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Parents call for ouster of PS 118’s principal

Parents fed up with the principal of PS 118 call for her removal at a protest outside the St. Albans school. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

A group of parents and teachers at the Lorraine Hansberry elementary school in St. Albans said Principal Cynthia Ofori-Feaster promised to take their school from an A to an A-plus when she started in 2008.

Since then, they say, her management style has thrown the school into chaos, and they are now calling for her ouster.

PS 118, at 190-10 109th Road, received two consecutive A’s on the city Department of Education’s progress report the year before and the year after Ofori-Feaster took over as the school’s principal, but the last two years it has received C’s.

And last year it got an F for school environment.

PTA President Jasmin Farrier is leading a campaign of upset parents and teachers to have Ofori-Feaster removed.

The principal’s critics have a long list of grievances against her, including claims the school went two years without math and reading materials after she removed them, that she fired an aide over their school’s PA system and that once tensions really started to escalate, she banned parents from entering the building.

Ofori-Feaster did not respond to a request for comment and DOE declined to comment.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said a number of teachers and parents have contacted his office and he was aware of the many complaints against the principal.

“The DOE says they’re aware of the claims and they’re working on it, but they won’t divulge any more,” he said. “Clearly there are some problems.”

Farrier, who has a son and a daughter enrolled in the school, said she was not aware that there were problems until an argument broke out between the principal and the former PTA president in 2010.

Still, she said, the principal seemed amenable at first.

“Her door was always open. By the end of the school year, I decided to run for PTA president. I was ecstatic she was going to be working with us,” she said. But Farrier said conditions at the school have deteriorated since then. She said Ofori-Feaster cut back on staff last year and has instituted mass-preparation sessions, when the teachers gather to prepare their lesson plans.

She said during this time about 100 students are supervised by three or four teachers in either the schoolyard or the gym, leading to several injuries and even one instance in which a child wandered off.

One teacher, who requested that her name not be used for fear of retribution, said Ofori-Feaster’s policies are erratic and inconstant.

“I’ve never seen so much chaos over the 10 years that I’ve been there,” she said.

Farrier contends Ofori-Feaster is unfit to run the school and she is calling on the DOE to have her removed.

“There are so many disconnects here. The principal and the administration function as one entity, the parents function as another and the children as another,” she said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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