An Arabic-speaking teacher and facilitator with the city's Department of Education who served in the Peace Corps in Yemen, Holly Reichert, will be the next principal of the city's first ever Arabic-themed school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the department announced yesterday.
Ms. Reichert, 42, who is Christian, spent nearly five years living, working, and studying in the Middle East, and she has spent nearly a decade working for the city, according to her résumé supplied by the department.
The decision is a rebuff to efforts by the Brooklyn school's founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, to get her job back after she resigned from the position last year. Ms. Almontaser has said in a lawsuit against the city that officials at the mayor's office forced her to resign after she was quoted defending the T-shirt slogan "Intifada NYC."
Yesterday, Ms. Reichert provided her own definition: "The word intifada connotes violent conflict and should not be used frivolously, for example on a T-shirt," she said.
Speaking for the first time at the school, Ms. Reichert said that given the attention the school has received, she is looking forward to rebuilding a sense of "normalcy" to the institution and its vision.
"This is the time to move forward, to create the school that we all want," she said. "It's a positive challenge, and I'm very excited about it."
Danielle Salzberg, a Jewish woman who does not speak Arabic, has served as interim principal of Khalil Gibran since Ms. Almontaser's resignation.