Gotham Schools reported this morning that the ouster of embattled Fort Hamilton High School principal Jo Ann Chester could come as soon as tomorrow, when students and teachers will return from a four day weekend.
Reporter Geoff Decker wrote that “the school’s beleaguered principal appears to be planning her exit, according to multiple people close to the school.”
In August, the same news site had reported on the city Department of Education’s investigation into a purported scheme by the principal to underpay fourteen newly certified teachers.
The fraud allegedly allowed Chester a way around a three-year-old hiring freeze, and prevented the school from being sent short-term substitute instructors from the Absent Teacher Reserve – a pool of city teachers without permanent positions.
By using subs for more than a year without officially adding them to the staff, the paperwork hocus pocus also “saved the school hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Chester’s exit strategy, according to one source, would involve her early retirement.
Gotham Schools is also reporting that any back pay compensation to the aggrieved teachers, which could get well into six figure territory, would have to come out of Fort Hamilton’s operating budget.
Prior to the teacher pay scandal, the school was the subject of a DOE probe stemming from an unusually high number of just-passing grades on statewide Regents exams taken by students – which had prompted suspicions of cheating.
While a city spokeswoman told the website that no change had been made to Fort Hamilton’s leadership, Chester was reportedly seen cleaning out her office by school staff last week. New York City public schools were closed yesterday and today for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.