2003-02-15 / Community

Controversy Grows Over Choice Of BCHS Principal

By Howard Schwach

John Marcus is the acting principal of Beach Channel High School. He will remain so until the schools C-30 Committee, a group of parents, teachers and administers chooses a permanent successor from the candidates that they have been interviewing since late last year.

Marcus, who is not a candidate for the permanent job, knows where he stands.

"Right now, I look at myself as a stabilizing force," the school’s former Assistant Principal for English told The Wave in an interview last week. "I want to move the school forward, to create a new spirit."

Marcus said that, as much as possible, he was going to emulate Bernard Gassaway, the school’s long-time principal who left the school last year for an administrative slot with the Queens High School District.

"We have lost track of what we’re about," the acting principal added. "The real story is the kids who put their bottoms in these seats each day."

While Marcus sits on top to move the school forward, there is a battle going on below the surface for the permanent job that might well have pushed Andrea Holt, the acting principal from September until February 5, from the school.

In the middle of the controversy is Claude Monerau, the school’s Assistant Principal for Foreign Languages.

According to some insiders, Monerau has been leading a campaign for the permanent job even before Holt was chosen to lead the school in September.

The Wave has come into possession of a number of letters and petitions from parent groups, school staff and students decrying Holt’s running of the school and demanding that Monerau be appointed as principal.

"The parent teacher association believes the only way to maintain the continuity and the positive gains made at our school is by the selection of Claude Monerau as principal," a July letter to John Lee, the Superintendent of Queens High Schools, said.

Just a few weeks ago, The Wave ran a story about a petition circulated by four student leaders and the fact that they had gathered nearly 1,000 signatures demanding that Monerau be named principal.

There are those, however, who believe that Monerau has been orchestrating the cry for his selection as principal.

Joe Gargiulo, the assistant engineer for the school told The Wave earlier this year, "Holt has been here for three months, and the people undermining her are doing so for their own agenda."

"Holt is a strong Black woman who wants to do what’s best for the kids," Gargiulo added. "They (the other assistant principals) attacked her right from the beginning and convinced the parents that she was not doing the job."

A parent of one of the students who brought in the petition to The Wave, and who asked to remain anonymous, said, "The implication in your article that the students support him (Monerau) for principal and voluntarily made up the petition is totally erroneous. The teachers in his department had ‘encouraged,’ instructed and even hinted at increased grades if he got the signatures on the petition."

"The teachers went to the younger students, because they knew the older students, who dealt with Monerau when he was AP for security, would never sign such a petition."

Because the C-30 process is, by law, a secret one, there was no indication at press time as to when the committee would finish its work or who the final candidates might be


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