Principal merry- go-round hurts school communities

Principal merry- go-round hurts school communities
June 25 15:06 2017 Print This Article

There has been great upheaval in the Charleston County School District (CCSD), with 19 new principals in place for the 2017 – 2018 school year.  The  Charleston County consolidated school board ceded the authority for principal hires and transfers in 2016, and hundreds of parents, students and teachers have expressed concerns about the lack of continuity in the CCSD schools.  See the list of new principal positions below:

  1. Academic Magnet High School – Principal Catherine Spencer
  2. A.C. Corcoran Elementary – Principal Quentetta Wright
  3. Angel Oak Elementary – Interim Principal Judith Condon
  4. Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary –Principal Michelle Conner
  5. Burns Elementary – Executive Director on Special Assignment John Cobb
  6. Chicora School of Communications – Principal Mary Reynolds
  7. Daniel Jenkins Academy – Principal Dana Hancock
  8. Department of Alternative Programs – Principal on Special Assignment Shavonna Coakley
  9. Hunley Park Elementary – Principal Michael Griggs
  10. James B. Edwards Elementary – Principal Robin Fountain
  11. James Simmons Elementary – Interim Principal Chris Ryan
  12. Laurel Hill Primary – Principal Ashley M. Dorsey
  13. Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary – Principal Cynthia Perez
  14. Morningside Middle – Principal Stephanie Flock
  15. Moultrie Middle – Principal Ryan Cumback
  16. Mt. Pleasant Academy – Principal Kim Jackson
  17. North Charleston Elementary – Interim Principal Jeffery Beckwith
  18. North Charleston and West Ashley Centers for Advanced Studies – Principal on Special Assignment Lee Runyon
  19. Northwoods Middle – Principal Colleen Knauer
  20. Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts Elementary – Principal Roshon R. Bradley
  21. St. James-Santee Elementary – Principal LaCarma Brown-McMillian
  22. West Ashley Advanced Studies Magnet – Interim Principal Brant E. Glove
  23. West Ashley High School – Principal to Be Announced – Principal Lee Runyon will stay on at the beginning of the 2017 – 2018 school year to ensure a smooth transition

Correction:  The following principals were interim principals and already at the school:

Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts Elementary – Principal Roshon R. Bradley,  Morningside Middle – Principal Stephanie Flock,  Moultrie Middle – Principal Ryan Cumback,  Northwoods Middle – Principal Colleen Knauer

19 out of 80 schools or almost 25% of Charleston County schools will have a new leader this year. Research by the University of Minnesota has found that student achievement will not improve without effective leadership, and it takes five years for a school leader to establish a culture of success.  This is not happening in CCSD.  There has been a revolving door of principals particularly in the high poverty schools.

The Charleston County School Board meets Monday, June 26 at 5:15 pm at the 75 Calhoun St. headquarters building.  The board will take up a proposal by Rev. Chis Collins that the board re-establish a role in principal hires and transfers.  Parents and faculty should have a voice in the selection of a principal.  An effective principal must have the trust of the stakeholders and the merry-go-round  of principals, many of whom have no ties to the community they are serving, makes that trust nearly impossible.

West Ashley Middle School (WAMS) had been making great strides in student achievement under the leadership of Principal LaCarma McMillan.  Enrollment at the school was increasing in recent years, with students transferring from private schools or homeschooling arrangements to participate in the school’s magnet program.  With 73% of WAMS students living in poverty, the school had 21% of its 7th and 8th grade students enrolled in high school credit courses.  Inexplicably, McMillan was transferred to Santee-James, a K-8 school in McClellanville.  The parents, students and teachers have not yet had a chance to meet incoming interim principal Brant Glover, who is coming from River Bluff High School in Lexington County.  That sort of uncertainty makes it difficult to build the culture of success effective schools must have.