One in four D.C. public schools started the school year this week with a new principal, continuing a pattern of high turnover in the District’s traditional public schools.
High turnover has been a persistent concern among many parents and teachers in the District, who say inconsistency promotes instability and undermines progress and confidence in the system. Last summer, D.C. public schools announced 21 new principals for the school system’s 111 schools. By comparison, Montgomery County had 23 new principals in a system with 203 schools.
Principals left for different reasons, including retirement and personal reasons. Some left abruptly, including Peter Cahall, who resigned from Wilson High School in the middle of the year after sending a letter to the D.C. Council saying he was not going to be reappointed because of test scores. Ivor Mitchell, principal at Roosevelt High School, left in the spring citing family reasons. Since then, the school system has appointed two different interim principals while it looks for a permanent replacement.
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said some principals are being moved into different roles in the school system and some are being promoted within their schools or at different schools. “All turnover is not bad turnover,” she said.
Many of the newly appointed principals are graduates from the school system’s new principal training program, the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship, so they are familiar with the curriculum and the “DCPS way,” she said.
“I feel more comfortable about principal turnover this year than I have ever before,” she said. “I feel like this group of principals will hit the ground running.”
Henderson announced last spring that the school district would begin offering three-year appointments to high performing principals in exchange for an agrement that they would stay in their schools for three years, a nod to community concerns and the notion that it takes time to build relationships and begin to see progress.
In all, 22 principals were offered the longer contracts. Decisions were based on principal evaluations that were introduced in 2012-2013 and sort the school leaders into performance categories according to school-wide achievement goals and a “leadership framework” that evaluates performance in various areas, including family engagement, instruction and operations.
The principal evaluations have been controversial in part because they have yielded low results for many District school leaders and can lead to termination.
In the 2013-2014 school year, the largest number of principals were rated “minimally effective.” Seven principals were rated “ineffective.”
Here are the new principal appointments this year:
Abdullah Zaki — Dunbar SHS
Aimee Pressley — River Terrace
Alethea Bustillo — Bruce-Monroe ES
Alysia Lutz — Janney ES
Angel Hunter – King ES
Annie Mair (interim principal) – Payne ES
Arthur Mola – Bancroft ES
Courtney Aldridge – Johnson MS
Cynthia Robinson-Rivers — Van Ness ES
Davia Walker – Thomas ES
Elena Bell — Peabody-Watkins ES
Felicia Owo – Smothers ES
Jada Langston – Luke C. Moore Academy HS
Jade Brawley – Shepherd ES
Kara Kuchemba — Bunker Hill ES
Kim Martin — Wilson SHS
Kortni Stafford – Kelly Miller MS
Loren Brody – Takoma EC
Malaika Golden – Aiton ES
Megan Vroman – West EC
Norah Lycknell — Brookland MS
O’Kiyyah Lyons-Lucas – Powell ES
Rinaldo Murray (interim principal) – Washington Metropolitan
Roman Smith – Kramer MS
Sah Brown (interim principal) – Roosevelt HS
Sharon Holmes – Simon ES
Sundai Riggins – Hendley ES
Zara Berry-Young – Malcolm X