Teacher blogs and school listservs have been buzzing for weeks about the anticipated replacement of numerous DCPS principals. Shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's office finally confirmed that school's out permanently for 25 of them.
This year's turnover is not quite as heavy as 2008, when Rhee made changes at 49 schools, recruiting "proven instructional leaders" to "replace principals who were unable to increase student performance," as she put it to a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Jennifer Calloway, Rhee's spokeswoman, said this year's departures "could be the result of retirement, resignation or non-reappointment," but that personnel rules barred her from providing specifics. In any event, since becoming Chancellor in 2007, roughly half of the principals' posts in DCPS have changed hands.
Some of the changes were essentially a done deal months ago. Anacostia, Dunbar and Coolidge High Schools will be run by outside management groups who got to name their own leaders.
Other transitions have kicked up some controversy in school communities, especially the dismissal of Luke C. Moore's long-time principal, Dr. Reginald C. Elliott. The school, targeted to students who have dropped out or already been though the judicial system, has extremely low attendance and graduation rates. But Elliott's supporters have lobbied the D.C. Council on his behalf. Gloria Tisdale, a Moore assistant principal who was dismissed along with Elliott, said he was undermined by lack of support from Rhee and central office administrators.
In a letter last week to Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, Tisdale said that "neither she nor her staff knows or cares about the scope of what we do at the school or our students' personal and interpersonal challenges."
"Her concerns," Tisdale said of Rhee, "are basically the data regarding the school and not addressing the souls and their needs."
The replacements, chosen by Rhee but also screened and interviewed by committees of school parents and teachers, include several highly regarded assistant princpals. At least two are products of New Leaders for New Schools, the non-profit training program that attracts and mentors new urban school principals. David Markus, an assistant at Cardozo High this past year, will head Johnson Junior High School. Norah Lycknell, who won certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards at Miner Elementary in 2007 and was most recently an assistant at Eliot-Hine Middle School, will lead Janney Elementary. As she did last year, Rhee has also poached from Montgomery County. William Kerlina, an assistant principal at Takoma Park Elementary School, will be the new principal at Hearst Elementary.
With a month until classes begin, Rhee has yet to name replacements in seven of the 25 schools that have lost principals, including Luke C. Moore, according to the list released Friday. Rhee said this week that she is close to filling the remaining openings.
Below is the list of schools where the top job is turning over. DC Wire has added the names of the new leaders, now available on the DCPS website's school directory, along with the names of the most recently listed principals in parentheses:
Anacostia SHS: Anita Drayton-Woods (Rodney McBride)
Bancroft ES: TBA (Fay Thompson)
Browne-Gibbs-Young EC: Rashida Waters (Keith Stephenson)
Coolidge SHS: Thelma Jarrett (L. Nelson Burton)
Dunbar SHS: Stephen Jackson (Gerald Austin)
Garfield ES: Angela Tilghman (Tammy Thomas)
Garrison ES: Rembert Seaward (Geneva Williams)
Hamilton Ctr: Scott Sugarman (David Mason)
Hearst ES: William Kerlina (Bernarda Tally)
Janney ES: Norah Lycknell (Karen Crews)
Johnson JHS: David Markus (Robert Saunders)
Kelly Miller ES: TBA (Laureal Robinson)
Leckie ES: Jermall Wright (Clementine Homesley)
Luke C. Moore: TBA (Reginald Elliott)
MacFarland MS: Sean Precious (Harold Barber)
Mamie D. Lee: TBA (JoAnn Turner)
Maury ES: Carolyne Albert-Garvey (Sheena Tuckson)
Murch ES: Dawn Ellis (Brenda Lewis)
Patterson ES: William Lee (Linda Williams)
Powell EC: Janeece Docal (Jose Belloso)
Prospect LC: TBA (Eve Peterson)
Roosevelt STAY: TBA (Charles Royster)
Smothers ES: TBA (Angela Morton)
Spingarn SHS: Blanca Reyes (Reginald Burke)
Stoddert: Marjorie Cuthbert (Andriana Kalapothakos)