NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The City School District of New Rochelle announced moments ago that Adofo Muhammad has withdrawn as the incoming Principal of New Rochelle High School.
Muhammad issued the following statement:
First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Feijóo and the New Rochelle Board of Education for an incredible opportunity to come back to my alma mater, New Rochelle High School. As I have said before, it was an opportunity that would be a culmination of my career. I dreamed about walking down the hallways, entering into classes and helping to move the educational and social and emotional vision of New Rochelle to a new plateau. However, unfortunately due to serious family matters which include the death of my grandmother and the compromised health of other loved ones, I will be unable to provide the time and dedication needed to make sure that New Rochelle High School becomes one of the premier high schools in the region.
It is with great consternation that I must rescind my intentions to become the New Principal of New Rochelle High School. I will forever be indebted to the New Rochelle community for the opportunities that have been afforded to me. My family roots in New Rochelle go back to the late 1800s and I wish the community the best as they move forward.
Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo issued the following statement:
Dear Members of the Community:
Like so many of you, we were also disappointed to learn of Mr. Muhammad’s difficult decision to rescind his intention to serve as our next Principal at the high school, which was shared earlier this evening. Positive energy and momentum was already building, and this is a setback. At the same time, we fully support Mr. Muhammad’s decision. If the current COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it is that each of us needs to hold dear and take care of those closest to us.
We recognize that this news undoubtedly raises questions and adds anxieties for a high school community that has already been through so much. Rest assured that we are already hard at work to determine our best options moving forward from this point. In light of the uncertainties already being thrust upon us all by the coronavirus, our extended team has already been actively engaged in creative scenario planning. We look forward to sharing updates as soon as we are able.
In the meantime, let’s all take a big breath and take care of those closest to us. We’ll move New Rochelle forward together.
Dr. Laura Feijóo
Muhammad was announced as the high school principal, effective July 1st, at a meeting of the New Rochelle Board of Education on April 14th. He was appointed to fill the position vacated by the 2018 resignation of Reggie Richardson in the wake of the murder of a student and the stabbing on another student 8 days later. Joseph Starvaggi was named interim principal in August 2018. Starvaggi is not eligible to continue for a third year under the “interim” title.
Muhammad came under fire after controversial social media posts came to light minutes after his hiring was announced by the Board. Neither school officials nor Muhammad responded to requests for comment about the social media posts.
While the posts appeared to endorse or associate Adofo Muhammad with The Nation of Islam, Leonard Jeffries, Franklin Jones and other known anti-Semites and make references to what appears to be Islam to the uninitiated, a deeper dive appears to indicate Adofo Muhammad is a “Five Percenter” (and therefore decidedly not Muslim) as some on the school board assumed.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Board Vice President Paul Warhit, who is Jewish, engaged in an orchestrated attack on this reporter, most likely dreamed up by Board President Amy Moselhi, who is Muslim, to claim our reporting on Adofo Muhammad’s online persona amounted to Islamophobia.
Warhit is apparently unaware that Five Percenters do not consider Islam a religion and hold positions antithetical to muslim beliefs.
Julia Muggia Ochs, also Jewish, defended Adofo Muhammad against our reporting by citing a 1967 New York Times Op-Ed by author James Baldwin which appears to be an attempt to defend Muhammad’s association with Black Anti-Semites, in part, on the grounds that Jews deserve to be hated by Blacks because Jews are White. This is an odd defense of black anti-Semitism from a Jewish school board member in a District which has had 20 incidents of Swastikas and Hate Speech directed against Jews at New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School and a tacit admission that the rash of Swastikas in the New Rochelle public schools is not the result of some Smollet-infused fantasy of MAGA-hat wearing skinheads roaming the hallways but far more likely a function of long-simmering resentment of black students against Jewish students.
In the American context, the most ironical thing about Negro anti-Semitism is that the Negro is really condemning the Jew for having become an American white man–for having become, in effect, a Christian. The Jew profits from his status in America, and he must expect Negroes to distrust him for it. The Jew does not realize that the credential he offers, the fact that he has been despised and slaughtered, does not increase the Negro’s understanding. It increases the Negro’s rage.
Ultimately, Baldwin concludes that Black Anti-Semitism is driven by Blacks envy of Jews for coming to America and successfully assimilating so as to be considered white Americans by Christians, the real enemy of Black people.
The crisis taking place in the world, and in the minds and hearts of black men everywhere, is not produced by the star of David, but by the old, rugged Roman cross on which Christendom’s most celebrated Jew was murdered. And not by Jews.
Warhit and Muggia Ochs fail to recognize the strong elements of the Five-Percent ideology that permeates Adofo Muhammad’s online persona. So, what are Five-Percenters?
