Principal Appointments

I don't know anything about any of these principals, but I thought if I posted this, it would give everyone an opportunity to comment upon them:

Dear Seattle Public Schools staff,

Today I am delighted to announce several principal appointments. The following interim principals, currently serving at their schools, have been appointed principals after receiving input from their schools’ families and staff, and information from their mid-year performance evaluations:

Graham Hill Elementary: Walter Chen
Maple Elementary: Elena Sanchez
Lawton Elementary: Dorian Manza
Salmon Bay K-8 @ Monroe: Dr. Neil Gerrans

In addition, last week I also transferred and appointed Treena Sterk into the principalship of Eckstein Middle School, replacing Sherri Kokx who has taken a position in School Operations. Ms. Sterk’s move to Eckstein from her current position as principal at Cascade Parent Partnership Project has created an opening at Cascade. The district’s plan is to post and fill that position soon. In the meantime, retired principal Dr. Terry Meisenburg is serving as interim principal.

I also want to take this opportunity to review the principal appointment process in Seattle Public Schools. There are essentially four ways principals are appointed. One is to post an announcement and accept applications. In this case, qualified applicants are presented to the school. The executive director of schools and the school’s building leadership will create a committee and steps to screen those candidates down to three individuals who are presented to the superintendent. The superintendent then makes a decision and appointment.

Another way a principal is appointed is as a direct appointment to interim principal. This takes place when there is a need to have someone in place who can maintain momentum in a school and minimize disruptions, not allowing time for typical school community input. In these instances, the superintendent makes an interim appointment.

A third way is to appoint an interim principal as principal. This is done after building leadership has had sufficient time to review the interim’s performance, compare their performance to the school community’s desired attributes in a principal, and gather community input. This feedback is considered in the superintendent’s decision to make the appointment.

The fourth way is for the superintendent to make a direct appointment of a principal through transfer. In these cases, the superintendent appoints a principal based on desired attributes gathered from the school community.

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Chen, Ms. Sanchez, Mr. Manza, Dr. Gerrans, Ms. Sterk and Dr. Meisenburg in their appointments. Thank you for your dedicated professionalism and service to our schools and students.


Larry Nyland
Seattle Public Schools


Anonymous said…
Nice to see a little clarity on the process.

While there are still methods for the Supt to appoint w/o feedback, which is a bit of an equity issue (why do some school communities get hiring committees and others done?), at least there is a little clarity as to how and why this is done.

Under Banda, crickets.

mirmac1 said…
SPS loses building auction.
Anonymous said…
I find it hard to believe that Salmon Bay parents approved of Neil Gerrans. Unless most parents were lying it seemed the majority of parents I spoke with disapproved. SPS again does what it wants and what SPS wants is for SB to go away by being replace with a plain vanilla K-8.

Anonymous said…
What is SB @ Monroe?

seattle citizen said…
SB is Salmon Bay, an alternative Option K-8 in NW Seattle.
syd said…
Third principal at Graham Hill in a year?
Anonymous said…
"Monroe" is the name of Salmon Bay's classic building. Just like lots of schools are at Lincoln, but that doesn't mean the school's name is Lincoln.
Anonymous said…
Mr. Manza has been a fabulous principal at Lawton since his arrival. He knows how to build unity with staff, parents, and students. Knowing how to build relationships and communication excellence are skills not emphasized enough when it comes to administration.

Anonymous said…
Treena Sterk is incredible and Eckstein is lucky. Unfortunately the home school program got completely screwed, with the district moving the principal 2 weeks before a huge move to a new building. This would not have happened in a comprehensive, traditional school.

Cascade Parent
Walter Chen has been the interim principal at Graham Hill. Our family is no longer at the school (it's been 8 years), but it's my understanding that the PTA (at least) is pleased with his appointment to permanent principal.
Anonymous said…
The middyear musical chairs is pure crap. There is no other name. Another supe pulls the same crappy yank-the-leadership games that the ones before him have. Did we really need to get that musical chairs game going by filling a downtown position midyear? It couldn't have waited 5 months to give stability where it is needed most...IN THE BUILDINGS WITH THE KIDS.

