A principal hired last year at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria failed to back up teachers who disciplined students, brought down teacher morale and largely ignored parents' input, according to a report to the School Board last night by a task force of parents and teachers.
The task force, formed after several parents complained last spring of discipline and curriculum problems at the school, also recommended that Principal Felicia Lanham Tarason be provided a professional mentor or be supplemented with a special administrator who would report directly to the superintendent.
The report also requested that Tarason be evaluated this fall by Superintendent Paul W. Masem and that the results be made available to task force members.
Tarason said after the report was given to the board that she had no comment on its recommendations.
Board members did not address the report's remarks about Tarason during the meeting. But Chairman Melvin A. Miller said afterward, "I don't think the report attempted to assess the principal" and that the board's personnel committee would weigh any remarks about Tarason.
Miller referred the report's recommendations to various board committees for review before any action is taken.
Richard White, chairman of the task force, told the board that the recommended special administrator at the school should "initially be full time to ensure that last year's problems can be avoided" and to facilitate communication between the principal and parents.
White acknowledged after his presentation to the board that "there's a lot of negative stuff" in the report about Tarason. But he added that "it might be received by Tarason as a challenge to say, 'By God, I'll show them they're wrong.' "
White also said that the task force of 11 parents and three teachers had discussed the possibility of recommending that Tarason be fired or transferred to another school.
Many of the recommendations seek greater parental involvement in all facets of school operations.
Many of the conclusions were based on interviews and written surveys given teachers last summer after parents reported that some children suffered broken bones on campus and that lower-achieving students were holding back better students.
Several parents also attended last night's board meeting to express concerns about the possible redrawing of elementary school lines and the creation of middle schools that would serve sixth-graders. The board is scheduled to vote at its Sept. 27 meeting on various goals that would be achieved by redistricting.