Last minute turnover of principals has parents protesting

By Judy Wilson | Associate Editor

Deerfield Beach – A vocal contingent of parents from Deerfield Park Elementary School are saying former assistant principal Donna Rucker should replace principal Jocelyn Reid who was reassigned to Walker Elementary just days before school started.

Their argument: During her tenure at the school, Rucker was very popular. They want to bring her back “so she can hit the ground running” at the beginning of the school year.

Reid’s reassignment was announced just 10 days before the summer recess ended, taking everyone by surprise. School Board Representative Nora Rupert said her first thought was “this cannot happen . . . I was very concerned.”

Reid was offered the Walker post because she is one of a very few Broward County principals with the state certification required to administer an “at-risk” school. Rupert said she was told Reid was given the “opportunity” to make the change. It came with a substantial salary increase, Rupert said.

Last week, at a community meeting hosted by the School Board, the parents told North Regional Elementary School Director Maria Perez they did not want the usual hiring process to begin.

“This community doesn’t want an outsider,” Terry Scott said.

That Reid left Deerfield Park after 10 years that produced “great success,” is not at issue, Scott added. “We celebrate her. What is upsetting is that the school board is misleading the parents.”

Donna Rucker, the choice of many parents. [Courtesy]

Before the school board summer recess, Superintendent of Schools Vickie Cartwright said all reassignments had been made. “This is totally unfair. Our community suffers when games are played with the school system.”

Scott said that several fifth-grade teachers left Deerfield Park to go with Reid. The result is classrooms with 40 students. “The city ought to get involved with this because this is our community,” he added.

The same last-minute reassignment occurred also at Tedder Elementary at the city’s southern border. Principal Shinita Coachman Beavers’ reassignment was announced Aug. 4. She took over at the Endeavor Primary Learning Center and its principal, Denise Lawrence, was assigned to Tedder.

Deerfield Park is a magnet school for the visual and performing arts. Serving as interim principal is Keandra Fulton, an intern principal at the school last year.

The meeting notice to parents, delivered in school backpacks, was received by some the day before last Thursday’s session. About 20 parents attended and were “forceful” in their comments, said Gwyn Clarke Reed, who learned of Reid’s reassignment the day before the meeting.

Reed, a former state representative and chair of the city’s Education Advisory Committee, said the parents “loved” Rucker during her tenure at the school. She was critical of the fact Dr. Jermaine Fleming, north area superintendent, did not attend the meeting.

She was also critical of the fact the school board came to town to initiate the hiring process.  “The parents were very adamant they didn’t want the process,” Reed said. “Fact is, that process was set aside recently at Deerfield Beach High School when Jon Marlow returned as principal.” After a short stint heading up a department downtown, Marlow returned to Deerfield when no suitable replacement could be found.

“What’s going on with the school board?” Reed said. “If you can reassign Marlow without the process, you can bring back someone the community has faith in.”

Perez said at the meeting she would take the parents’ remarks to Cartwright. but several days later the district’s communications office issued this statement. “A decision has not yet been made as the district is following the process for the selection and appointment of school-based administrators. This process includes obtaining valuable input from all stakeholder groups in order to create a profile for the job that describes the characteristics of the ideal candidate.

“The job vacancy was posted for all individuals interested in applying.”

One response to “Last minute turnover of principals has parents protesting”

  1. Report the whole story here. 1/2 truths and allegations are not proof of what is happening. Not one classroom has ever had more than 20 students period. Even though Ms Fulton has done extremely well running the school you overlook the challenges she has faced as an interim principal dealing with extreme shortages 2 days before staff was due on campus. The community and staff bullied, yes bullied her and should be ashamed for acting like spoiled 2 year old children throwing a fit because they can’t have there way. For shame!

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