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Twenty-eight schools to open with new principals

The changes have been trickling out all summer, but DCPS finally confirmed late Friday that 28 of its 125 schools will open with new principals next week, including four high schools, five middle schools, five K-8 campuses and 12 elementary schools.

Officials will not elaborate on the changes, a mix of dismissals, retirements, reassignments and promotions. This is Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's third full round of principal recruiting and hiring --four if you count the 2007-08 school year, when she had barely two months to prepare.

The churning has been considerable. By my count, Rhee has filled 91 school leadership openings since coming to town three years ago, some created by dismissals, others by resignations or retirements. Of the 91 principals new to their posts, 39 are no longer in those jobs. There are some asterisks. One of Rhee's first moves was to declare most of the newly hired principals in 2007-08 "interim" because she said the pool of candidates was so shallow. Of the 20 principals named that year, 14 are no longer in those jobs. Of the 46 she assembled for 2008-09, nearly half (22) are no longer at their schools. Again, there are qualifiers. Some left on their own or got other jobs in the school system. One, Shaw@Garnet-Patterson's Brian Betts, was murdered in April.

Rhee acknowledges that she doesn't have as many good principals as she would like.

"It's not ideal. I'd love to have a higher batting average," Rhee said. "We have had some who have been great and some who have not panned out."

Because the District won't differentiate between principals dismissed for poor performance and those who left in good standing, it's difficult to determine an actual attrition rate. A 2009 University of Texas study of principal attrition in that state between 1996 and 2008 found that it varies widely by school level. The average tenure for a high school principal was 3.8 years; elementary school principals stayed at the same job for an average of five years. Those figures tend to be lower at schools with high numbers of poor children.

The most famous principal firing of the Rhee era was probably the 2008 dismissal of the leader at her daughters' school, Marta Guzman of Oyster-Adams Bilingual. Her service predated Rhee. She has also removed several new principals at mid-year, including those at Hart Middle and Shepherd Elementary.

Rhee said that the District has worked hard to improve screening and recruiting. "The best thing we can do is do as much as we can at the front end and realize that when we made a mistake to correct it. And don't just cling to people because they happen to be people that we brought in."

At least two of last year's principals, Ross Elementary's Amanda Alexander and Noyes Education Campus' Wayne Ryan, have moved up to become part of the new expanded team of instructional superintendents.

Friday's disclosure did not include the names of the new school leaders. You have to go through the school directory on the DCPS site and pluck them out. The four high schools with new principals are Roosevelt, Washington Metropolitan (formerly the Youth Engagement Academy), Dunbar and Anacostia. The last two are schools that were placed under outside management last year. At Anacostia, operated by Friendship Public Charter Schools, Shanika Hope has been replaced by Ian Roberts, who ran one of Friendship's Baltimore schools.(Correction: Roberts replaces Malik Bazzell, not Hope.) At Dunbar, operated by Friends of Bedford, Stephen Jackson is out but the directory shows only TBD. Rhee said that several Friends of Bedford officials will be running the school.

Some new principals are promotions from within: West Education Campus' Andria Caruthers, a former assistant principal at Takoma Education Campus; Kelly Miller Middle School's Abdullah Zaki, former assistant principal at Banneker High School; Aiton Elementary's Irina Malykhina, former vice principal at Bruce-Monroe Elementary@Parkview, and Amidon Elementary's LaShante Knight, a special development specialist in the central office. Five new leaders have the "interim" tag, and Rhee said they are likely to be in place for the entire school year.

Here's the list of new leaders:

Aiton Elementary: Irina Malykhina
Amidon Bowen Elementary: LaShante Knight
Anacostia High School: Ian Roberts
Burroughs Education Campus: Mary Weston
CW Harris Elementary: Tiffany Clemmons
Davis Elementary: Maisha Riddlesprigger
Dunbar High School: TBD
Jefferson Middle School: Patricia Pride (interim)
Johnson Middle School: Pamela Ransome
Kelly Miller Middle School: Abdullah Zaki
Ketcham Elementary: Tandi Tyler
Kramer Middle School: Kwame Simmons
Noyes Education Campus: Adell Cothorne
Patterson Elementary: Renee Cottman-Reyes (interim)
Raymond Education Campus: Natalie Hubbard (interim)
Reed Elementary: Eugene Pinkard
Roosevelt High School: Ivor Mitchell
Ross Elementary: Holly Searl
Sharpe Health Center: Savetra Francis (interim)
Shaw Middle School@Garnet-Patterson: Kimberly Douglas
Spingarn STAY: Gary Washington
Terrell/McGogney Elementary: Clementine Homeley (interim)
Thomson Elementary: Albert DuPont
Truesdell Education Campus: Mary Ann Stinson
Tyler Elementary: Jennifer Frentress
Washington Metropolitan High School (formerly Youth Engagement Academy): Tanishia Williams-Minor

