Shake up at Fort Hamilton High School

September 19, 2012 Denise Romano
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As this paper went to press, rumors were rife that Wednesday, September 19 would be the last day on the job for Fort Hamilton High School Principal Jo Ann Chester.

Sources said that Chester would resign on that day, after an extended holiday that closed all city public schools in observance of Rosh Hashanah.

Chester was allegedly involved in financial legerdemain, in which she reportedly hired substitute teachers for extended periods of time, but instead of paying them the proper full-time salary for their lengthened hours, kept them on a substitute teacher payroll, reportedly in hopes of stretching her budget.

In addition, the Department of Education had referred the Shore Road school to the city’s Special Commissioner of Investigation in February to look into its Regent’s exam scores.

Sources said that the DOE will appoint an interim principal, but the agency did not return calls seeking comment as this paper went to press.

Students said they were surprised by the news.

“I feel like Fort Hamilton has lost a great leader and principal,” commented recent graduate Jamie Mallette, adding that Chester was principal for about a decade. “During my time there, I got to know her. She was dedicated to doing what was best for the school. She was super nice to students and involved with the assistant principals and teachers.”

Bay Ridge resident Kristina F., who also had attended Fort Hamilton, agreed. “I was really close with her since I was in National Honor Society,” she said. “To me, she was awesome and great. She was always kind, looking into my future with me and was supportive.”

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