C.H.S. PRINCIPAL "DISCONTINUED"
By Brittni Kanhai& Kalecia Graham
Tensions increased this week at Canarsie High School and it wasn't because of year-end tests and approaching graduation. Many of the school's teachers rallied outside the building at Rockaway Parkway and Avenue J Tuesday morning before classes in a demonstration of support for Principal David Harris, who received a letter of discontinuance from the Department of Education last Friday. The correspondence - sent via E-mail from Wendy Karp, a local instructional superintendent at Region 6 - said in part that Harris was "discontinued from [his] current position as principal" after serving for two and a half years.
Harris said he was informed the main reasons for his dismissal were ongoing problems at the school, including security, attendance (which is less than 67 percent, according to Region 6 documents) and no evident changes since the school was placed on the SURR (Schools Under Registration Review) list in March. The notice also indicated that since Harris is a tenured middle school administrator, he is entitled to return to his previous position as principal at Brooklyn's Middle School 246, which was removed from the SURR list when he served there for almost five years before coming to Canarsie High School in 2004.
In an exclusive interview with the Courier , Harris, a 17-year veteran of the city's public school system, including seven as a principal, said that he has no intention of leaving the secondary school "without a fight." He said that if he departs, the school would be "destabilized and will set it back."
Harris said that his battle includes staying in contact with the state Education Department, the principals' union, his staff, parents and students.
A spokesman for the CSA, the principal's union, said on Tuesday that they were as yet unaware if Harris had filed an appeal over his dismissal.
He stated, "I love Canarsie High School and I want to remain here to help students achieve and improve their academic performance."
Some picketers outside the school on Tuesday shouted, "Hell no, he won't go," and others yelled, "Stop harassing Mr. Harris."
Several teachers and students expressed their unequivocal support for the well-liked administrator.
Health Education Teacher Thea Platt-Glasser said, "I think it's unfair that the DOE doesn't follow its own rules and procedures…they seem to be throwing obstacles in our path, making it difficult for us to succeed and flourish."
Teacher and basketball head coach Tommie Allen added, "Harris has established a learning environment where people are respecting each other and therefore is working to make the community a better place."
A few students also joined the picket line. Senior Kendall Franklin stated, "I feel like Mr. Harris should not be discontinued because he is very supportive of the academic and sports program."
Sophomore Mateama Johnson added, "Mr. Harris is a good principal, he could make a lot of changes and they should give him a chance."
Teachers and students said they plan to rally for the rest of the week in hopes of preventing their leader from losing his position