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By Bill Turque  |  August 16, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
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How it is handled in Prince George's County Public Schools:

Posted by: edlharris | August 16, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Do those principals know how dangerous it is to work for Michelle Rhee. Did anyone warn them or did her pr machine win them over?

Hopefully for them, she will resign and someone stable will take her job.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 16, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I've ever heard of the Washington Metropolitan High School or its predecessor. Can someone enlighten me, please?

Where is it located?

Posted by: vscribe | August 16, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Does Ms. Rhee think all of this 'new' personnel (teachers and administrators) will raise student achievement? I know whenever I have been promoted to a new job (in education) it has taken quite awhile to feel as though I was being effective!

Posted by: dbteach | August 16, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how you expect any improvement in a school or a school district with the constant turnover in leadership. Many of the new hires were only given a year and then they were out. Some not even that long. It takes a good while to turn a school around and create a unique climate and culture in a school. This is just one more piece of evidence where Rhee knows nothing about managing a bureaucracy. You have to give people a chance especially in DCPS where the system has been mired in dysfunction and complacency for decades. It takes a while to undo that and create positive change. She has unrealistic expectations of both her principals and her teachers.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 16, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

All too true Urbandweller, but this makes her look decisive and daring and a maverick, in the eyes of Jo-Ann Armao and Fred Hiatt.

Posted by: edlharris | August 16, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

You really have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would agree to be a principal under Michelle Rhee.

Posted by: Nemessis | August 16, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how it was decided which principals were let go? Was it based on AYP?

Posted by: dccitizen1 | August 16, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Principal Dwan Jordon of Sousa Middle School.

A real star in Chancellor Michelle Rhee's constellation of hand chosen DCPS school reform champions. "Move forward for the kids." And just ask the talented teachers who work(ed) under his administration how Rheeform can make your school more toxic than a "Superfund" site.

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 16, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Most if not all new principals are hired from within, or from the nearby suburbs,who are likely people with few options.

Principals, unlike teachers, require some experience, meaning some maturity and some reluctance to pick up stakes for Michelle Rhee's dream of increased scores or else.

Back in 2008, Andrew Rotherham, the co-director of Education Sector, a Washington think tank, enthusiastically predicted that "People are coming from across the country to work for her... It’s the thing to do.”

Well, he was wrong (or flat-out lying) It was never the thing to do and the longer Rhee stayed, firing new principals, willy nilly, the harder it became to recruit talent. Imagine that.

Posted by: efavorite | August 16, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Why hasn't the principal of Dunbar been determined yet? The school year is about to begin.

Posted by: thebandit | August 17, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I sat on a principal search committee for a DCPS elementary school in June.

One candidate had a spelling error on her resume. One had a typo. The other had so little experience that I believe the last time he had spent a full day in an elementary school was when he was eleven years old.

And yes, none were from outside the beltway. So much for the nationwide search.

Based on Turque's list, each and every one of these candidates are now the leader of a District of Columbia Public Elementary school.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | August 17, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Let’s look at Noyes Elementary to try to discern Rhee’s formula for improving the schools.

From 2008 to 2009, the reading scores at Noyes elementary increased from 60% proficiency to 84.71%. Wow.

In math, Noyes increased from 55.79% proficiency in 2008 to 63.69% in 2009. Double Wow! Noyes made AYP all around.

I remember Rhee crowing at that time about how the principal had made such a difference there: “He’s really leading that school; the gains they are seeing are tremendous. The culture and the environment in the building is very strong,” Rhee said. “I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

The principal, Wayne Ryan, “…attributes the success to school-wide policies he implemented to help students with deficiencies catch up in critical math and literacy areas.”

Then in 2010, Noyes reading decreased to 61.35% to and math decreased to 53.14%. Oops – scores are back to 2008 levels. AYP is gone, even by 2009 standards in math (60.53%), and just two points above the prior standard (55.21%) in reading.

