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Sunday, December 21, 2014
Popular principal leaves Lincoln Orens
Parents vent at rancorous board meeting
Courtesy of NYC Department of Education
John Barnes at a Manhattan convention in an undated photo. Barnes abruptly resigned as principal of Lincoln Orens Middle School to take a position in New Rochelle, New York.

Many Island Park parents were surprised when they received a late June newsletter from Island Park superintendent Dr. Rosemarie Bovino that said, “I was notified last Friday that Lincoln Orens principal John Barnes will not be returning in September. He will have a much easier commute from the Bronx to his new job in New Rochelle.”

Several parents called the Herald to say that they were at first perplexed by the fact that a popular school administrator was leaving the district with little notice and without saying goodbye and then angered by the lack of information as to why he had resigned his position. The parents got together over coffee a few days after the notice was given.

“Barnes told the kids in June that he would see them in September,” said one parent of a seventh grader who asked not to be identified because she fears “negative retaliation.”

“Why would he leave like that? He brought light out of the darkness that the school had become. He loved and respected the kids and they returned that love and respect. He stopped bullying in the school. He was the perfect principal and then he just up and left with no explanation, no goodbye to the kids. They are devastated. My son does not want to go back to school.”

The parents got together a petition calling on Bovino to do what she could to bring Barnes back to Island Park, even though the information the parents heard through the grapevine was that he had taken a better-paying job closer to home. The parents quickly got 300 signatures. More than 100 parents and students crowded the Island Park school board meeting on July 6, angrily demanding to know why Barnes was leaving and to demand that Bovino bring him back.

Forty parents and students spoke. Some were openly angry at the former principal’s leaving. Others got emotional and cried at the thought. School board members and Bovino told them that it was a simple matter of Barnes finding a new, better-paying job closer to home.

Parents, however, do not believe that. At the meeting, the parents challenged Bovino and board members to provide “the real truth about why Barnes abruptly resigned a job” that he repeatedly said that he loved.

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