Central Park East 1 is an elementary school in East Harlem with a forty-year history of progressive, child-centered education. During recent years of endless education reforms, the school has grappled with how to balance its commitment to equity and progressive pedagogy with increasingly politicized demands for data and high-stakes testing. Its opt-out rate last year was 81%. In a city of all too many segregated schools, Central Park East 1 is uniquely integrated and diverse.
Over the last nine months, Principal Monika Garg and Superintendent Alexandra Estrella have ignored the outreach and concerns of large groups of parents and the School Leadership Team (SLT), disregarded longstanding democratic policies and practices of our community, launched investigations of tenured teachers, and subjected young children to interviews by the principal and an unknown man--believed to be Deputy Superintendent Thomas McBryde and/or an officer from from the city’s special investigations unit. These interviews of children were conducted without notifying parents and without a rationale for their necessity. No precautions were taken to ensure children’s psychological and emotional safety. These actions, some of the most egregious in a very long list, reveal a disturbing pattern of administrative mistreatment of our community.
It is for the above reasons that we, the undersigned, request that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina take the following actions:
Remove the current school leader, Ms. Monika Garg, from her post
Provide external oversight, transparency, and authentic community engagement in a process to hire a new principal (referred to as the C-30), including a temporary interim acting school leader if necessary
- Establish a separate district to better support the unique needs of progressive schools