Duval County Public Schools hired or switched principals at 35 schools this summer, bringing the number of principal switches under Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to about 155.
Among the principal changes this time, 15 were assistant principals promoted to run their own buildings, one elementary principal moved to a middle school and one middle school principal moved to a high school.
At least seven moves occurred at schools undergoing transformations in mission or boundaries.
For instance, R.L.Brown and R.V. Daniels are becoming gifted and talented magnet schools, while S.P. Livingston will specialize in preschool through second grades and Susie Tolbert will accommodate grades 3 through 5. All four got new principals.
At least one principal position remains open, at Alden Road Exceptional Student Center, which serves students with disabilities. Its former principal, Stephanie Smith, now leads Oak Hill Academy, an elementary school that Duval is converting to an autism center.
Interviews are ongoing to select a new Alden Road principal, Vitti said.
Six schools saw their second principal switch in two years: Gregory Drive, Merrill Road, Oak Hill Academy, S.P. Livingston, Mandarin Middle and Northwestern Middle.
Vitti has been criticized in the past by community members who said principal changes destabilize schools.
Vitti has countered that while school stability is important, so is improved academic performance, so he wants principals who are “instructional leaders,” not just managers of school buildings.
This year’s changes were for a variety of reasons, Vitti said.
“One cannot view the principal changes as one singular collective rationale,” he said.
“There are a number of reasons including retirements, resignations, promotions, back fills, principal requests for a different school, demotions, or a stronger fit between the principal’s strengths and school’s needs.”
Bradford Hall, a community activist running for the District 5 School Board seat, recently asked the Board to create a policy requiring that community members, parents and students be consulted on principal changes. The superintendent would continue to make the final decisions.
“The School Board and the Superintendent should affirm support of public voice in public education and recognize the public as a partner in education,” Hall wrote.
Vitti said some of that already occurs. Parents, the Duval Teachers United union, and community members already sit in on principal screenings, which is the process to determine if an assistant principal is ready for principal placement.
“I believe the idea has merit and I am willing to work through the details of it,” Vitti said of Hall’s proposal.
Next year, Duval will begin conducting community “needs assessments” to see what community members and other “stakeholders” want to see in principals, Vitti said.
“This will be used to inform the selection process,” he said. “We do that now informally but the process would be more formal.”
New Duval Schools principal assignments:
Arlington Heights Elementary: Charlene McEarl, former principal at John Stockton Elementary
Bayview Elementary: Johnnie Miller, former assistant principal at Bayview
Biltmore Elementary: Sabrina Session-Jones, former principal at R.L. Brown
Brentwood Elementary: Jackie Jones, hired from Gainesville
Brookview Elementary: Katie O’Connell, former assistant principal at Greenland Pines Elementary
Chimney Lakes Elementary: Beverly Walker, former principal at Westview K-8
Crown Point Elementary: Brett Hartley, former assistant principal at Crown Point
Crystal Springs Elementary: Lashawn Russ, former principal at Romana Elementary
Englewood Elementary: Dino Mullins, former assistant principal at Alimacani Elementary
Garden City Elementary: Michelle Grover, former assistant principal at Mandarin Oaks Elementary
Gregory Drive Elementary: Andrea Schletter, from the district office
Hyde Grove Elementary: Augena Sapp, former assistant principal at West Jacksonville Elementary
John Stockton Elementary: Stephanie Brannan, former principal at Ortega Elementary
Merrill Road Elementary: Peggy Sue Heybruch, former assistant principal at Parkwood Heights Elementary
Normandy Village Elementary: Helen Dunbar, former principal from Biltmore
Oak Hill Academy: Stephanie Smith, former principal at Alden Road
Ortega Elementary: Chiquita Maxwell, former principal at Crystal Springs
Pearson Elementary: Erica Little, former assistant principal at Pearson
Pickett Elementary: Carlene Smith, former assistant principal at Pickett
Ramona Elementary: Detra Demps, former assistant principal at San Mateo Elementary
R.L. Brown Elementary: Star Conner, former principal at Normandy Village
Ruth Upson Elementary: Yvonne Spinner, former assistant principal at Upson
R.V. Daniels Elementary: Lashawn Blackshear, former principal at Susie Tolbert
S.P. Livingston Elementary: Robert Gresham, former principal at R.V. Daniels
Susie Tolbert Elementary: Andrea William-Scott, former principal at S.P. Livingston
Westview K-8: Claire St. Amand, former principal at Oak Hill Elementary
Arlington Middle: Maysha Shelton, former principal at Fort Caroline
Ft. Caroline Middle: Meghan Green, former assistant principal at A. Philip Randolph
Kirby Smith Middle: Kenya Griffin, former principal at Englewood Elementary
Mandarin Middle: Tonya Marx, former principal at Oceanway
Northwestern Middle: Shawn Platts, former assistant principal at JEB Stuart
Oceanway Middle: Emily Kristansen, former assistant principal at First Coast High
A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology: Cathy Barnes, former principal of Frank H. Peterson
Frank. H. Peterson Academies of Technology: Jessica Parrish, former assistant principal at Peterson
Fletcher High: Dean Ledford, former principal at Mandarin Middle