March 4, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Forest Hills High School’s principal, who has been under the spotlight recently after reports of his alleged lax attitude toward student drug use, is now under investigation by the Department of Education after teachers at the school recently took a no-confidence vote and accused him of further inappropriate behavior.
FHHS faculty overwhelmingly decided in a Feb. 14 vote that Ben Sherman, at the school since 2017, was not suited to be the school’s leader, and presented a list of concerns about his behavior to Queens high school superintendent Juan Mendez last week, according to the New York Post. Faculty also asked Mendez to remove Sherman from his post.
The DOE confirmed to the Forest Hills Post that the allegations in the letter have been referred for investigation.
Among faculty concerns presented after the vote, in addition to letting student pot smoking slide, include allegations of Sherman leaving his bathroom door open so his secretaries could see him urinating; unicycling and juggling in the school’s crowded hallways; and making a slew of inappropriate comments toward teachers and students, the Post reported on Saturday.
Sherman, in response to being asked to shut the bathroom door, allegedly replied, “Did they not like what they saw?”, according to the Post.
He is also accused of telling two female students wearing large earrings: “The bigger the hoop, the bigger the ho!”
One teacher also accused him of saying, “Hubba, hubba, I like what I see through the holes of that sweater,” according to the list.
The teachers believe that Sherman’s alleged antics and leadership approach are leading the school astray, and have meant an increase in vandalism, larcenies and drug use on site.
“The Chancellor takes these concerns seriously, and has created clear lines of accountability to ensure schools have the support they need,” said Doug Cohen, a DOE spokesperson.
The agency has placed Sean Davenport, Thurgood Marshall Academy Principal, as supervising superintendent of FHHS—directly overseeing principal Sherman and the school’s operations. He will also report to the DOE’s executive superintendent.
The new investigation comes after widespread outcry over the alleged state of the school under Sherman, first revealed by the Post, which also prompted Council Member Karen Koslowitz to call on the DOE to intervene.
“With the necessary corrections in place, FHHS will continue to enjoy the excellent reputation that it has deservedly maintained through the years,” Koslowitz said late last week.