The principal of a high-profile Manhattan public school is stepping down after becoming a lighting rod for criticism earlier this year when a teacher showed children an anti-abortion video in class.
Iris Chiu, the principal of PS 184, also known as the Shuang Wen School, is expected to retire next month, according to two parents who said she announced on a parent-teacher forum that her last day would be in August. The Daily News saw screenshots of the announcement.
“I’m happy that the principal is gone,” said Ishmael Alvarado, whose 11-year-old daughter was one of the students who viewed the video in class.
Alvarado, 52, said District 1 Schools Superintendent Carry Chan, who oversees PS 184, told him that the teacher responsible for screening the video, Ju Ling Wei, had been “reprimanded.”
The city Department of Education did not respond to questions about Wei, but confirmed that Chiu is retiring.
“We thank Principal Chiu for her service,” Education Department spokeswoman Danielle Filson said. “We will name an interim acting principal before the start of the school year, and continue to engage the school community as we search for a new permanent leader.”
The saga over the anti-abortion video began in March when Wei, a dance teacher at the school, showed students a video depicting adolescents pretending to be a fetus in the womb experiencing an abortion.
An outraged Alvarado and other parents demanded an explanation, arguing that the content was far from appropriate for 10- and 11-year-old children.
The distressing video — posted on YouTube and entitled “2018 National Fine Arts Merit Winner — Readers Theater — Life Flight” — features adolescents standing on stage, voicing their interpretation of a fetus’ thoughts as it grows in the womb. The theatrical climax comes when the fetus is going to be terminated.
Asked about the nearly five-minute clip several days after watching it, student Isabella Alvarado recited parts of it word-for-word. “‘It burns, mommy! It burns,'” the youngster said, recalling one particularly arresting line.
Liset Reyes, whose 10-year-old daughter Shiloh Lee Morales viewed the video in class, told the Daily News at the time that the incident was “appalling” and that it brought her to tears.
“She was just not doing her job,” Reyes said of Chiu on Monday. “Action was taken. I’m very, very happy with the outcome.”
Reyes said that Superintendent Chan had reassured her that the curriculum will be reviewed more closely before it’s presented to children.
In her forum note to parents on June 10, Chiu wrote, “I have to go home and take care of my ill and aging parents in Taiwan.
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am for having this opportunity to work, grow and learn with all of you over the years.”
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