Shaw Avenue Principal Christopher Colarossi is resigning and stepping away from Valley Stream District 30, bringing an abrupt end to a more than three-year run. Colarossi was elevated to his position in 2019 after serving as the school’s assistant principal in 2015.
The Valley Stream District Board of Education officially accepted his letter of resignation at its regular business meeting on May 15. His last day will be June 30.
The decision has sent shock waves through the Shaw Avenue community. Details about the circumstances surrounding Colarossi’s departure seem to be veiled in secrecy, adding to the surprising nature of the news.
When asked if parents were given prior notice of Colarossi’s resignation in the lead-up to the board meeting, Superintendent Roxanne Garcia-France said, “The district does not comment on personnel matters.”
But parents said that news of Colarossi’s impending departure had been circulating quietly among grief-stricken parents and teachers for days ahead of the May 15 meeting. That was enough to drive a phalanx of restless parents to the Shaw Avenue auditorium, where a few, including the school’s Parent Teacher Association leaders, sought to air their grievances before the board.
Board President Kelly Ureña — likely anticipating questions about Colarossi’s departure — opened the meeting to public comments with a comment of her own: “Please remember that we will listen to your commentary, but we cannot respond as a board, nor can we discuss individual personnel matters at large.”
It soon, however, became clear that parents had not come seeking answers. Instead, facing the crowd of residents and teachers, they each seized their allotted three minutes to deliver an outpouring of praise for Colarossi’s performance as principal and to urge board members to table taking a vote to accept his resignation.
“As a past PTA president. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with our current principal very closely. I’ve not seen another administrator being so hands-on and putting the children, families, and community first,” said PTA member and parent Shabeena Shakur, holding back tears.
“He’s out there most mornings on arrival to make sure the students are entering the building safely, even in the rain with an umbrella,” Shakur continued. “He constantly checks in with the PTA. He knows every parent and student by name. He genuinely cares about the well-being of each and every one of us.”
“It’s great to see Principal Colarossi’s presence at dismissal time when he’s greeting everyone,” said PTA President Jose Paulino. “He cheered on our children during the robotics competition, taking time from his family on weekends to support our Shaw family. He welcomes us virtually from his home as he makes pizza for International Night. And even dressing up as the Cowardly Lion for Halloween to partake in the fun of the day with our kids.”
Despite repeated pleas to table the decision, however, the board voted unanimously to accept Colarossi’s resignation along with a suite of other staff replacements and promotions.
Garcia-France later refused to comment on speculations made by Paulino and other parents that the school hasn’t had a tenured principal in 14 years and that the administration’s refusal to grant Colarossi tenure had ultimately driven his decision to leave.
Colarossi, in an interview with the Herald, also refused to comment on his reasons for leaving or his plans for the future. Instead, in a message to parents, he bid a bittersweet goodbye to the community.
“It’s been an honor serving the Shaw Avenue students, families, and staff during my time in Valley Stream,” he said. “We’ve transformed from many individual families to one large Shaw Avenue family.”
“I’m proud of what we’ve created in the past 8 years with stronger learning experiences for our kids, and I only hope my contributions will shine in the smiles and linger in the learning for a long time to come,” he added.
Looking toward the future, the superintendent remained tight-lipped about how and when her administration and the board will plan to hire a new principal to fill the vacuum of leadership left by Colarossi. Whoever takes over will likely have to exert a calm, stable influence on families and students, some of whom are disillusioned by the board’s decision and face mounting feelings of uncertainty for the future.
“Speaking as a parent, I value stability in leadership. My daughters who are in third grade are just getting used to the new set of assistant principals at Shaw Avenue. And suddenly I hear that the principal is leaving our school,” said Paulino. “I’ve seen nothing but love that this man has shown to this school.”
Shaw parent Jackie Cortez said she felt sick to her stomach when she heard the news of another shakeup in leadership and expressed frustration at the board’s inability to hold down a principal.
“My oldest child has experienced two different school principals and he’s only in the fifth grade. Principal Colarossi has led our school during the most trying times of our children’s lives throughout Covid and had to face his own changes in administration,” said Cortez.
“How are we to build stable relationships when at any given moment a principal has to leave? How are we supposed to feel a strong sense of security, belonging, and trust in this community? We need answers from this board, not for ourselves as parents but for our children,” she added.
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