David Pinder, D.C. principal of the year, plans to resign

March 28, 2013

David Pinder, named D.C. Public Schools’ 2012 principal of the year for his leadership of award-winning McKinley Technology High School, said Thursday that he plans to leave his post in June.

He will become executive director of the Washington office of New Leaders, a nonprofit group that trains aspiring principals in urban school systems across the country.

McKinley Tech is a science and math magnet school that has posted double-digit gains on standardized tests since Pinder took the helm in 2007. Like the four other magnet high schools in the city, students must apply for admission.

In 2012, more than 90 percent of students were proficient in math and reading — results that prompted the U.S. Department of Education to name McKinley Tech a National Blue Ribbon School.

Pinder said he came to the school aiming to reach that 90 percent mark, and having reached it, he is ready to move on.

“For me, it’s the excitement of being able to train another wave of principals,” said Pinder, who himself was trained through New Leaders. He said he doesn’t rule out the possibility of returning to D.C. schools in the future.

Several McKinley Tech administrators who have served since 2007 also plan to leave the school in June, according to Pinder. The departures will leave key vacancies at a time of transition. The next McKinley Tech principal will oversee not just the high school but also an adjacent middle school slated to open in the fall.

“David Pinder has been a shining example of a great school leader during his seven years with DCPS,” Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement.

“We are very sad to see him leave DCPS, and despite our efforts to try and get him to stay, we understand and respect his desire to explore this new opportunity,” the statement said.

“We will work closely with the school community to ensure a smooth transition and find a leader worthy of the great students, teachers and staff at McKinley.”

Pinder’s tenure has not been without controversy. He was put on leave in 2011 after he was accused of doctoring 13 students’ transcripts to give them credit for courses they never took, ostensibly to inflate graduation rates. There were also questions about the mishandling of a $100,000 grant from AARP to the school.

Pinder was reinstated after an investigator admitted lying to an interview subject, compromising the probe.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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