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Watson Elementary School principal relieved of her duties

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Joan F. Waldman, principal of Floyd. B. Watson Elementary School, was relieved of her duties as principal this week. Dr. Janine Sampino, the district’s curriculum coordinator, is now providing administrative support. At press time, it was unclear why Waldman was removed as principal.

“The district has provided little information about its decision to place a respected and dedicated educator and principal on administrative leave, other than that it does not involve a student or staff matter,” Waldman’s spokeswoman Katherine Heaviside said in a statement. “Mrs. Waldman is confident the district will find she has always acted in a proper and professional manner and looks forward to swiftly returning to her role as principal.”

 In a letter to Watson School parents on Monday, Superintendent William Johnson said: "Effective today, Mrs. Waldman will be on a leave of absence from her regular duties. Initially, Dr. Janine Sampino, the District’s Curriculum Coordinator, will be at Watson Elementary School to provide administrative support.

I have every confidence that Dr. Sampino along with the outstanding staff at Watson School will continue to provide our children with the high-quality educational experience you have come to expect. At Back-to-School Night tonight, the focus should remain on the opportunity for teachers and parents to interact in our school setting.

We are unable to answer questions regarding school district personnel. However, questions related to the education program at Watson Elementary School will be answered as always.

I, along with the staff at Watson Elementary School, look forward to another wonderful school year. If you should have any questions, please contact my office."

Johnson could not be reached for comment by press time.

The news broke prior to the school’s Back to School Night. Parents were asked in the letter to focus on interacting with their children’s teachers. Those who could be reached by the Herald did not have more information to provide for comment.

“From what I know, she was a nice lady,” said Khalila Abrahams, a Watson parent.

Waldman was a teacher at Morris, Watson and Covert elementary schools before becoming a principal. She earned a master’s degree in special education from Hofstra University, where she is on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Education. She is also the past president of the South Shore Administrators Association.

According to her Hofstra biography, Waldman “has been involved in education for over 25 years in a variety of capacities. … She has been an avid supporter of Hofstra’s education students, providing countless opportunities for student teachers for over 15 years. Her philosophy is to offer a solid, firm foundation for these new teachers. She holds high expectations and directs them so they can continue on to become life-long learners committed to excellence in education.”

In 2013, the Rockville Centre Education Foundation honored Waldman with the Ruth Fins Memorial Award. She received the award at the organization’s annual gala, held at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College, alongside gala honoree, Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin.