Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials
Harlem Principal Is Out After a Yearlong Civil War at an Elementary School
After a yearlong civil war inside Central Park East I, a progressive elementary school in East Harlem, the school’s embattled principal has stepped aside, the city’s education department said on Monday, handing a victory to parents who had accused her of seeking to dismantle the school’s traditions.
The principal, Monika Garg, will retain her title and salary as a principal but will no longer have a school to run. The department said the change was effective immediately.
That was a sudden about-face from Friday, when the Education Department announced that it was giving Ms. Garg a new supervisor but said that she would remain the principal.
The conflict has consumed the school since last year, dividing the parents and the staff. What the groups are fighting over has at times been hard to discern amid the volleys of accusations and counter-accusations. The parents and teachers who opposed Ms. Garg said she was trying to squelch the school’s progressive spirit by bringing it in line with department rules. They also accused her of instigating investigations against teachers who defied her.
Parents who supported Ms. Garg, on the other hand, said that the school, which was originally intended to provide a rich, arts-filled education to the children of East Harlem, had over the years become exclusionary and that its traditions had calcified. They said the investigations of teachers were justified and were not pursued out of animus.
Afterward, the Education Department had seemed to waver about what to do. On Friday came the announcement that a supervisor had been placed over Ms. Garg at the school. Then, on Monday, Ms. Garg did not return to the school. In a brief interview there in the early afternoon, her new supervisor, Dolores Esposito, said she could not say why Ms. Garg was not there or whether she would continue as principal.
“We can’t answer that,” she said as she hurried away from a reporter.
The Education Department did not immediately name an interim leader but said Ms. Esposito would continue to oversee the school.
Central Park East I was founded in 1974 by Deborah Meier, a leader in the small schools movement, who started several other schools and won a MacArthur fellowship, known as a “genius grant,” in 1987.