They also called out Superintendent's Representative Frances DeSanctis for criticizing the school community for putting out "fake news."
The student journalists in the school newspaper called The Classic are defended by the Assembly Members and by a member of the local Queens press.
Here is part of an article from DNA Info on the Townsend Harris controversy concerning their Interim Acting Principal.
In a letter addressed to Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina, Mayor Bill de Blasio and District 26 Superintendent Elaine Lindsey, the top editors of Townsend Harris High School's paper, The Classic, rebutted DOE accusations that their coverage of the controversy over Rosemarie Jahoda since she was appointed the school's interim principal last fall was "fake news."
"We agree that our reporting has been negative about Jahoda, but that doesn’t mean it’s fake," said high school senior and The Classic's Editor-in-Chief, Sumaita Hasan, 17, "We spend so much of our day in school and after school to ensure accuracy in all aspects of the story, but when it’s generalized as 'fake news,' it’s upsetting."
"To label our reporting as 'fake' is to disparage all the hard work we do," Hasan and The Classic's Managing Editor, Mehrose Ahmad, 17, wrote in their Mar. 5 letter to the mayor and schools chancellor. "If we were fabricating our material, we would be able to leave school far earlier than we do."
Among their coverage, the paper has live-streamed a school sit-in against Jahoda, published a secret recording of Jahoda cursing while discussing a meeting with students and reported on accusations that she spends little time observing teachers in the classroom.
The allegations that the paper was disseminating "fake news" came out during a meeting Friday between the DOE and representatives for State Assemblymembers David Weprin and Nily Rozic, an alum of the school. The elected officials had written a letter on Wednesday calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina to intervene in the school's hiring process and oust Jahoda immediately.
During Friday's meeting, Frances DeSanctis, a representative for Superintendent Elaine Lindsey, said that while some people oppose Jahoda's principalship, the controversy around Jahoda's potential appointment was "the result of "'fake news' being widely circulated," according to a Mar. 3 letter written by Weprin and Rozic obtained by DNAinfo New York.
"While Ms. DeSanctis acknowledged community concern [about Jahoda], she did so while referencing the current environment in which "fake news" is being widely circulated. To insinuate that the community's shared concerns could be equated to 'fake news' further demonstrates the lack of transparency and understanding that has guided the" school's hiring process, Rozic and Weprin wrote.
"Dismissing the concerns of the Townsend Harris community as 'fake news' goes against the call to action we as community representatives, we as public servants must foster in our current political climate," they added.
While DeSanctis didn't single out the Classic, the assembly members cited the "students, teachers and parents" at the school who have been willing to speak out publicly about Jahoda's actions, most of which were first reported by the school paper.
In the current political climate, I would not be surprised if "my way or the highway" Chancellor Farina appointed Jahoda permanently just to show everyone who is boss.
As for the student editors of the Classic, Sumaita Hasan and Mehrose Ahmad, we salute you. You are a credit to journalism. No surprise that the Chancellor did not answer your emails looking for comment.
This picture is from DNA INFO.