Why are people not more up in arms? Cascade Partnership, which has been through A LOT, gets its principal yanked with no notice THE WEEK BEFORE IT HAS TO MOVE TO NEW QUARTERS?! How is that even defensible? One of the most knocked around constituencies - Eckstein - loses its principal in the first year when it gets back on its feet from the enrollment boundary wars? Salmon Bay K8 gets a principal without the deep community dive that other alternative schools (TOPS) have demanded as is their right?

Graham Hill - multiple turnovers, one year?!

How is this anything but bad business as usual out of downtown? Which leads to the post I just made on the thread below where I give some sympathy to Tomiko-Santos for wanting to throw the book at Central Administration.

Anonymous said…
I know that Neil Gerrans is a data-loving fool, and that the alternative component that was alive and well at Salmon Bay during Jodee Reed's day is being squashed to death.

Alternative education is an endangered species.

-former Salmon Bay parent
Anonymous said…
Cascade parents have already been told who is next in line to be principal. "Interviews" are going on, but the job recipient has already been announced.

It is ridiculous that we are losing our principal while our entire program is in the process of renovating and moving to a different school. Many of the kids at Cascade have difficulty with processing transitions and stress - far beyond the general population. It is obvious the kids weren't taken into account with this abrupt change. By the time the parents were notified, the principal was slated to not be at school again. There were no goodbyes unless you happened to attend at a particular time.

I heard that the faculty and staff were given just two days notice before the principal departed. What a poorly conceived plan.
Anonymous said…
DistrictWatcher, some of us are up in arms about the mid-year shuffle. Cascade has lost the principal who, in addition to being an extraordinary communicator, planned the move to North Queen Anne Elementary. Now we've got stressed children trying to learn with boxes piled all around them and no library. We've got stressed staff packing before and after school and trying to teach in filthy, half-empty classrooms. Because it is the Parent Partnership, we've got increasingly stressed moms and dads packing boxes and trying to maintain some illusion of calm in a total mess. The move to Queen Anne is taking place in multiple stages with no inventory of materials and no space planning. Next week, families have an extended winter break and hope to start fresh at a bright new facility on QA on February 23. This is all going on without a permanent principal. It's hard to imagine that the District's priority is learning when one sees such chaos deliberately occurring in the middle of the school year.

Another Cascade Parent
Anonymous said…
So, Larry is flashing his teeth. At us. Good for him.

He said, we can do it fairly, with a hiring committee, etc, or, an interim that is 'working out' can stay, or, i just say who and that is that.

Everybody clear?


Now, it is crystal clear. He can do whatever he wants. At least he owns it. And, at least he makes no apology. He has power, he is saying he will use his power, and that is the end of the conversation.

As I said, good for him. It is refreshing to find someone is Seattle who will bare his teeth to you just to be clear as to the sharpness and strength of those canines.

Of course, the issue is what distinguishes a school from being a golden child, like TOPS, who gets to compose a hiring committee, and therefore avoid objectionable candidates, vs the lesser untouchable, that is merely dictated to.

Is there an equitable framework for defining golden child school from lesser untouchable school?

Equity all the way!
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Mas said…
Okay. Those are the four different processes.

That doesn't tell us how the superintendent decides which of the four to apply at each school?
Max said…
I've toured Graham Hill, and spoken with teachers, students, parents, and PTA members. From all accounts, Walter Chen is a big get for Graham Hill. They say he's motivated, organized, effective and maybe most important, very invested in the community. The last point is so important because it hopefully means that he can be really good without moving to a "higher profile school" (like South Shore) or some nebulous administrative position. I guess we'll see...

