About 300 Oxon Hill High School students held an impromptu protest on the sidewalk in front of the school yesterday after it was announced that their principal will be transferred to another high school next fall after 13 years at Oxon Hill.
The principal, Thomas Moran, is being moved along with 27 other principals and administrators as part of Superintendent Edward J. Feeney's policy of rotatating administrators regularly. Fourteen principals were moved at this time last year, and a few more changes are expected to be announced before the end of this year, according to school officials.
The students, parading hastily made placards saying "Moran is The Man" and "Keep Moran on Hand" said they felt that Moran had seen the school through difficult years during his tenure, one of the longest of any current high school principal in the county.
"It was educationally unsound to switch horses in the middle of the race," said 10th grader Emily Gilliardo.
Moran, 53, said the transfer was "a shock to me, outright." He said the only reason Feeney gave for the move was that he had been at the school "too long." Moran added that he was "gratified by the outpouring" from the students.
Over the last three years, Oxon Hill has undergone extensive renovation and expansion. Enrollment is expected to jump from 1,700 students this year to more than 2,400 next year when a ninth grade will be added to what is now a three year school. In addition, the successful science and technology program begun at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt was duplicated at Oxon Hill for the first time this year. The students credited Moran for bringing the selective academic program for talented students to the school.
"For 10 years he has been fighting for this tech center," said 12th grader Arthur Padama. "Now we get it and he's gone."
According to school spokeswoman Kathleen Snyder, Feeney feels that, "in the long run it does the schools good to get a new principal, a person perhaps with new skills to apply. Of course it is very emotional."
The word of the transfer began to circulate at school during the first period. By lunch time, students were circulating petitions requesting the Board of Education to reverse the transfer that will send Moran to Frederick Douglass High School in Croom, which has 800 students.
School board member Angelo Castelli, a friend of Moran's who also represents the Oxon Hill area, said he did not learn of the transfer until a school board executive session Thursday night.
"I did protest to Dr. Feeney, but administrative transfers do not come before the Board of Education for approval," said Castelli, stressing that Moran was not being punished or demoted by the move.