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Mid-Year Changes Shake Up Principal Positions In Duval Schools

Duval County Public Schools

More than a dozen Duval County principals learned Monday that they’ll be finishing the week in a different school or position than they began.Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti shook things up this week when he informed the district’s principals that he would be making mid-year reassignments in an effort to improve performance in the district's struggling schools.

The 14 principals affected by the changes met one-by-one with Vitti in his office Monday, he said. Later in the day, the superintendent gathered the district’s 160 principals in Ed White High School to discuss the measure.

Vitti said the decision came after reviewing interim data on each school.

“I gave our principals about a semester to demonstrate [improvement] and most have demonstrated the ability to meet the new expectations that have been set,” he said.  “But there were some changes that were made mid-year, obviously, and I felt that those changes needed to be made in order for schools to continue to improve.”

Among the changes — most of which take effect Wednesday — Nicole Townsend, principal West Jacksonville Elementary School, which received an F-grade last year, will take a new post as assistant principal of First Coast High School.

Michelle Floyd Hatcher, who served as principal of A-school Andrew Jackson High School, will take Townsend’s place as principal of West Jacksonville.

Tiffany Torrence, principal at Ribault Middle School, which also received an F last year, will move to a new assistant principal position at soon-to-be Westside Senior High School. Torrence will not replace any of the school’s other assistant principals, Vitti said.

But the changes weren’t based solely on student performance, Vitti said. Mark Ertel, who served as principal of consistently high-performing Darnell-Cookman of the Medical Arts, has been moved to the district’s School Choice Office. Former First Coast High School principal Carol Daniels will take his place at the school.

“I would say Ribault Middle, West Jax, R.L. Brown, and somewhat Jackson are related to student achievement and performance but the other ones are more related to putting the right person in the right position to maximize their experience and their skill set so that kids learn at a higher level,” Vitti said.

Ertel was aware of the decision prior to Monday’s meeting, but most principals were not, Vitti said.

School officials will be hosting meetings Wednesday and Thursday at some of the affected schools from 5 to 7 p.m. to get feedback from the community on the changes.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.