In any case, that feedback along with other factors have made us confident enough that we'll be sending our kindergartner there next year.
Totem said…
Treena Sterk -- great if you're a parent. Horrible if you're staff. She'll side with parents every time just to avoid conflicts with downtown. I feel your pain, Eckstein.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, from what I was told the process that applies to any particular school is dictated by the unique situation, as it should be. Supt. Nyland's explanation is consistent with that as well. If there's time for a full search, they do that and there can be community input. That would be the first option he mentioned. (That said, if the application process doesn't yield any acceptable candidates in time, the Supe may step in and appoint an interim or permanent.)

Options 2 and 4 refer to ways to more quickly fill the gap. Directly appointing an interim (opt. 2) could mean moving an Asst Principal or someone else into to the position temporarily. Transferring another principal over from somewhere else (opt. 4) can also be done if they think that's the best bet. With option 2 the placement is interim since that person is not an experienced principal, whereas with option 4 they are simply appointed as the new principal, since you can't really ask them to help out and then demote them to interim status, right? (It's not unheard of for principals in this situation to request the "interim" title, though, allowing the community a chance to gauge the fit.)

Option 3 is somewhat different, as it doesn't address a new vacancy. It's the process by which an interim principal is assessed and potentially offered the position permanently. I don't know how rigorous that assessment process is though, and how bad an interim has to be to not get the job f/t. But at least there's an opportunity for folks to speak up, and hopefully they do so loudly if there are major problems.

So that's the way it was explained to me, and there does seem to be a logic to it. I don't know that these processes are always adhered to in practice (e.g., does every community get a say in selection if they go the announcement/application pool route?), and I don't know how high the bar is for keeping interims on. I also wonder how much back room dealing might go on re: the direct appointments, given the likelihood that multiple sitting principals might be interested in the same vacancy.

Anonymous said…
I imagine that we will all be seeing Cothron McMillian's name on a posting of this sort in the near future. At the last staff meeting she berated, intimidated, and demeaned staff due to finding out she had been rated as a "1" on staff surveys, which, according to her, is why she can not get the raise she "deserves". She then went on to yell ( yes, yell) that if staff truly feel that way about her then she doesn't know why she "bothers" to show up to work and she should just apply elsewhere. Mind you, Cothron L. McMillian is rarely at school and, when she does appear, she comes well after 11 and sits in the front office to use the intercom to dole out detention.

It would be AMAZING if MLK was able to get out from underneath her ineffective and downright scary leadership... but I truly feel for the next school that she is bounced to. Over the last few years I have seen it all. She is verbally abusive to staff members, unreliable, alienates and divides staff, as well as bullies them. It is mid February and she still has not done the first round of observations! How are students getting the best out of their education when their teachers have not been provided with the feedback necessary for growth?

Again, I'm looking forward to the next few years when she will be long gone and her presence erased, but I am dreading her placement at another school site.

Simply google her name to see that the 'related searches' links are ' how to get rid of a bad principal' and 'how to report a bad principal'.
NW mom said…
McMiilian was principal at Whittier for a year or perhaps two when my kid was there. The only time I ever saw her during the day was at lunch once when she stood on the stage and screamed at the kids over a microphone. You could've heard her screaming just fine without amplification, I'm telling ya. Was not sad to see her go.
Anonymous said…
HIMS mom: Alternative schools by board code HAVE THE RIGHT to be a part of the principal process. The district IS NOT ALLOWED to plop a principal down in an alternative school without community input. The way to put a stop to the supe walking all over an ALTERNATIVE school is for the school's PTA or Site Council to put its foot down loudly - scream to the board and to the press.

It's worked for TOPS and Thornton Creek.Parents and staff need to stop letting their schools be crushed by downtown.

Dog-in Fight

Anonymous said…
Dog-In Fight,

Interesting you say that...the new principal and asst. principal were quite involved with a recent special election of the Friends of Salmon Bay's elementary school co-chair. Overstepping much?

FOSB has a go-along/get-along-type mentality even if that is to the detriment of the students. Ex: Having five math curriculums going on in the elementary school up until about three years ago. Sorry--alternative isn't the same thing as incompetent to me. Why you see many in the middle school fretting about how their children are faring in math.

- seafarer

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