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More New Principals For Rhee

Teacher blogs and school listservs have been buzzing for weeks about the anticipated replacement of numerous DCPS principals. Shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's office finally confirmed that school's out permanently for 25 of them.

This year's turnover is not quite as heavy as 2008, when Rhee made changes at 49 schools, recruiting "proven instructional leaders" to "replace principals who were unable to increase student performance," as she put it to a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.

Jennifer Calloway, Rhee's spokeswoman, said this year's departures "could be the result of retirement, resignation or non-reappointment," but that personnel rules barred her from providing specifics. In any event, since becoming Chancellor in 2007, roughly half of the principals' posts in DCPS have changed hands.

Some of the changes were essentially a done deal months ago. Anacostia, Dunbar and Coolidge High Schools will be run by outside management groups who got to name their own leaders.

Other transitions have kicked up some controversy in school communities, especially the dismissal of Luke C. Moore's long-time principal, Dr. Reginald C. Elliott. The school, targeted to students who have dropped out or already been though the judicial system, has extremely low attendance and graduation rates. But Elliott's supporters have lobbied the D.C. Council on his behalf. Gloria Tisdale, a Moore assistant principal who was dismissed along with Elliott, said he was undermined by lack of support from Rhee and central office administrators.

In a letter last week to Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, Tisdale said that "neither she nor her staff knows or cares about the scope of what we do at the school or our students' personal and interpersonal challenges."

"Her concerns," Tisdale said of Rhee, "are basically the data regarding the school and not addressing the souls and their needs."

The replacements, chosen by Rhee but also screened and interviewed by committees of school parents and teachers, include several highly regarded assistant princpals. At least two are products of New Leaders for New Schools, the non-profit training program that attracts and mentors new urban school principals. David Markus, an assistant at Cardozo High this past year, will head Johnson Junior High School. Norah Lycknell, who won certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards at Miner Elementary in 2007 and was most recently an assistant at Eliot-Hine Middle School, will lead Janney Elementary. As she did last year, Rhee has also poached from Montgomery County. William Kerlina, an assistant principal at Takoma Park Elementary School, will be the new principal at Hearst Elementary.

With a month until classes begin, Rhee has yet to name replacements in seven of the 25 schools that have lost principals, including Luke C. Moore, according to the list released Friday. Rhee said this week that she is close to filling the remaining openings.

Below is the list of schools where the top job is turning over. DC Wire has added the names of the new leaders, now available on the DCPS website's school directory, along with the names of the most recently listed principals in parentheses:

Anacostia SHS: Anita Drayton-Woods (Rodney McBride)
Bancroft ES: TBA (Fay Thompson)
Browne-Gibbs-Young EC: Rashida Waters (Keith Stephenson)
Coolidge SHS: Thelma Jarrett (L. Nelson Burton)
Dunbar SHS: Stephen Jackson (Gerald Austin)
Garfield ES: Angela Tilghman (Tammy Thomas)
Garrison ES: Rembert Seaward (Geneva Williams)
Hamilton Ctr: Scott Sugarman (David Mason)
Hearst ES: William Kerlina (Bernarda Tally)
Janney ES: Norah Lycknell (Karen Crews)
Johnson JHS: David Markus (Robert Saunders)
Kelly Miller ES: TBA (Laureal Robinson)
Leckie ES: Jermall Wright (Clementine Homesley)
Luke C. Moore: TBA (Reginald Elliott)
MacFarland MS: Sean Precious (Harold Barber)
Mamie D. Lee: TBA (JoAnn Turner)
Maury ES: Carolyne Albert-Garvey (Sheena Tuckson)
Murch ES: Dawn Ellis (Brenda Lewis)
Patterson ES: William Lee (Linda Williams)
Powell EC: Janeece Docal (Jose Belloso)
Prospect LC: TBA (Eve Peterson)
Roosevelt STAY: TBA (Charles Royster)
Smothers ES: TBA (Angela Morton)
Spingarn SHS: Blanca Reyes (Reginald Burke)
Stoddert: Marjorie Cuthbert (Andriana Kalapothakos)

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  July 24, 2009; 11:42 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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“personnel rules barred her from providing specifics”

What? Chancellor Rhee says while under oath to a US Senate committee that last year she “replace[d] principals who were unable to increase student performance" but this year, she can’t talk about why people left?

Perhaps this is because some of them jumped ship voluntarily and she certainly doesn’t want THAT story to get out.

Posted by: efavorite | July 25, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Funny about New Leaders New Schools. They usually due their internships under veteran principals.

Posted by: candycane1 | July 25, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

So far, it looks like her plan to bring in talent from around the country to participate in her bold, new reform movement is not working.

Instead, she's promoting assistant principals from as far away as Montgomery County.

Maybe she's saving the best until last and seven nationally respected principals will ditch their current jobs in August to come to work in DCPS. If not, maybe some of her headquarters staff can be pressed into service.

Posted by: efavorite | July 25, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Rhee needs to stop lying about people and their credentials. It is Rhee who is unqualified and who lacks credentials. I hope every person whom she slandered to that Senate Subcommittee will have recompense.

Posted by: southyrndiva | July 25, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

As for headquarters staff becoming principals, a former principal who had been working under an assistant superintendent as a principal coach is now back leading a school. Ms. Tilghman is now at Garfield in SE. And she don't play.

Posted by: chelita | July 25, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Tilghman may be an outstanding principal, but it looks like another sign of Rhee's desperation and limited choices that she's calling on local talent who had already moved on from being principal.

I hope this returning principal is getting a big fat bonus and I'd like to know what it is.

Posted by: efavorite | July 26, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

efavorite, I think you're absolutely right. Rhee probably begged her to take over that school and whip it into shape. It's off Suitland Parkway deep in SE on Alabama Ave, with an enrollment of around 280, according to the DCPS website. Its 07 DCCAS scores were 24 and 20, reading and math; 27 and 25 in 2008. Let's see how 2009 looks. Probably over 70% FARMS.
BTW, DCPS watchers, the 2009 DCCAS scores will be up on Tuesday on the OSSE website, so check them out July 28.

Posted by: chelita | July 26, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Chelita - Rhee probably begged her period, or forced her to take the principal job or be fired. Rhee seems to be trying to lure assistant principals in with a pay increase and has given up on getting experienced principals any more. They'd have to be crazy to give up their jobs to work for firin' Michelle Rhee.

Last year, established suburban principals were bragging that they took a pay cut just for the adventure of working in Rhee's wonder system. (They didn't mention the bonus they were getting that didn't count as salary - another example of fudging the numbers)

Posted by: efavorite | July 26, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

More new principals for Rhee to fire would be a more accurate title for this piece. Anyone want to make a bet on how many of these "best and brightest" will make it to this time next year? Remember, it is one shot and you are out. Some of last year's best and brightest did not make it to Christmas.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | July 27, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering if there is a similar list from last year. Ms. Rhee boasted on WAMU that the schools with improvement this year were her principals. I'd like to know who "her principals" are to make a comparison.

Posted by: qaz2 | July 27, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

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