Some Parents Unhappy With Additional Principal Changes

Jun 2, 2014

Students and their parents at thirty-five Duval County Public Schools will get a chance to meet their new principal this week.

The new principal assignments were released over the weekend, but this week’s meet-and-greet is a ritual that some parents feel they have had to do too many times, especially at Holiday Hill.

This round of principal switches will bring the seventh new principal to the elementary school over the span of about seven years, according to Holiday Hill parent and Student Advisory Council president Ray De Lugo.

De Lugo’s fifth-grade daughter attends the elementary school.

“Somewhere along the line, somebody has to take care of our kids, and they need to do that by putting stable, qualified leadership in place,” De Lugo said.

Teachers and students at Holiday Hill Elementary School.
Credit Duval County Public Schools

Tammy Haberman, who served as principal of Alden Road Exceptional Student Center, will replace current Holiday Hill principal Katrice Scott. In June 2013, Scott replaced principal Amy Lingrin at the school.

“There’s no continuity with the new principal,” De Lugo said. “We are all very comfortable with our teachers, but with a new principal comes different experiences, different likes and dislikes and a different culture.”

It’s a concerned echoed by other parents at the school, said parent and PTA member Gregg Keefer. Keefer’s own daughter will start first-grade in the school this fall.

“Every time they plug somebody new in, there’s all kinds of assurances at the district-level that this is the right fit for this school, and then a year later we’re looking at somebody new,” he said. “So it’s getting hard to believe that.”

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said some of the principal changes are reflective of concerns raised by parents over the last year.

“I think parents, in general, want to see the best leaders in their schools, not just a focus on the status quo or complacency,” he said.

Vitti said as in past years, the decisions were also based on performance-data.  Last year, 30 schools in the district saw principal changes. However, he said he also expects to see fewer changes in the years to come.

This year, the new principals will also be placed in seven of district’s 36 under-performing Quality Education for All schools.

Some of those principals, such as Lashaun Streeter, appointed to Annie Morgan Elementary, will also qualify for the $20,000 performance incentive initiative announced in April. However, the district is waiting on the last batch of 2013-14 FCAT scores to make a final determination.

Over the years, Holiday Hill--which is not a QEA school--has slipped in school-wide performance. After several years of consecutive A’s, the school’s grades began to drop in 2011. Last year, it received its first C since 2000.

However, Keefer said some parents fear that the “revolving door of principals” could be more detrimental to the school.

“It’s just gone on way too long,” he said. “We thought we’d finally arrived at a principal (Scott) that most people were happy with and felt like was really coming in and giving a lot of leadership, and that’s all out the window.”

The new administrators will assume officially assume their new positions the Monday after this school year ends.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.