After months of simmering discontent among some parents against Monika Garg, principal of Central Park East 1, an East Harlem elementary school, Carmen Fariña, chancellor of the city’s schools announced May12, she was appointing a supervisor to oversee the Indian-American principal. The opposition to Garg reached a climax April 6, when some parents staged a sit-in at the school and demanded Mayor Bill de Blasio act on the matter.
Dolores Esposito, the education department’s executive superintendent of leadership, became Garg’s supervisor starting May 15.
“While there are varying perspectives, the conflict within the CPE 1 community must be resolved,” Fariña said in a statement quoted in the New York Times. “Dolores will oversee CPE 1 and report to me, working closely with Ms. Garg and families to support students and teachers,” Farina added.
For many months now, several parents of the East Harlem school have been demanding Garg’s ouster alleging she does not understand the diverse nature of the school and its progressive agenda. On April 6, more than 100 parents staged a sit-in April 6 night that required a police presence. The Mayor had promised in radio shows that his department of education would look into the matter.
Principal Garg, who was appointed to head Central Park East 1, in mid-2015, began to be criticized by some parents just a few months into her term, alleging she lacked experience and did not understand the goals of the school.
One post about the school on savecpe1.org from nearly a year ago (July 2, 2016), claims, “Because of Monika Garg’s actions at least 6 families have left the school and 5 teachers have either chosen to retire or leave the school. She lies, bullies and abuses her power. One of the best schools in the district destroyed in less than a year.” Garg has denied the claims.
Garg served previously as assistant principal at PanAmerican International High School from 2013-2015, At CPE 1, some parents complained they had not been consulted on the appointment of the new principal, and that Garg changed the goals of the “Comprehensive Education Plan” without consulting the School Leadership Team. They also claimed that Garg “In a newsletter to parents … promoted the idea that progressive education is harmful to children of color.” Attempts to discuss matters with Garg, they say, failed, and when she met them, did not offer explanations about changes.
However, the principal of CPEII Bennett Lieberman, the sister school of CPE1, said the school that Garg now heads, had problems even before the Indian-American principal took office. “We witnessed high levels of dysfunction in the building prior to Monika being hired. I witnessed it firsthand. Never once did I hear anybody speak out in similar fashion, not once,” Lieberman is quoted saying in the Times.