History of leadership crises at Zoo School
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%.