The principal of IN-Tech Academy, MS/HS 368, who has headed up the school since it opened its doors in September 2000, will retire on Friday, Oct. 1.
Rose Fairweather-Clunie, 59, was on the institution’s concept committee, helped conceive of IN-Tech and was “the foundation of our school,” Arlene Mackin-Hyland, grant coordinator, said.
The principal announced her retirement on Sept. 20 and said her staff gasped, cried and gave her a standing ovation.
“I’m just so proud to be the founding principal of such a magnificent school,” she said in a phone interview. “While I find sadness in leaving it, there’s another phase in my life that I look forward to live.”
Ms. Fairweather-Clunie said she is five years past her retirement date but waited until one month after school started to break the news because she wanted to make sure the opening went well and that the staff and curriculum were in order.
“I realized last spring that this year was going to be my last year but I wanted to come back in September to provide for a smooth opening of school,” she said.
But, Ms. Fairweather-Clunie’s announcement has raised eyebrows among some local leaders who remember the school’s troubled history.
In June, The Riverdale Press reported that the Department of Education was investigating allegations of corporal punishment at IN-Tech Academy. An eighth grader interviewed by The Press said he had to clean toilets while working off minor classroom infractions.
“It is sort of an odd time to announce retirement, I’m sure there was something behind it, but I don’t know what it is,” Community Education Council president for District 10, Marvin Shelton, said.
The DOE would not comment on the status of the investigation. DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said the investigation is active.
The principal said her retirement has nothing to do with the allegations.
Students interviewed during a rainy dismissal on Monday afternoon said they were sad to see their principal go. They said Ms. Fairweather-Clunie was a good leader because she kept the students in line.
“She has more control over the school,” Diana Valdez, a tenth grader, said. “When she passes by everybody’s quiet.”
“She was a great, great principal.” Jasmelki Tati, a senior, said. “It’s sad to see her go.”
Ms. Fairweather-Clunie said Yvette Allen, the school’s assistant principal, will likely be her replacement but she must undergo an application and interview process and other candidates may apply for the job.
Ms. Fairweather-Clunie said she has mixed feelings about leaving the education world, where she has worked for 39 years, but is excited to do “absolutely nothing” for a while. She added that she has received numerous job offers since her retirement went public and is thinking about working part time as a consultant to new principals and their assistants.
“A lot of good things are happening in my life and I’m ready to enter the next phase,” Ms. Fairweather-Clunie said.