Deceit causes young principal to resign

Deceit causes young principal to resign
May 17 07:39 2017 Print This Article

Principal Jake Rambo of James B. Edwards Elementary in Mt. Pleasant sent a letter to the nine members of the Charleston County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees and the District 2 Constituent Board (responsible for Mt. Pleasant schools) Tuesday, resigning from his position as a principal in the school district. In the letter, he presented a timeline of events which led to his resignation after less than two years at the school.

On March 29, Rambo was shocked to learn at a principals’ meeting that some teachers would be placed on growth plans based on test scores. That policy had not been set at the beginning of the school year. The school district determined which teachers would be placed on growth plans with no input from the principals. According to the letter, he spoke to his teachers and indicated a hesitation to do this. He said, “I would never use student test scores in isolation to place teachers on improvement plans. Make no mistake: teachers and principals welcome accountability, but they want it to be fair, consistent, and student-centered.”

Rambo then learned he would be reassigned to another school for the 2017-2018 school year. He was extremely upset. He has been at James B. Edwards less than two years and was invested in the school community. He then met with John Cobb, the Executive Director of the Elementary Learning Community,
who stated that Rambo was being moved based on the school’s winter MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores., a national school rating service, gives James B. Edwards an “A- “overall rating and ranks the school 71st out of South Carolina’s 643 elementary schools.

On April 25 Rambo met with Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. He states in his letter, “She indicated that the school’s data supported I did not have experience working in a “low income” school and said, “You are a young guy. You’ve not had the experience working under a strong principal leader, have you?” Rambo actually had been mentored by Francine Mitchell who was appointed by Postlewait as the, Interim Director of Administrator Hiring and Leadership Development. Rambo told Postlewait that no one from the district had visited the school or indicated concerns about test scores. She said, “Your future in CCSD depends on how you handle this situation. You could either play the victim, or you could tell your community it was your decision to leave James B. Edwards and that you’ve been ‘called’ to lead a school with students who need you more. This is your truth to tell.”

Rambo states in his letter that he felt Postlewait was suggesting, “I misrepresent ‘my’ intentions to a community I love because of what appeared to be test scores.” On May 5, Terri Nichols, the Associate Superintendent of Schools, visited the school and met with the faculty and staff without Rambo present. She informed them that the decision to reassign Rambo was not about test scores. After the meeting she told Rambo, “The superintendent is not happy with this.”

Rambo had been with the district for 10 years. He has resigned effective June 30, 2017, due to a “fundamental, philosophical difference with (district) leadership.”

Public school advocacy group EdFirstSC has called upon concerned citizens to sign up for the public comment period and speak out against the CCSD personnel policies before the regularly scheduled School Board meeting Mon., May 22 at 5:15 at the CCSD headquarters, 75 Calhoun St. in downtown Charleston.