Four days after the Atlanta Board of Education approved a new principal at North Atlanta High in Buckhead, its current leadership was removed from the school without warning Friday.
Harold E. Taylor, the school’s new principal, is not expected to start there until Oct. 29, but Friday afternoon, a parent informed the Neighbor by phone that interim Principal Mark MyGrant and his senior staff was asked to leave the school, with security present.
District 4 school board member Nancy Meister, a Buckhead resident whose two children graduated from North Atlanta, represents the area. In a phone interview Saturday, Meister said she was not at the school when the leadership was escorted off campus, but confirmed the news and said she heard about it from those who were there. She said MyGrant was told he would no longer be working for the school district and that his senior staff would be reassigned to other schools in the district.
“I do know that a group from downtown administration came in and spoke to the administrative leaders and Mark MyGrant, and I did hear from some teachers that there was an assembly of teachers to explain what was happening,” she said.
A letter from Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis posted to the district’s website Friday afternoon stated North Atlanta’s leaders would be removed or reassigned to other schools. The letter in part states:
Effective Friday, interim Principal Mark MyGrant will complete his duties at NAHS. Principal Mentor Sid Baker (former principal of Sarah Smith Elementary School) will serve as the site leader and act as the lead transition agent for Dr. Taylor. Our principal mentor program is part of an improved process for introducing new leaders to schools, utilizing a site-specific transition program.
While Dr. Taylor will immediately begin transitioning as the new principal at NAHS, his official start date is Monday, Oct. 29.
As part of a total leadership transition at NAHS, we have installed eight transition academy leaders and a transition assistant principal.
o Interim Fine Arts Director Raymond Veon and Principal Mentor Cheryl Twyman will serve as the transition academy leaders for the Center for the Arts.o Federal Grants Specialist Donna McBride and Career and College Readiness Coordinator Kenya Gilliard will serve as the transition academy leaders for the Center for International Business and Entrepreneurship.
o Education Specialist LaDonna Jones and Gifted and Talented Coordinator Gyimah Whitaker will serve as the transition academy leaders for the Center for International Studies.
o World Language Coordinator Anita Lawrence and Principal Mentor Amy Alderman (formerly principal of Garden Hills Elementary School) will serve as the transition academy leaders for the Center for Broadcasting and Journalism.
o Principal Coach Gregory Middleton will serve as the transition assistant principal.
Additional APS instructional leaders will be available to provide support during the transition period and to ensure that we prevent any potential gaps in service to our students.
The letter closes by stating, “With the assistance of the transition team, Dr. Taylor will put a new permanent leadership team of his choice in place as soon as possible.”
It gives no explanation why the current school leadership was removed or reassigned.
MyGrant, a 33-year educator, had served as principal at North Atlanta for five years and at nearby Sutton Middle for 10 before retiring in June. He returned to the school the following month when a replacement could not be found in time for the start of the school year in August. A second search brought forth Taylor as the new principal.
Meister said she was “dumfounded” by the incident.
“It came out of the blue,” she said. “I don’t agree with it and I don’t support it. I don’t know what to say.”
Meister said she talked to Davis about the situation Friday.
“It’s his position and he wants them to have their own leadership team,” she said. “In my opinion it was not handled professionally. Just being a personnel decision and bringing in his own leadership team, I can think of several other ways to handle it. Just a sad day.”
In emails sent Saturday to parents, school board members and the media regarding Friday’s incident, parents Parker Pruett and Andrea Shelton questioned the timing of the change, especially since the school’s International Baccalaureate accreditation is up for review in about a week. In her email, Shelton wrote she was concerned that the district was “announcing the administration change [to parents] on a Friday evening at 5 p.m. via robo-call.”
School district spokesman Stephen Alford said Saturday the decision to make the leadership change Friday was done so the transition team would be in place when Taylor starts as principal later this month. The school system is off Monday for Columbus Day and students will be off Tuesday for a teacher professional learning day, according to the district’s website.
Phone messages left Saturday with Davis’ home and MyGrant’s cell were not returned.
According to the school’s website (http://bit.ly/QX4mBi), Davis will meet with school parents and other stakeholders Tuesday at 6 p.m. at North Atlanta.
A copy of Davis' letter can be found by visiting http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/cms/lib/GA01000924/Centricity/Domain/3377/NAHS%20Transition.pdf.
In a Monday email to the media and parents, Chandler Rudd, a trustee with the North Atlanta High School Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm, announced an online petition (http://chn.ge/Q7VEke) demanding the old leadership be retained.