Dear Colleagues:Bill Torque blogging at the Post has more.
At a meeting (requested previously by Chancellor Rhee) at the school at 3:30 today, Ms. Clara Carty, Instructional Supervisor for DCPS Cluster II, which includes Shepherd, informed assembled teachers and parents that Dr. Principal BenZion had been dismissed earlier today "for unforeseen reasons." There was no suggestion that the dismissal was related to school management, instructional outcomes or any other objective measures of performance.
Recall that Dr. BenZion is the principal whom Chancellor Rhee appointed effective July 1 of this year, not heeding the School Panel's recommendation of candidates who were experienced DCPS teachers and administrators. Given her appointment, however, the school community worked closely with the Dr. BenZion to effect a leadership transition aimed at ensuring a high-performance school year by the entire school community.
Parents and teachers at this afternoon's meeting expressed their shock, frustration, and anger at this action as a cynical decision - announced at the end of the school day before a 3-day week-end - that will AGAIN disrupt and set back the work of our teachers, learning by our children, and the trust of this community in the judgment and professionalism of the Chancellor and her DCPS lieutenants.
Ms. Carty agreed to convey to the Chancellor the request by parents and teachers present at the meeting that Chancellor Rhee come to the school to explain her reasons for dismissing Dr. BenZion, and her expectation of its impact on the education of our children this second year in a row in which Shepherd loses a principal during the school year.
We asked, in fact, that the Chancellor - along with Councilwoman Bowser and Mayor Fenty - come to our PTA meeting on Wednesday, October 15 to explain this decision.
WITH JUST A SHORT TIME FOR REFLECTION, HOWEVER, I BELIEVE NEXT WEDNESDAY WILL BE TOO LATE. WE NEED TO HAVE THEM HERE AT THE SCHOOL ON TUESDAY MORNING TO EXPLAIN WHY DR. BENZION IS NOT THERE.
In response to those parents who have already asked what we do now, I do not have any magic answers, but I think we dare not wait until sometime next week for the Chancellor or other dispatched DCPS officials to come and offer equally preposterous explanations of why our school year has again been short-circuited by a decision that appears unwarranted and is clearly ill-advised.
Ms. Carty distributed a letter from the Chancellor that offered no more meaningful explanation than "it is difficult for me to tell you that Galeet BenZion will no longer be the principal of Shepherd." The letter also said that the Chancellor has "appointed," with no consultation, no school/community input, a new principal, who has no experience as a principal, nor DCPS teaching experience.
My personal view - we don't need an appointed Principal Coach at this point. We need back in office the principal in whom we had seen a commitment to increasing academic excellence at Shepherd, and who had - apparently to her peril- advocated strongly for her school to have the resources that DCPS is reasonably expected to provide to facilitate that.
It will be hard to sit through this three-day week-end just accepting this bad decision and its certain consequences. I will check on arranging meeting space - maybe at the library on Georgia Avenue, maybe Saturday, maybe Monday - to allow for an exchange of ideas on strategies for the way forward. I welcome your suggestions. Thanks. EARL
Parent Teacher Association
Shepherd Elementary School
Sunday, October 12, 2008
More on Shepherd Elementary School firing
Earl Yates, the President of the Shepherd Elementary School PTA has released the following letter regarding the recent dismissal of Shepherd's Principal Dr. BenZion.