So much for the tremendous gains and the school-wide policies.

Rhee’s response: promote the principal to instructional superintendent.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the point is being missed. In addition to TFA and NTP, the reformers also run (with corporate and taxpayer money) New Leaders for New Schools, a TFA spin-off dedicated to putting inexperienced and unqualified true believers into public schools as principals.

My oldest son got one of these recruits at his school when he was in 6th Grade (not in DC, by the way). By October the students had nicknamed him "weenie-man," and not because he liked hot-dogs. By January, the parents had adopted the same moniker. By the end of the year, anyone who could get their kid out of that school did, including me. None of my children has ever spent another day in a public school.

The bottom line, Rhee and the "reformers" need a constant turnover of both principals and teachers to keep their recruiting agencies in business.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 17, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Actions such as Rhee's tend to have natural consequences. Her unprofessional treatment of people is already resulting in a dearth of applicants for administrative positions, even in this recession. Once the recession is over, I predict DC will have a very difficult time hiring qualified teachers.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 17, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

McStowy - hopefully, weenie-man is not typical of "New Leaders" grads. What's troubling, though, is that people like weenie are set up as being superior to other principals, when they clearly are not.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

McStowy - good point! Did not catch the turnover perspective (admittedly stuck on a bigger conspiracy). Since they are fee based, training and replacing 1000 teachers every 2 years or so should be quite lucrative business. someone on these blogs has been alluding to the inherent conflict of interest of Rhee's hire for some time.

If anyone knows I would love to see a list of principals hired/fired since Rhee arrival. it seems that she is on principal #2 in a few cases.

Posted by: oknow1 | August 17, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This list is not accurate...there's a new principal at Woodson High School. He's been there for about 4-weeks...what gives?

I have to agree that each and every principal that has sat before me while participating on a panel has gotten a school. Which is quite ironic and almost proves a point that when you will GET a school. So, future applicants don't fret? Sorry, but misspelling is not a factor to disqualify anyone because the recruitment vacancy announcement for DCPS Princpals had horrendous mis-spellings and just plain wrong information regarding their perspective schools.

Also, I would like to know how many are a result from a National Search...considering that we participated in a National Search...and all the candidates presented to us were local-yokals (metro-commuting distance). Also, I am wondering how many of these new appointees are New Leader for New Schools graduates, is this the only recognized pool of candidates we can choose from...what is the deal OSSE?

May I ask...the position of Director of Principal Recruitment...actually does what? Considering many of these new appointees were already DCPS couldn't the Chancellor have just appointed these candidates as pursuant to the DCMR.

How wants to bet me...that on September 15th you'll see a mass exodous. I can almost guarantee you that many will not hedge the bet, that they will be kept on due to their vast institutional knowledge of DCPS.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 17, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

PowerandPride - to answer your question (purely speculative) the director of Principal recruitment spends a lot of time unsuccessfully trying to sell DCPS to "Rock Star" principals around the country, who luckily, are too savvy to fall for the pitch.

Questions for you -

Are you saying that everyone who applied for a Principal job got one?

Who do you think is leaving by 9/15? Principals? Central office staff?

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

If you REALLY want some interesting numbers look at the Assistant Principals.
In the Clusters, they function as Principals.
Look at how many are failed or burned out teachers that went to "the Institute" but can't find their way out of the bathroom.
Generally nice people, well intentioned, just lack the skills for the position for which they were hired.
Same for Principals.
One of DCPS's major failings is that for decades they have not cultivated real leaders. So now we have an Institute popping them out way before they can express mature skills.
Basically poor training/mentoring and a selection process that can't detect the wheat from the chaff, ie a lack of systemic leadership.

Posted by: lulu99 | August 17, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

In schools with 100 tested students the maximum precision for a perfectly reliable test is 1/100 = 1%. Reporting more precision than to the nearest
whole kid is playing at scientism.

Powerandpride: The second year principal of Shepherd ES was the former director of principal selection. A move from an unsupported staff to a line position.

Title1soccermom: That all principal candidates get assignments is the very reason central admin should just assign the principals in all cases. Then, nobody local is bought off or committed to "making it work." No reason to believe that community members with three resumes and an hour of canned questions are doing better or worse for their school than Rhee would / will. Remember, she claims to have interviewed every one of these leaders. So, why deprive your child of parenting time when you can do no better than beggaring your neighbor?


