Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Worcester, let's talk about principals for a minute

Yes, "-pals," not "ples."

Way back in May, we had an announcement of vacancies and replacements at several Worcester schools:
At Forest Grove, where current principal Mark Williams is retiring, the school department has hired Kareem Tatum, who was most recently the assistant principal at North High School and previously worked at Union Hill School, where he was involved in that school’s turnaround efforts. 
Maureen Power, the assistant principal at Jacob Hiatt School, will take over at Lake View for the retiring Margaret Bondar. 
Fjdor Dokor, the lone outside hire announced Friday, who comes from the Boston Public Schools, will replace Patricia McCullough at Clark Street. 
Finally, Ellen Moynihan, who has been acting principal at West Tatnuck since the retirement of Steven Soldi in February, will stay on as the school’s permanent principal. 
In addition to filling those principal openings, the school administration on Friday also announced it is reassigning a couple of current principals to new schools. Ellen Kelley, currently principal at Roosevelt School, will take over at Elm Park School, the district’s lone level 4 school. Elm Park’s principal, meanwhile, Joany Santa, will become principal at Vernon Hill School next year.
Let's be clear that for a district the size of Worcester, this isn't an unusual number of principals in a year; the district does have 44 schools.
Let's also note that we're now two and a half weeks out from school starting, and we have yet to have an announcement on a new principal at Roosevelt (and yes, I know this because I'm a parent there).

Here's what I find interesting: under MGL Ch. 71, sec. 41, superintendents hold the hiring authority for principals. They don't, under that section, have to consult with anyone about the hiring of principals. It's pretty clear, given the way that the retirements and appointments were announced in some cases together, that this is what is happening under Superintendent Binienda: she's simply appointing principals without a public process or consultation.
That is absolutely her right.
But take a look back at how often principals came up in Worcester School Committee meetings under the previous administration. I don't know that there was a single round of hiring that didn't have at least one, and sometimes more, round of School Committee items asking what the public process was for hiring. In most cases, there was one: there was a screening committee of teachers, parents, community members, and (in some cases) students who did the initial evaluation, sending finalists on for superintendent selection. Had there not been--and even when there was!--there would have been an outcry from members of the School Committee.

Now? No public process.
And not a peep.
Do we have less of a commitment to public process? Or did something else change?

1 comment:

Riley Mason said...

Real good points, here!

I might also add that assistant principals would of great interest with subs and especially, with parents. When Gus and Sam were in the WPS, the school had a great AP. (Rosina Porcari sp) who was terrific (along with the Principal, Kerrie Allen.
And with subs -- the staffers we most deal with are APs, so we actually need to note who got promoted and who got more

This must be even more so for parents, I would imagine. Just to see if a child's former teacher is among those promoted etc. etc.

(BTW, am assuming that the teachers are on top of such news just threw the grapevine, so to speak.)