Mon, Jun 24, 8:03 PM (12 hours ago)
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‘Fame’ High School Principal Leaving Post After Student Protests
Students and faculty say Lisa Mars hasn’t prioritized the arts enough in her push for strong academics at the Manhattan public school
Principal Lisa Mars will join the city Department of Education this summer in a senior post in academic instruction, according to the head of the city principals union.
A Department of Education spokesman didn’t confirm the change. Dr. Mars didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Before the announcement, questions mounted about her future when she didn’t attend graduation Monday, held at Lincoln Center.
The Upper West Side school hit the spotlight in the 1980 film “Fame.” In recent days, some seniors had threatened to turn their backs on Dr. Mars during the graduation ceremony and avoid shaking her hand.
Last month many held a sit-in to call for more focus on arts education, and heavier weighting of artistic talent in admissions at the public school, formally called Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Alumni include a host of actors, artists and entertainers, including Al Pacino, Eartha Kitt, Jennifer Aniston and Wesley Snipes.
Tension about how to balance arts and academics had simmered for years, even before Dr. Mars arrived in 2013, and grew more intense in recent months, said students and faculty. Some said there was more pressure to take Advanced Placement classes, some arts classes were cut, and rehearsal time was reduced, among other changes.
The faculty union held a poll this spring in which 88% of participants said they had no confidence in Dr. Mars, said Richard Titone, a music teacher. The faculty, he said, has had less say in admissions, and some brilliant young musicians were rejected due to their middle-school grades.
“There was less input from teaching artists,” Mr. Titone said. “There was no ability to compromise.”
Admission is highly competitive. Students must audition and supply academic records.
This high-achieving specialized high school, with a 99%-graduation rate last year, is more diverse than eight elite public high schools where admission is determined by a single exam. That test, which has fierce critics and staunch defenders, has been at the center of debate about fair access to opportunity.
Among LaGuardia’s 2,800 students last year, 46% were white, 20% Asian, 18% Hispanic and 10% black by city data. It said 31% faced economic hardship, compared with 71% of students in the system.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, said Dr. Mars had been considering a department offer of a new position long before the spring protests.
When she arrived at LaGuardia, senior department officials were concerned there wasn’t enough emphasis on academics, he said, and she valued the arts while pursuing curricular rigor.
“I’ve been to outstanding performances there, like nothing I’ve ever seen before by high-school students,” Mr. Cannizzaro said. “I don’t think anyone could fairly say it wasn’t focused on the arts.”
Write to Leslie Brody at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've seen no news reports but this petition has been signed by almost 15,000 people. I don't see how a principal would be barred unless students planned to protest her being there and the DOE caves. Now if there's a back story and alumni with pull have gotten to the DOE then this could be possible.
Principal Barred From LaGuardia's Graduation!
In response to years of overwhelming evidence of incompetence, as well as the public outcry from concerned people like you, the Department of Education has finally taken action: Principal Lisa Mars has been barred from attending graduation of the 2019 class!
This is only the beginning of LaGuardia's renaissance. We are committed to restoring the beleaguered arts programs of our school, with leadership who understands the importance of talent over tests.
Stay tuned for more news this coming week!
Here are some articles.