The principal of Hillcrest High School in Queens, Scott Milczewski, has been reassigned following a student riot against a Jewish teacher who attended a pro-Israel rally. In a letter to staff and families, Milczewski announced that he has accepted the position of Director of Teacher Development and Evaluation within the Division of Teaching and Learning at the New York City Department of Education. The department has not provided immediate comment on Milczewski’s reassignment.
The incident leading to Milczewski’s exit involved a riot where hundreds of students rampaged through the school’s halls last month, forcing a pro-Israeli teacher to hide in a locked office. A Queens councilman labeled the students as “intolerant and radicalized,” while some teens claimed that most classmates participated for the fun of it. Four students involved in organizing the riot were suspended. Tensions rose after the teacher’s Facebook photo showed her at an October 9 rally in Queens, holding a poster that read, “I stand with Israel.”
Approximately 25 NYPD officers were required to end the incident and place the school on lockdown. Milczewski faced criticism for not addressing the tensions building up in the school over the Israel-Hamas conflict. Some teachers expressed optimism about his departure, stating that Hillcrest needed a change and hoped the new principal would address the needs of the faculty and students, fostering a sense of community.
Milczewski’s tenure at Hillcrest High School has been marked by controversy, including accusations of a delayed response to swastikas scrawled on student lockers in February. Recently, swastikas and graffiti saying “F–k Palestine” appeared in the school, swiftly removed. Milczewski took over the role in 2019 after his predecessor, David Morrison, was ousted over misconduct allegations. A no-confidence survey from the faculty revealed that 87% of employees believed Milczewski had “created a toxic environment” and prioritized his ambitions over the needs of students and staff.
Despite the widespread disapproval, Milczewski, in his farewell message, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work at Hillcrest and wished the best for students and coworkers, noting that he would cherish his time as part of the Hillcrest family.