Parents are rallying in support of a controversial principal of a Fort Greene elementary school accused of hitting a kindergarten teacher last month — but he faces a long road back into the front office.
The Department of Education reassigned Sean Keaton to a non-school job after the alleged attack on PS 20’s union representative during, ironically, a disciplinary hearing — but some parents are clamoring for the headmaster’s return to the Adelphi Street school next fall.
“I want him back,” said Pernicia Evans, the mother of a third-grade boy. “He was stern, but this school came a long way.”
Others agreed that the Keaton helped raise students performance at the school since he took over in 2005, and said he should be given another chance.
“He’s a leader and a great educator,” said Sherley Williams, a school aide.
The embattled principal’s supporters took to the Internet, drafting an online petition, which collected 28 signatures through Monday night, asking for his reinstatement.
But that doesn’t mean the entire school community is waiting with a welcome mat for him.
Even before his arrest, Keaton was a divisive figure at PS 20, and, now, with his rap sheet, his critics are more entrenched than ever, after fuming previously about his “authoritarian” style on school Web sites.
“I don’t think he’s suited for the job,” said one mother, requesting anonymity. “I don’t think he was had all the tools needed to do a good job.”
Before a possible return, Keaton must face the music, which includes the criminal count against him.
The attacked teacher, Robert Segarra, could not be reached, but a spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers said Segarra, who was allegedly punched and kicked by Keaton, is pressing charges.
The union, meanwhile, said Keaton must receive counseling to control his temper.
“We certainly feel that the principal needs some counseling for anger management,” said Ron Davis, a spokesman for the UFT. “Under no circumstances is it acceptable for a principal to strike a member of the faculty. Until he learns to control his anger management issues, he should not be allowed to direct a school.”
A spokeswoman for the public school system said the incident is being investigated and that no decisions have been made yet about whether Keaton would return in the fall.
— with Thomas Nocera