Cashin: ‘I Have to Deliver The Goods’
Kathleen Cashin, the newly-appointed Region-al Superintendent for School Division Five, which includes all of the Rockaway schools including Beach Channel and Far Rockaway High Schools, came to Rock-away last week to listen to the concerns of parents and to outline her priorities for Rockaway Schools.
"Being here means so much to me, it’s a real honor," Cashin told the overflow crowd at Lew Simon’s Democratic clubhouse a week ago Thursday. "The honor of having the job, however, does not last too long. I have to deliver the goods, and I will."
Cashin told the crowd that she was "driven" by the notion that "every child deserves an excellent education."
"I know that there are problems in our schools," she said. "Together we can fix any problem. I want this to be the most collaborative, most harmonious division in the city."
"You can’t turn your back on problems," she added. "They do not go away by not addressing them."
After a short presentation, during which Cashin moved around the room, talking directly to those who questioned her, using first names, making lots of eye contact, she took questions from the audience.
The bulk of the questions came from two constituencies: parents and staff from Beach Channel High School and parents from PS 114 in Belle Harbor.
Both groups wanted to talk about principals.
The PS 114 parents wanted to talk about their problem with principal Lisa Vecchione. The school’s Parent Association argues that Vecchione will not work with parents, that she shuns parental input as well as input from her staff.
Keith Goldberg, the association’s treasurer, asked Cashin about her view of school leadership teams.
"There has to be regular communication," she said. "That communication has to be both informal and respectful as well as formal and structured. If everybody on the teams focused on what is good for the children rather than on their own egos or priorities, then that would affect the decision-making process."
"There should be no ego, power trips or personal interests," she added. "It should not be parents against administrators or administrators against teachers."
She refused to comment, however, on the specific problem at PS 114 because she was not yet in a position to know what was actually going on at the school.
The contingent from Beach Channel High School wanted Cashin to assist them in expediting the selection of a principal for the school.
Two of the candidates for the position were present at the meeting, as well as the president of the school’s parent association.
Again, Cashin said that she was not yet in a position to comment on the specifics.
"I don’t have the job yet," she told the audience, advising them that, although local school superintendent Matt Bromme has already left for his new position at Tweed Courthouse, she was still technically assigned to District 25 and would be so for at least a few more months.
"I work for you," she told the parents. "I won’t hide from your problems."
Cashin is expected to choose her "ten or twelve" local "instructional supervisors shortly."
"I will work with them to come up with the best way that they can address the schools they will work with," she said.
"All I can promise you now is that I will choose the best ten or twelve people for the job that I can find."