As a teacher in this district since 2003, I have seen numerous changes related to curriculum, initiatives, and personnel. Within four different schools in the district, I have been under the leadership of 11 principals. I have been able to see teachers, counselors, assistant principals, and even librarians be promoted to the coveted title of principal in our district.
I have also borne witness to the changing of the guards, whether it be voluntary or otherwise, as principals are deemed to be ineffective by the district or state. The district has a rule that when principals are deemed ineffective and removed (demoted) from their position they may never be a principal in the district again.
This rule does not allow for a principal to get further training with the hopes of returning to their former position or a position that is comparable. From my experience in JCPS, this rule applies more often to Principals of Color. I would love to be wrong here and I anxiously wait for someone to correct me but I have seen my former assistant principal (a Black man) who became principal at a low performing school be told that he is ineffective and demoted to an assistant principal.
I also witnessed my former principal (Black female) be told she was ineffective before her two-year mark and also demoted to an assistant principal. Both principals took over schools that were highly ineffective before their arrival and these principals are not given enough support or time to turn their schools around.
By contrast, I have seen a principal (White male) be deemed ineffective at Doss High School and moved laterally to a principal position at Phoenix. This is the same as a promotion because there is a lot less responsibility at Phoenix than Doss. Less work plus same pay equals a promotion. Another ineffective principal (White female) at Stuart, who replaced another demoted Black principal for being ineffective, is promoted. How? Not only was the White principal ineffective, but she was also promoted to a board job. This is blatant racism and must be called out for what it is.
Plus I read this morning that Jerry Mayes, the principal at Manual who made completely inappropriate and racist remarks on a recording was allowed to retire and received $60,000 from our district so he wouldn’t sue. As a Teacher of Color, I get the message in the era of Donald Trump. We (People of Color) need to know our place in this society and anything that validates our positive existence, our strength, and intellectual aptitude will be formally denounced and stripped unless we stand up and fight.
As a member of the district’s Racial Equity Committee, I believe that we should replace that systemic racist rule that keeps strong Leaders of Color from being returned as school leaders. Principals who are demoted should be given an opportunity to develop themselves professionally and given a chance to be reinstated as a principal in our district. One of the goals of the Racial Equity Committee is to increase the numbers of Administrators of Color. Why not start with administrators who were unfairly demoted in the first place?
Finally, our students benefit from seeing adults who reflect them. Students suffer when they don’t. Students and teachers both suffer when we see inequities in our district. If the district continues to demote Leaders of Color, it will continue to reinforce the negative images that Leaders of Color are ineffective and further dampen the spirit of an already vulnerable people. So let’s encourage JCPS to commit to its goal of hiring more Administrators of Color but at the same time, let’s practice equity with the Administrators of Color who already work tirelessly in our district.