His­tory of lead­er­ship crises at Zoo School

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY BEN CHAP­MAN With Kerry Burke

THERE’S BEEN a cri­sis in lead­er­ship at the Bronx high school where a stu­dent was stabbed to death dur­ing a fight in his­tory class.

City Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment em­ploy­ment data shows a case of mu­si­cal chairs in the prin­ci­pal’s of­fice at the Ur­ban As­sem­bly School for Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion — and teach­ers say it’s left the place a mess.

Found­ing Prin­ci­pal Mark Ossen­heimer stayed at the spe­cialty high school for seven years but left in 2014 when he was pro­moted to di­rec­tor of the city’s Of­fice of School Qual­ity, a po­si­tion he still holds.

Ossen­heimer was re­placed by Latir Primus, who had been an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at the Bronx school. But Primus left the po­si­tion just a year later.

Records show he was de­moted to as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal and moved to Lab­o­ra­tory School of Fi­nance and Tech­nol­ogy. Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment of­fi­cials wouldn’t say why.

Cur­rent prin­ci­pal Astrid Ja­cobo re­placed Primus.

Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment of­fi­cials said that none of the lead­ers at Ur­ban As­sem­bly — nick­named the “Zoo School” for its fo­cus on wildlife — have any dis­ci­plinary his­tory.

And none of them re­sponded to emails seek­ing com­ment.

But the school has suf­fered amid the turnover.

“The turnover in prin­ci­pals around here is brisk,” said a teacher who de­clined to be named.

“It’s like that at a lot of trou­bled schools,” the teacher added. “No one is ever re­ally in charge be­cause no one is in charge long enough.”

A poll of Wildlife teach­ers from the 2015-2016 school year showed only 37% of in­struc­tors thought their prin­ci­pal was an ef­fec­tive leader, far lower than the city­wide av­er­age of 79%.

Only 31% of the school’s teach­ers said they could trust their prin­ci­pal, a frac­tion of the city­wide av­er­age of 78%.

And just 31% of teach­ers re­ported that staffers col­lab­o­rated to make the school run ef­fec­tively, be­low the city­wide av­er­age of 84%.

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