The New York Times

Parents Occupy NYC School in Protest of ‘Worst Principal in the City'

What to Know

  • Parents stayed inside Central Park East I elementary school in East Harlem overnight in protest of principal Monika Garg
  • They say she's created a culture of fear among students and teachers
  • One parent defended the principal, saying she's just following Department of Education rules and has provided consistency at the school

Some parents in East Harlem have staged an occupation at their children's school, fuming over who they call the "worst principal in the city." 

Eight parents stayed inside Central Park East I Elementary School overnight in protest of Monika Garg. When they emerged Friday morning, dozens of other parents greeted them in support, holding signs demanding Garg's resignation. 

They claim Garg has created a culture of fear in students. Some parents said Garg interviewed their children without consent, then used that information to fire teachers they love.

"This is unacceptable. No parent would stand for this," said parent Anika Tam.

"We demanded her resignation and Monika said, 'I'm not going anywhere,'" said parent Bonnie Massey. "So we said, 'Well we're not either.'"

At least one parent, however, said Garg is just doing her job. Other parents are calling the protest an overreaction.

"She has growing to do, but this school has had how many principals in the last 10 years? Three or four principals. And there hasn't been consistency. What she's come in and doing is following DOE rules," said Andre Watkins. "Monika is doing her job. She's the best thing that's happened to the school in a long time."

The school has had a progressive approach to learning before Garg arrived, and critics say she's abandoned that in favor of trying to make the school more traditional and standardized, the New York Times reports

The District 4 senior superintendent met with parents Friday and a team of experts will be convened to advise the school on what to do moving forward, the Department of Education said in a statement.

"Parents are part of every provess at CPE I. Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo met with parents again this morning to discuss specific concerns, challenges and solutions to move the school forward," DOE Spokeswoman Toya Holness said in a statement. "Our focus is what's best for students, and we have heard a range of perspectives on how to reunite the school community. We're convening a team of department experts from the instructional, supervisory, family engagement and school climate divisions to meet with and advise the school and chart the path ahead."

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