Members of the group call themselves Allah’s Five Percenters, which reflects the concept that ten percent of the people in the world know the truth of existence, and those elites and their agents opt to keep eighty-five percent of the world in ignorance and under their controlling thumb; the remaining five percent are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the eighty-five percent.
The Nation of Gods and Earths teaches that Black people are the original people of the planet Earth, and therefore they are the fathers (“Gods”) and mothers (“Earths”) of civilization. The Nation teaches that Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet, a set of principles created by Allah the Father, is the key to understanding humankind’s relationship to the universe. The Nation does not believe in a god but instead teaches a form of Apotheosis, that the Asiatic Blackman is God and his proper name is “Allah”, the Arabic word for “God”.
Five Percenters have culture-specific names for certain cities, including New Rochelle which is known as “Now Rule”.
The New York City areas of Harlem (“Mecca”) and Brooklyn (“Medina”) were named after notable Islamic cities by members of the organization. Other areas include Detroit (“D-Mecca”), New Jersey (“New Jerusalem”), Chicago (“C-Medina”), Queens (“the Desert”), Connecticut (“New Heaven”), St. Louis (“Saudi”), Seattle (“Morocco”), New Rochelle (“Now Rule”), Dallas (“Sudan”), Baltimore (“Born Mecca”), Atlanta (“Allah’s Garden”), and Milwaukee (“Cream City”).
Five Percenters are represented within the rap and hip-hop music scene going back to Brand Nubian, an older hip-hop group out of New Rochelle.
The Islamic “sect”/group to which Brand Nubian belong, known by outsiders as the Five Percent Nation of Islam, by insiders as the Nation of Gods and Earths, hold beliefs so far removed from mainstream Islamic teachings as to be virtually unrecognizable as Islamic to a majority of Muslims. For example, the chant “allahu akbar” (“God is Greatest”) in the context of this Brand Nubian song means something very different than in mainstream Islamic beliefs. God/Allah, for Five Percenters, is not the Divinity as conventionally defined by the monotheistic faiths. God is the black man. For orthodox Muslims, this is shirk, un-Islamic polytheism.
None of this addresses the central issue of whether Adofo Muhammad is (was) prepared to run the second largest high school in New York. For many selecting another Black Principal from a tiny, “screened” high school in Brooklyn sounded a lot like the Reggie Richardson version of Groundhog Day.
There is nothing in Adofo Muhammad’s record that would preclude him from being able to succeed at New Rochelle High School but a review of state records shows that Bedford Academy High School where he has been Principal for more than a decade was not remotely similar to what he would have taken on had he not withdrawn.
The best Board President Amy Moselhi and Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo could offer beyond platitudes — other than that he graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1988 — is what Moselhi called a “stunning near-perfect graduation rate”.
Is it really stunning that Adofo Muhammad could run a tiny, “screened” school with 361 students subject to academic and personal entrance requirements coupled with a mid-high school career “purge” of 30% of each cohort so that only students he expected to graduate would be allowed to enter their senior year?
According to Inside Schools, Bedford Academy limits who can matriculate into the school, and in the months before senior years culls the rising senior cohort by about 30%.
ADMISSIONS: Screened, with priority to students who live in District 13, and then Brooklyn. Students apply to one of two programs: technology and health professions. They must score at least a 2 on state ELA and math exams (in 2019, 81.4% of students scored a 2 or higher so the school excluded 18.6% of students right off the bat) and have an average of 75 for the technology program and 80 for health professions. Exceptions are made, however, and family commitment to the school’s rigorous demands is very important, the principal said. Interviews are also considered. In 2017, there were far more applications than seats available. (Isabel Corpus, web reports, May 2018)
Is it really a 99% graduation rate when half the applicants are denied entry and 30% of those who are admitted do not make it to their senior year? If 200 student apply and 100 students enroll as 9th graders and 30 of those do not make it until Senior year that is more like a 35% graduation rate not 99%.
Bedford Academy High School (BAHS) has just 22 full-time teachers which is smaller than the number of foreign language teachers at New Rochelle High School.
BAHS has a very small number off ELL Students and Students of Disabilities.
New Rochelle High School is more than 50% Hispanic with a large and growing number of ELL students and many students with special needs. Muhammad has little experience dealing with English Language Learners and. Special Education students. BAHS is not diverse, it is over 80% Black.
At Bedford Academy, Muhammad has had the luxury of teaching three classes, including a leadership class for male students, and taking almost the entire month of August off for vacation. Running a school the size of New Rochelle High School is a full-time, 24/7/365 commitment not suited to part-time administrators.