As of March 17, Frank Chmiel is no longer the principal of Princeton High School, and an online petition with more than 1,900 signatures is demanding an explanation.

Without naming Chmiel directly, an email was sent to families, students and staff at Princeton Public Schools informing them that Princeton High School (PHS) assistant principals Cecilia Birge and Rashawn Johnson have assumed joint principal duties “effective March 17”.

Birge and Johnson are taking over as PHS principals on an interim basis as the high school “undergoes a school leadership transition,” Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelly wrote in an email.

“We are awaiting the appointment of an interim principal who is a veteran educator with many years of experience to take over as principal for the remainder of the school year,” Kelly wrote in an email.

“We know that change is never easy, but we have a dedicated staff dedicated to the well-being, safety and educational needs of students. This will remain a top priority for our educators at PHS,” she wrote.

“With change, we also look forward to new opportunities,” Kelly wrote.

The a petition was created within hours of the announcement by PHS students Ashley Chen, Ida Siddique, Sophia Moger, Rida Mian and Vivian Clayton.

“We demand transparency, fairness and accountability from our superintendent and call on the board to reverse Principal Chmil’s firing,” five students wrote in the petition.

“Princeton High School has already experienced frequent administrative changes, all of which have disrupted the learning environment for students,” the petition said.

“Not only will this change continue to disrupt learning, but it will also force students to re-engage with yet another new principal,” it said.

The petition praised Khmel and emphasized that he supported the students. He has shown “overwhelming support for every school event and student endeavor,” the report said.

Khmil regularly attended sporting events, school concerts and shows, and other student events, the petition said. He strengthened the school spirit at PHS, which was “an aspect of the school that it lacked prior to his appointment,” according to the report.

Chmiel also designed and planned the high school’s first Hispanic Heritage Month and Afro-Family History Month gospel, the petition said. He helped lead a school-wide assessment of these cultures.

He also supported the sale of Black 365 T-shirts to raise money for college scholarships for the Class of 2022, according to the petition.

Chmiel was hired as director of PHS in 2021. He served as principal of Franklin High School for three years. Before taking the top job at Franklin High School, he was an assistant principal for five years.

Chmiel is a graduate of Princeton University. He began his 25-year teaching career at Montgomery High School, where he taught Advanced Placement social studies and art history.

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