P-TECH principal resigns, fueling accusations about NPS personnel matters

A screengrab from the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) website, showing Principal Karen Amaker center in the front row.

NORWALK, Conn. – Karen Amaker has resigned from her position as P-TECH principal, effective June 30, saying only that her departure was the “best decision for my family and me at this time.”

Amaker’s resignation Monday fueled criticisms of school personnel policy following the unexplained reassignment of P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) instructional specialist Renita Crawford, who is said by Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams and others to have been “railroaded” and “demoted.”

Crawford was reassigned from her administrative role at the high-profile ground-breaking high school to be a history teacher at Brien McMahon High School in mid-March, while Amaker was out on leave, multiple sources said. Crawford has declined comment. Penn-Williams, her Godmother, said Crawford does not know why she was reassigned.

Asked about Crawford on March 24, Amaker said she was “not at liberty to comment on personnel matters.” Amaker did not reply to a late Monday email asking why she is resigning.

In a letter Monday to the P-TECH community, Amaker said she was resigning with “mixed emotions,” making the “best decision for my family and me at this time.”

Amaker had been out on family leave, Penn-Williams and others said.

Last week, Penn-Williams alleged that Amaker was told to backdate negative evaluations on Crawford and refused. On Monday, Penn-Williams voiced suspicions that Amaker had resigned due to the Crawford demotion. NancyOnNorwalk received an email from a citizen who cited the same concern.

Norwalk Public Schools, in a statement regarding Crawford, said, “As you know, out of respect for the privacy of our employees, it is not our practice (or typically that of any employer) to comment publicly on personnel matters.” NPS did not respond to a Monday email about Amaker.

In 2014, Amaker was appointed as the first leader for what was then called the Norwalk Early College Academy – the state’s first P-Tech Academy, where select students earn a high school diploma while simultaneously working toward a Norwalk Community College Associate’s Degree. It’s partnership that includes IBM. Amaker was Norwalk High School D-House Headmaster when she was hired as the pilot school’s first principal and was called the best choice available from 57 applicants by then-Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera.

Amaker, in Monday’s letter to the P-TECH community, said, “I am most appreciative of having had the opportunity to serve as school counselor, department chair, assistant principal, and principal during my 15-year tenure in Norwalk Public Schools. My crowning achievement was being selected as the founding principal of P-TECH Norwalk, Connecticut’s first 9 – 14 high school, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

She continued:

“P-TECH is a model of success not just in Norwalk but around the globe! Our accomplishments have been many, specifically here at home and in partnership with IBM and Norwalk Community College. As a dual-enrollment school, we have graduated over 45 early college grads and assisted hundreds of students in earning college credit while in high school. Many early college grads have been hired into IBM’s engineering, programming, and tech-related jobs. We carried out our mission to change the face of STEM — 41% of scholars are female. We also created life-changing opportunities through our academic programs and workforce-readiness initiatives — over 100 students have participated in IBM’s paid internship program.

“Additionally, our graduates have been accepted to some of the country’s top schools. I am immensely proud to have been a part of this community!”


She said, “Despite my decision to leave, I am confident that P-TECH will continue to thrive as an outstanding academic institution for all learners.”

Updated, 11:48 p.m.: Edits.


Shady April 12, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Shady is not even the word for Norwalk’s personnel practices. They act like their pay rate justifies treating people like chess pieces, but as you can see there is a mass exodus from Norwalk. The district consistently has 70+ vacancies and doesn’t seem to be able to fill any fast enough to cover those exiting. If you dare ask why… well you all can see in the articles posted here what happens to those who dare ask questions about illegal, unprofessional and immoral management practices. Norwalk students deserve better. Teachers can hardly keep up with the contradictory, clueless and unrealistic edicts handed down from the high six figure bureaucrats who close their office door and NEVER have to answer questions, meanwhile the children and parents have no one else to ask but the teachers who have the metaphorical knife to their throats at all times. This has got to stop. This is not how you treat the teachers, students or parents in Norwalk.

Pat April 13, 2022 at 9:18 am

Teachers are leaving Norwalk Public Schools in masses.
The over-the-top Superintendent, the BOE’s decisions, the merry-go-round of administrators, and the edict from Central Office that teachers can no longer discipline students who misbehave are the key contributors.
Throw in the fact that we have so many students sneaking in from Bridgeport, and nothing is done about it.
Many outstanding teachers are burnt out and feel as if Downtown is out to get them. Morale is at its lowest.
We are now Bridgeport.
The superintendent sometimes visits schools and it puts the entire staff on edge when she says things like “Why is that student not wearing a mask?!” And “Why is your door cracked open?!”
Who wants to work/teach under these conditions when they could go nextdoor and TEACH FREELY (and high performing kids) in Westport, New Canaan, Wilton, and Darien.
This is not the Norwalk Public Schools of 30 years ago. Heck, it’s not even the same NPS as three years ago.

DrewT April 13, 2022 at 11:57 am

Where is Mary and her Union!??! What are they doing to protect their teachers from any repercussions speaking out and up?!?! Oh that’s right the Union President is also an NPS Employee… Just keep paying your dues please…

Piberman April 14, 2022 at 5:25 pm

To Shady:
Is the solution for much better public school management to have dissatisfied parents write letters of protest to Mayor Rilling ? To Common Council members ?

Or to ;put the house up for sale and move to a community proud of its public schools ?

Read the writing on the wall April 14, 2022 at 5:34 pm

How many principals (great ones) have to leave this district until people realize what’s going on? Look at the last two years and how many have left “for personal reasons!” And when great principals leave, great teachers follow. Morale is so low under this current administration. Everyone is sick of being treated like garbage. Read the writing on the wall! This administration is driving great people out.

Shady April 17, 2022 at 10:13 am

To Piberman:
It’s not my job to suggest a solution I am simply sharing my first hand experiences. Given the number of very well compensated central office personnel, I’m not the one you should be asking.

Norwalk Resident Family May 2, 2022 at 5:28 pm

I knew Estrella was bad news from the start. Residents and school staff are taking notice. Dont think we dont see whats going on behind closed doors.

Teachers are leaving en masse. This is because she is a poor leader. To understand her character you only need to see this older article where she was the main emcee for an event where a school official did an overly sexual drag queen dance on stage in front of everyone. Horrible.


“””””Kiddie choirs. Children’s piano recitals. And a full-on, erotic drag show complete with gyrations, tongue gymnastics and a flashed G-string.

Families at a Manhattan public school talent show got an unexpected lesson in human sexuality when a grown man took the stage in a black, sequined dress and flaming red wig and performed a raunchy drag number where he grinded the stage and spread his legs.””””

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