Yeou-Jey Vasconcelos, the principal of LaGuardia High School, announced in an email shared with parents on Monday, February 13th that she would be vacating her position. She will be leaving her role as well as the city’s Department of Education on March 3rd.
“I will soon find myself with a new role,” she wrote in the email. “I have been offered an opportunity to serve New York City students and families in a leadership capacity outside of the Department of Education. I have humbly accepted.”
Vasconcelos replaced Lisa Mars, who was criticized for placing too much emphasis on rigorous academia while neglecting more artistic and creative aspects of the school. While Vasconcelo stepped into the role with the promise of ushering in a less academically rigorous regime, she eventually fell victim to criticism as well for not finding the balance between the creative and academic sides of the school.
Vasconcelos wanted to cut Advanced Placement classes, reduce the number of classes per day and shorten the school day. A number of parents did not agree with this approach, believing it greatly lowered academic standards. They believed it would negatively affect their children’s college applications.
“As time went on it just became clearer and clearer that she was not on board with that mission,” said Susa Ferugio, a parent. “I think she viewed the school more arts and tried to really water down the academics.”
Vasconcelos is an experienced educator, having served in the Department of Education for 17 years. She has taught music, served as vice principal, and principal under the DOE before she assumed her current role of principal of LaGuardia High School, also known as the Fame school.
Vasconcelos became principal of LaGuardia High School in 2019 following Lisa Mars’ departure. Her first year as principal of the school saw the COVID-19 pandemic close schools, moving the school to remote learning, something that made it difficult to execute the arts.
Vasconcelos did not announce who would be taking the helm at the school. When asked, the DOE did not respond for a comment as to who would take over as principal of the Fame school.
“At LaGuardia, each of us are cast in the role of a life-time,” she wrote as she bade farewell. “Each of us have our own given circumstances, with a shared objective to positively support student outcomes. I am filled with gratitude for all the relationships that have supported me in meeting our shared objective with the highest level of integrity.”