The DC CASnumbers for Shaw Garnet Patterson under the impressive and late Brian Betts -- see his four interviews conducted by John Merrow -- were like those for Noyes ES, except there was never with any gain, and always much lower numbers than Noyes reported. That was with tons of resources, a principal who presented himself as an instructional leader-- in every classroom every day--, and with Capital Gains incentives to develop a culture of behavior modification.

If principal turnover is going to be this high, maybe the Chancellor should institutionalize turnover formally, with no principal staying at one school for more than three years, State Department embassy-posting style. Funny, though, that Principal Brian Betts expressed his belief on videotape that it would take five years to create a successful school. Impressive self-presentation, but completely at variance with Rhee's body-shop approach.

Posted by: incredulous | August 17, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Metropolitan High School is a choice school that used to share the building with eliot-hine ms but has been relocated to its own campus near Howard University. It has been adding a grade every year and is going into its 3rd year. It's a Big Picture School.( Big Picture is pretty cool--it's a model of education that uses student interests to drive the curriculum. Students are also expected to participate in internships to get real world experience.

Posted by: saucy4 | August 17, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I worked at a school that was assigned incoming Admin for a year of OJT. Over 10 years we had over a dozen of them pass through. The number with DCPS after two years? One.
This problem predates Rhee by a decade or more. The real problem is that no solution is on the horizon.

Posted by: lulu99 | August 18, 2010 6:20 AM | Report abuse

efavorite, I was told by a DCPS HR officals that there were 300 applicants for the principal jobs. They were apparently vetted by HR, the Instructional Superintendent, and I believe Peggy O'Brien's office.

So no, not everyone got a job. I think everyone who made it to panel got a job though.

incredulous, you are right. The whole panel, which I have to say the teachers and parents at my child's school took very seriously, was an exercise in sham democracy. I thought I was serving my child and the children of the school by spending hours on the task, but it was a waste of time.

The candidates we saw were laughable and when we asked if we could see more candidates, it was made clear that it things could be "worse."

How can Rhee expect me to leave my child with a principal like this? It's nice that she can freely move her children and the mayor's children into the school of her choice, but the rest of us don't have that luxury.

I think spelling errors and typos on resumes is significant. It's a resume, not an email or a comment on a Post article. The fact that the candidates lacked the care and or skill to proofread their resume, says something about them.

The fact that the Chancellor and her bumbling sidekicks lack the ability to find the errors on their documents AND couldn't be bothered to edit the errors before they sent them out, says something significant as well.

I am disgusted by the entire process.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | August 18, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

@efavorite, I think that Central Office will depart in warp-speed. Quite honestly they are working out-of-boxes. I have never seen so many impersonal work areas. It seems everyone brought there work supplies in a backpack...and if they need to make a hasty exit...packing up will not slow them up.

As for principal applicants who sat before us at Eastern....all of them I mean all of them have been appointed to positions. Which is quite perplexing considering the vacancy announcement that we were lead to believe were for the Eastern principal position only. So, to have an applicant view the Eastern vacancy announcement on the DCPS website...and then by the luck of the draw gets Roosevelt. Can makes one wonder...who's time did DCPS waste?

Title1mom...I hear you...and that is a pet-peeve of many, but this is a city government job and the qualification requirement does not have mis-spellings as a disqualifier.

Now hold onto your soccer ball...I was informed that some of the "highly-sort' after principal applicants were allowed to skip certain parts of the process...and that was "essay" portion.

Hence again, the sham and the need for a Director of Principal recruitment actually does what?

Too see that 28 principals have been appointed to one year contracts...can almost give you the illusion that 28 principal panels were activated. Again, at one high-school I can assure you that it was not and how ironic that it was in the Ward where Mayor Candidate Gray resides...coincidence or flexing of muscle?
It just seems so, vindictive.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 18, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

She has to keep the revolving door for administrators. The experience is gone and so is the money. We have seen on paper the big pay raises for teachers and the many ways they may be terminated before they get the raises.

There is no money to negotiate a contract with CSO, therefore, revolving door, 1 year and you're gone. What I'm seeing based on this list is that the recruitment effort has worn thin and some of these placements are "because we can't find anybody" moves. People are tuned in to the game and are not risking leaving a job to come here.

Posted by: candycane1 | August 18, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

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