Barack Obama Elementary School principal in Prince George’s County is transferred

After four years at the helm at Barack Obama Elementary School in Prince George’s County, Pearl Harmon is being replaced as principal.

Harmon sent a June 13 letter to the school community notifying them that she was “asked to assume another position as Senior Human Resources Partner” with the school system.

Since 2011, the first year state test scores were taken at the Upper Marlboro school, state test scores in reading and math in most grades have improved, but scores in third grade reading and math have dropped.

Asia Hamilton, who will attend third grade at Barack Obama next year, told school system officials at a recent school board meeting that she was disappointed with the recent action.

“I’m sad that Mrs. Harmon is no longer our principal,” she said. Asia was one of three people who raised concern about Harmon’s departure.

Asia then asked that she and other members of the community are able to have a say in the four-year-old school’s future. Her suggestion: Vice Principal Michelle Marek.

Harmon’s transfer is part of larger revamping of the school district’s human resources department. Earlier this year 64 of the department’s 72 employees were told that they had to reapply for their positions, according to school district officials.

Some would have new job descriptions, others would need new qualifications, and all the jobs were open to candidates inside and outside the school system.

Three days after Harmon’s letter, the school system sent a letter to the community asking for input on Harmon’s replacement. The recipients were given four days to complete the survey.

“Promotions and leadership changes in our school houses and central offices are a natural part of the reorganization our school system,” reads the letter, which asks residents to complete a “School Leadership Skills and Characteristics Community Input” questionnaire.

Harmon opened Barack Obama in 2010 after Berkshire Elementary School in District Heights closed in 2009 as part of a countywide consolidation plan. Before going to Berkshire, Harmon served as an assistant principal at Gladys N. Spellman Elementary in Cheverly and as a teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary in Hyattsville.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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