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Crown Heights Principal Removed After Reports of Bullying, Misconduct

The principal of P.S. 243, Karen Hambright-Glover, was fired on Tuesday and replaced by DOE veteran Judith James.
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Karen Hambright-Glover has been removed from her post as principal of P.S. 243.
By: Megan McGibney

Karen Hambright-Glover, principal of P.S. 243 in Crown Heights, has been removed from her role at the school, after 17 years, following numerous reports of bullying and misconduct

On Tuesday, the Department of Education’s Brooklyn North Borough Office announced a change in leadership by naming veteran DOE employee Judith James as its new acting principal, effective immediately.

P.S. 243's new principal, Judith James. Photo: Twitter.

According to Brooklyn North, James has worked for the DOE for 26 years and in a letter to P.S. 243’s school community it said “she worked as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in Brooklyn and Queens.” Her most recent position was at the district office, helping the area’s schools obtain resources.

“Superintendent Yolanda Martin and I are confident that Ms. James will provide stellar leadership to the school community,” Executive Superintendent Karen Watts said in the letter, adding she and Martin would support and supervise P.S. 243 during this transition period and beyond.

Karen Hambright-Glover, principal of P.S. 243 Photo: CUNY

The announcement comes after Hambright-Glover was accused of years of bullying teachers and parents and making demeaning comments towards special education students. Community Education Council 16 (CEC16) demanded Hambright-Glover’s resignation during winter break and launched a letter writing campaign earlier this month to further call for the principal’s removal. 

“Removing Principal Hambright-Glover is the first step towards ensuring a safe learning space for all members of the P.S. 243 school community,” CEC16 President NeQuan McLean said. ”It is now a priority to address the trauma that staff, families, and students are left to face.”

McLean added that CEC16 will work with the DOE in bringing up P.S. 243’s enrollment numbers after years of decline under Hambright-Glover, and in giving the school’s families and staff what they need to move forward. 

One former P.S. 243 staff member says the news has them feeling vindicated.

“The students, families and staff of The Weeksville School deserve a caring, compassionate leader, who will not dismiss parents' concerns, belittle and bully staff and most importantly be there for all the students — not just a selective few,” the former staff member said, adding they were looking forward to having James as the acting principal. 

“Although I have not worked under her supervision, I feel that Ms. James is a compassionate person, with a world of ideas on how to improve community relations within The Weeksville Community. The staff at The Weeksville School are dedicated to improving the school instructionally as well as emotionally.”

James was the principal of P.S. 30 in Queens until the Panel for Education Policy voted to close it in April 2011 due to poor performance. Her most recent role as principal was at Crown Heights’ P.S. 28, not far from P.S. 243.

Based on a Twitter post, James was principal of the school as late as June 2020. 

P.S. 243. Photo: Google Maps.

According to DOE Press Secretary Nathaniel Styer, Hambright-Glover “has been reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation.”

McLean said the education council hoped she didn’t end up in another school district, “but it’s out of our hands and we’re grateful the district doesn’t have to deal with her.”

He also reiterated the CEC’s role in holding principals the district accountable when it came to misconduct. 

“We’re not anti-principals, we support principals and praise them when they deserve praise,” he said.

“But people have to do what they’re hired to do, and we [CECs] don’t have the privilege to turn our eyes. Addressing isn’t attacking. The wrongs must be identified, brought to light, and made right.”

UPDATE: January 19, 5:00pm — at the request of the source, a word has been changed in a quote in this story to better reflect intent