2004-08-13 / Front Page

Cashin Defends Change of Principal For FRHS

By Miriam Rosenberg

Contributing Editor

When the new school year begins at Far Rockaway High School next month students and parents will find a new person sitting in the principal’s chair – Denise Hallett.

Cheryll Jones, who took over as principal in 2001, was forced to retire at the end of the 2003-2004 school year.

Jones’ forced retirement became public on June 28, when Chancellor Joel Klein announced that 45 principals were being removed for poor performance. According to a press release by the Department of Education (DOE) those who lost their jobs either had received, or were in danger of receiving, unsatisfactory ratings in their job performance evaluations.

Dr. Kathleen Cashin, Region 5 Supervisor, spoke with The Wave about her decision to replace Jones.

“My job is to address the issues and fix it [problems at the school],” explained Cashin.

“The school has had issues for a long time. [Jones] was there for three years, and the school became an impact school while she was there.

“When am I going to address these issues?” asked Cashin. “Every time we delay, some child loses out.”

At the time of the announcement of Jones’ retirement, many parents of Far Rockaway High School students questioned the wisdom of letting Jones go.

In a June 28 letter to Cashin, the outgoing members of the Parents Association at the school asked the Region 5 Supervisor to reconsider her decision.

The letter points out that Jones has the admiration and respect of the faculty and has proven her dedication to the students.

“Her impact has increased morale and turned the school around in a positive direction,” wrote the FRHS Parents Association about Jones.

“This year Far Rockaway High School had the highest number of graduating students in the last five years. Also both reading and math scores increased significantly.”

Cashin understands that there are those who support the former principal, yet she has also had parents who were not supportive of Jones.

“There are others who are displeased [with Jones],” said Cashin about those with whom she has spoken. “Members of the community have expressed concern.”

Colvin Goddard, the new president of the Far Rockaway High School Parents’ Association, said that he took Jones at her word that she wanted to retire and would have no comment unless he discovered otherwise.

Cashin also called untrue the allegations of Ray Taruskin – a teacher, dean and UFT leader at the school. In a letter to The Wave, Taruskin charged that Jones was “punished” because Cashin did not like the reception, from both students and faculty, when she would visit the school.

“I don’t make decisions based on occurrence, but on studying the performance of staff over time and making decisions on what’s best for the children.” said Cashin.

“That school, for a long time, has been going in the wrong direction, Cashin added.”

According to Cashin, the school’s new principal Hallett, comes from a school comparable to FRHS.

Hallet was previously Assistant Principal of Security and Assistant Principal of Administration at Robeson High School in Brooklyn.

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