DeKalb parents, teachers upset over principal reassignments

- Parents, teachers, and staff lined up one after another Monday night to express their disappointment after school officials reassigned nine principals from their elementary schools last week.

"The decision to reassign our principal is already having a rippling effect," said Teri Swinton, a paraprofessional and vice president of the PTO at Panola Way Elementary in Lithonia. "It is demoralizing. It is deflating."

The moves were made as part of the DeKalb County School District's new School-Based Leadership Reorganization (SBLR) process. Administrators used five key indicators to assess whether "underperforming" schools were making any progress:

1.             The principal has served more than three years before July 1, 2013.

2.             The school’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score was less than 60 in 2016.

3.             The school’s average CCRPI score for 2014-2016 is less than the 2014 score (the school has lower test scores than the first measurement year).

4.             The school did not outperform the “Beating the Odds” designation.

5.             The school did not exit the state’s “focus” or “priority” designation from 2015-2018 (cohort).

The reorganization has resulted in the reassignment of principals at Dresden, Rock Chapel, Panola Way, Oak View, International Student Center, Shadow Rock, Stoneview, Flat Rock and Snapfinger Elementary School.

"We need to see progress and if we don't see progress, it's not necessarily against that principal, it's just whether that person was the right fit for that school at that time in terms of its development," explained Dr. R. Stephen Green, the DeKalb County School System superintendent.

With just a few days left in the school year, some questioned the timing of the reorganization.  Green, however, said the decisions had to be made by May 15, the date next year's contracts were due.

Many who spoke Monday night said their schools were making progress, but not necessarily in ways that can be measured by tests and indexes.

"Where we go from here?  Parent letters, calls, emails--we will not sit down quietly with this because Principal [Ethan] Suber deserves to continue what he started with the school," said Swinton.

Dr. Green said none of the principals have been terminated, but will be reassigned to other available positions in the district. He said they were all given the option to finish out the school year.

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