Bay Ridge

Poly Prep begins search for new headmaster

David Harman stepping down after 2015-2016 school year

September 3, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Poly Prep’s clock tower is one of the most well known features of the campus. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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In the wake of a surprising announcement from the headmaster of prestigious Poly Prep Country Day School that he plans to leave his job at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, the co-chairs of the school’s board of trustees said they will immediately begin a search for a new headmaster.

David Harman, who has been at the helm of Poly Prep for 15 years, announced in a letter posted on the school’s website on Sept. 1 that he plans to step down at the end of the school year.

Susanna Furfaro and Robert Sabbagh, interim co-chairs of the board of trustees, posted a statement on behalf of the board on the Poly Prep website praising Harman and vowing to find a suitable successor to lead the school.

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“The Board is forming a search committee comprising current parents, alumni, trustees, faculty, and respected educators who will work together with a proven educational search consultant to identify candidates, evaluate them, and ultimately select a new Head of Poly. As part of this process, we will be seeking and value the input from the Poly community on the important characteristics and qualifications in a new Headmaster. We will be providing further details toward the end of this month about that process, and the steps we and David are taking together to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” Furfaro and Sabbagh wrote. 

Poly Prep, which has two campuses, one at 9216 Seventh Ave. in Dyker Heights and one at 50 Prospect Park West in Park Slope, has been rocked by scandal in recent years.

Several former students came forward and charged that the school’s late football coach, Phil Foglietta, had sexually abused them as children. The school issued a formal apology to the victims in 2014.

In May, Lisa Della Pietra, a former employee of the school, filed a lawsuit against Poly Prep in which she charged that the school failed to protect her from retaliation when she was working there and had alleged that her immediate supervisor had taken two students to on school-sponsored a trip to Cuba where booze and prostitution were involved.

Harman mentioned the lawsuit in passing in his retirement announcement.

“The school is in great shape, the current lawsuit notwithstanding, but I have always said to the students and faculty that all of us can be better than we were, and I aspire to model that mantra personally and for Poly again this year,” Harman wrote.

In his statement, Harman said he was proud of what he had accomplished at Poly Prep, but that it was time to go.

“By next summer, I will be pushing 68, and after much reflection and many conversations with my wife Kristin, my family and others, I have concluded that it is the right time for me and for the school to make this change. I am ready to start a new direction in my life and am confident this is the best time for Poly to transition to a new leader who can take the school forward to even greater success. With mixed emotions, I came to this decision just recently and informed the Board of Trustees and senior administrative team last week and the faculty and staff at our opening meeting today,” he wrote.

Harman vowed to “give Poly my all this year” and to “leave our school in the strongest possible shape” for his successor.

“The Board is deeply grateful for David’s leadership, energy, and devotion to the school and all that he has accomplished for Poly Prep over the past 15 years. As a teacher and educator, he has timed his departure for when he knows we will be prepared to make a smooth transition into the next chapter of our exciting future as a school and community,” Furaro and Sabbagh wrote.

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