The District is quietly replacing 18 of its public school principals, most of whom were hired by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee to turn around the schools.
DC Public Schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz declined to say how many of the 18 principals were retiring, resigning or being fired.
But parents told The Washington Examiner that several principals, including Rhee appointees at Garrison Elementary School and Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson, were terminated. Shaw's principal, Kimberly Douglas, was selected by Rhee after the 2010 murder of popular Principal Brian Betts.
|Where principals are being replaced next school year|
|Aiton Elementary School|
|Ballou STAY High School|
|Brookland Education Campus at Bunker Hill*|
|Browne Education Campus*|
|Cardozo Senior High School|
|Alice Deal Middle School**|
|Garfield Elementary School|
|Garrison Elementary School|
|Langdon Education Campus*|
|Moten Elementary School|
|Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School|
|Prospect Learning Center|
|Seaton Elementary School|
|Shaw Middle School|
|Walker-Jones Education Campus|
|Washington Metropolitan High School|
|Winston Education Campus|
|H.D. Woodson Senior High School|
|Note: Current as of 6/5/12|
|*Ward 5 middle schools are being restructured, but changes are not expected until the 2013-2014 school year. It's not clear if principal turnover at these schools is related to the new plan.|
|**Deal's principal resigned midyear. It is possible the interim principal will continue into next year, so Deal could be removed from the turnover list.|
"I think she's handling it with a lot of grace," said Alice Speck, who is part of a parent leaders group for Ward 1 and Ward 2 schools.
It's become something of a tradition for DCPS to shed dozens of principals each year, and an August article in The Washington Examiner examined how the number of principals turning over in the school system is beginning to stabilize. In fall 2008, the school system replaced 43 principals. That number dropped to 26 in 2009, rose slightly to 30 in 2010, and fell back to 24 last school year.
DCPS officials would not comment on specific cases, or why more than half of the principals being replaced were hired by Rhee.
"We look at a wide variety of factors when we make these decisions, including student achievement, family and community satisfaction, school culture, enrollment and sound operations management," Salmanowitz said in an email. "Our focus always remains on what's best for our students to help them succeed."
A number of the schools facing new principals stumbled on their 2011 standardized tests compared with the previous year. At Garrison, for example, 23.5 percent of students showed proficiency on the math exam, down from 45.2 percent in 2010.
In a May 29 letter, Chancellor Kaya Henderson told Garrison parents and staff to "thank Principal [Rembert] Seaward for his hard work." Seaward was hired in 2009.
Evelyn Boyd Simmons, vice president of Garrison's PTA, said she is waiting for an explanation from DCPS officials on their strategy for the school. Because the principals of Garrison, Shaw and Cardozo Senior High School won't be returning, Simmons is staring at a complete overhaul of her child's "feeder pattern."
"I think that it's sort of like Moses and Aaron -- I think Garrison was in such dire straits that maybe it took someone to get them to a certain distance toward the promised land," Simmons said. "But I'm not sure this particular principal was the one to get Garrison to its ultimate destiny."
Mary Lord, who represents Ward 2 on the school board, said she had not received too many calls from parents about turnover at Garrison or Seaton Elementary School, another campus in the feeder pattern losing its principal.
"I'm not sure any organization can fire its way to excellence, but I also know making no changes and trying to get by on what we've been doing before is the definition of insanity," Lord said.