice complaints about Kovac.

They felt that the young principal had fired a number of popular teachers under shady circumstances, avoided meeting with parents to discuss problems, and in general had brought the school in a new direction of which they did not approve.

Parents were so unhappy that they marched around the school building on two separate occasions, holding signs and forcing Kovac and administrators to switch up the way the school dismisses its students at the end of the day.

Now, after waning passion by protesters and one key meeting, parents and staff on both sides of the issue say they are expecting a better year.

“We haven’t heard anything from them in months,” reports Evelyn Pereira-DeStefano, the parent coordinator who took some criticism from parents who felt she had become Kovac’s pal and no longer was attuned to their concerns.

“It’s been pretty quiet,” she adds. “They must realize that everything is above board and running smoothly.”

Pereira-DeStefano also noted that on Wednesday, September 15 at 6 p.m. the school will be holding another “Under the Stars” parent appreciation night. The first time such an event was held, on June 8, it provoked the ire of protesting parents, who felt that Kovac had scheduled the celebration as a direct response to their rally.

Judy Genneralli, one of the protesting parents, says that she is optimistic, but still displeased with the way the school is being run. “I don’t feel any better than I did in June,” she says. “We tried to see what we could do, but it’s not something that happens overnight. He’s going to have to watch everything he does.”

Genneralli also says that she and her husband Vinny attempted to transfer their son from P.S. 14 to another school, but it did not work out.

Ben Signore, who had been the unofficial leader of the movement against Kovac, is evenmore positive.

“[Kovac] getting removed is not going to happen,” he says. “But the superintendent gave me his word he’s going to stay on top of him and make sure everything is going properly. He’s going to keep a close eye on what’s going on at the school.”

That promise came after a special meeting at the end of June with superintendent Timothy Behr and Kovac. Signore and the Genarrellis, as well as other parents on both sides of the disputes, were in attendance at the meeting, which went a long way in smoothing over the issues.

“I’m optimistic that everything will be different this year,” says Signore. “I’m not here to make waves, I’m trying to make sure the children and teachers are happy. And I’m not going to hold what happened last year against him.”

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