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.”
“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.