Monday, June 16, 2014

Seattle School Leadership Changes at South Shore/Graham Hill

South Shore K-8 is losing its award-winning principal, Keisha Scarlett.  Their new principal will be Dr. Laurie Morrison who had previously served as assistance principal and was the principal at Graham Hill Elementary.  Ms. Scarlett is going to be the district's "principal leadership coach."

What is odd is that a survey was sent home Thursday night to parents about input on the principal.  It had also been available on the SS website but it's unclear for how long.  It seems odd to do that unless you didn't have any community input on the selection of a new principal.  (To note, the district's previous agreement with the New School Foundation that help to fund South Shore included a notation that New School had a say in the principal.  I wonder if the agreement with LEV has the same notation.) 

There is also an article in the Rainier Valley Post on Graham Hill parents who are very unhappy with leadership changes at their school that see their entire leadership team change.  They want the district to undo these changes.  (The article notes that it was written by a parent at GH.)

It was 4 pm Friday — about an hour after school let out for the last weekend of the year — when Superintendent Jose Banda sent the Graham Hill Elementary School community a mass email announcing that principal Dr. Laurie Morrison is being transferred to South Shore PK-8 in Rainier Beach, replacing current South Shore principal Keisha Scarlett, who has been appointed Principal Leadership Coach for the district.

The changes leave no one in charge to orient the new staff scheduled to start at Graham Hill in the fall, including a librarian, a family support specialist, a special education position, several instructional assistants and seven teachers — nearly half of the 16-member teaching staff — most of them first-year educators who were recruited by Morrison and are expecting to work for her when they start in the fall.

The parents also took issue with the way the information was delivered, saying that many of the school’s families don’t have computers or easy access to email.

“In Dr. Morrison’s case, and considering the highly complex needs of South Shore, principal of South Shore PK-8 is an ideal position for her skill set and experience,” wrote Banda. “In her new role, she will be able to use her expertise in early learning as well as her previous experience as the Assistant Principal and Director of Early Learning at South Shore to continue the progress South Shore has seen over the past years.”

How is South Shore any more complex than Graham Hill (except for being a K-8)?

What is disturbing is that it was announced that the assistant principal wouldn't even finish this school year.

According to Morrison’s email, Kodama “decided to look for new opportunities to stretch his ‘school leadership legs’ in some neighboring school districts.”

It's not like GH parents didn't try to gain some understanding of the situation:

PTA co-presidents Wendy Alsup and Jeannie Thomas say they tried contacting Executive Director of Schools for the Southeast region Kelly Aramaki to discuss the changes as early as Wednesday of last week, but he hasn’t returned any of their calls or emails. Neither has the District Ombudsman, whose job, according to SPS, is to “ensure that all members of the Seattle Public Schools community receive fair and equitable treatment in matters of concern or complaint.”

Once again we see the classic SPS move of announcing/making changes at a time when parents have little time to react. And this time it appears that money/politics had something to do with it rather than the best interests of both schools.

Wendy Alsup, Graham Hill PTA co-president, submitted a guest post on this subject that I will post.


Po3 said...

"Principal Leadership Coach"


Best not hear another peep about no money for math books!

Anonymous said...

And yet another great in building leader taken away from students. This middle management bloat has got to stop. Our students are paying too heavy of a price.


Anonymous said...

the "survey" asking forinput on the qualities SS families most desired in a new principal actually didn't even close (or so they say) until Friday evening. Yet, the annoucement was made Friday afternoon.

Anonymous said...


Principal coach? Yet another new position for the org chart? Or was this one already on the chart/in the trough?

I thought when the whole layer of ex directors were implemented and install their specific role was to mentor, support and coach the principals. Are they inadequate? Or, are our principals that hapless?

This is just so so so top-heavy it is ridiculous.

Hello, Banda? You there? You've 'suit-ed up' to the nth degree, what exactly do you do? Do you ever talk to a principal, you know, just for a change of pace?

How many SPS suits does it take to change a light bulb? Plenty! And then some!

And really, why are some buildings more equal than others when it comes to hiring a principal? Some get hiring committees, some get notice... some just get dictated to, or, the dregs.


Anonymous said...

Principal Leadership Coach? What exactly are the Exec Directors doing? The JSCEE Middle Management Morass appears alive and well.

Time for a citizen review on how fast HQ is once again sucking $$ out of our classrooms.


Charlie Mas said...

As an option school, isn't Southshore covered by the alternative education policy, C54? I think it is. And that policy says that "School community participates in the selection of instructional, support and
administrative staff.

This appointment is a violation of the policy and the Board should step in and enforce the policy.