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Ten new principals to take the helm at Newark schools

A teacher leans over to help students seated at desks.

Newark educators and students at ten schools across the district will be led into another unprecedented year by first-time principals starting in September.

Patrick Wall / Chalkbeat

The Newark school board recently approved 13 internal leadership promotions, two outside appointments for vice principal positions, and four resignations of top administrators in the latest staffing shake-up for the district.

It’s unclear if the shuffling of school leaders will pay off as the district heads into another unprecedented year that will focus attention on how Newark helps students and educators recover from the learning disruptions of the last three academic years. 

The departure of vice principals of color runs contrary to district officials’ repeated goal of elevating people of color to leadership positions, especially men.

And after the recent ousting of two first-year principals, the promotion of 10 first-time principals could cause some concern or, at the least, hint to district officials that support is greatly needed during that transition.

School board president Dawn Haynes said in an email this week that the district would provide that necessary support.

Ten of the 13 promotions are for principal positions at elementary and high schools, mostly going to educators who have worked their way up through the ranks in the district. Two promotions are for vice principal positions at elementary schools and one promotion is for a special assistant to the student leadership team. 

The district announced the 10 new principals in an email this week, which, notably, did not include the replacements for the principals at Science Park and Newark Vocational high schools who were removed after one year. 

“I am thrilled to announce one of the most diverse group of principal candidates to be named principal for school year 2022-23,” Superintendent Roger León said in the email. 

León called the promotions “a shining example of internal mobility at its best” and said that school leadership teams helped with the hiring process.

All candidates for the principal positions met with community members, students, staff, and León as part of the interview process, district spokeswoman Nancy Deering wrote in the announcement. 

“Being a principal is the most important leadership role in our schools and we look forward to providing the support needed to be successful,” Haynes said.

A study released in June suggests principal turnover can lead to teacher turnover, and at a time when schools are facing a detrimental teacher shortage, it could cause serious strains on students and educators.

“Principals hire significantly more teachers who persist after they have led their first school for five or more years,” read the findings of the study, which followed 11,717 Texas principals from 1999 to 2017.

The study also showed that principals who enter an “unstable school,” or a school with less than 69% retention in the two years prior to the principal’s arrival, and stay for five years, can counteract prior instability.

Data from the New Jersey Department of Education shows that 87.5% of Newark administrators stayed in their role between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, a lower retention rate than the statewide average of 89.7%.

Here’s a list of leadership changes taking effect ahead of the 2022-23 school year, including resignations, that the school board approved at recent meetings. 

Promotions

Vice principals

Kishanda Montes, one of two vice principals at South 17th Street School, was promoted to the student leadership team as special assistant at a salary of $125,000.

Denise Rawding, a math teacher coach in the district, was promoted to a vice principal position at Roberto Clemente Elementary with a salary of $103,763.

Sandy Ferreira, a teacher coach in the district, was promoted to a vice principal position at Benjamin Franklin School with a salary of $95,319.

Principals

Margaret Murray, who was most recently a vice principal at East Side High School and held other positions in the school throughout her 20-year tenure, was promoted to principal of American History High School with a salary of $134,100 effective July 1. She studied at the University of Illinois, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and University of Phoenix.

Krishna Dalal Barroso was most recently vice principal at Avon Avenue School for eight years. Barroso was promoted to principal of Avon Avenue with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Barroso studied at Seton Hall University and Rutgers University.

Filipa Alexandra Silva was most recently vice principal of Salomé Ureña Elementary School. She was promoted to principal of Dr. E. Alma Flagg Elementary School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Silva studied at Drew University, St. Elizabeth College, and Grand Canyon University.

Carlos M. Rodriguez, who was most recently a vice principal at East Side High School, was promoted to principal of East Side with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. He studied at Kean University and Saint Peter’s University.

Andres Barquin was most recently special assistant to the North Ward Leadership Team and previously served as an after school programs director. He was promoted to principal of Elliot Street School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Barquin studied at Thomas Edison State College, Grand Canyon University, and Caldwell College.

Erica L. Paich most recently served as director of enrollment for the district for two years. She was promoted to principal of Ironbound Academy Elementary School, a new school opening this fall, with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Paich studied at Rutgers University, Kean University, and Rowan University. 

Daniel Guerra, who most recently served as a vice principal at Elliot Street School, was promoted to principal of Luis Muñoz Marin School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Guerra studied at Essex County College, Montclair State University, and John Hopkins University.

Lynnette Dortrait has served as a vice principal at Dr. William H. Horton Elementary School for the last three years. She was promoted to principal of McKinley Elementary School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Dortrait studied at Rider University and St. Peter’s University.

Courtney R. Johnson, who most recently served as special assistant of the high school leadership team, was promoted to principal of Quitman Community School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Johnson studied at the College of New Jersey, Capella University, and New Jersey City University.

Tiffany Wicks, who most recently served as a vice principal at Sir Isaac Newton Elementary School, was promoted to principal of that school with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. Wicks studied at Caldwell University, Montclair State University, and Seton Hall University.

Appointments

Roberta Washington, who was an assistant principal in the Orange Public Schools district, was appointed to a vice principal position at Belmont Runyon School with a salary of $120,651 effective Aug. 30.

Kevin Williams, who was an assistant principal at Irvington High School this past school year, was appointed to vice principal of Central High School with a salary of $133,000 effective Aug. 30 .

Resignations

Norma Diaz, who was one of four vice principals at Barringer High School, resigned from her position effective June 24, the last day of school.

Mariama Sesay-St.Paul, who was the vice principal of curriculum and instructions, the autism program, and the health and physical education program at American History High School, resigned from her position effective June 30. 

Shannon Crowell-Edghill, one of four vice principals at Lafayette Street School, resigned effective June 30.

Krystal Allbright, one of three vice principals at Peshine Avenue School, resigned effective June 30.

Catherine Carrera is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Newark, covering the city’s K-12 schools with a focus on English language learners. Contact Catherine at ccarrera@chalkbeat.org.

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