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Principals of three 'Failure Factories' schools will transfer

Shadows line the walkway as students line up outside in the courtyard as they prepare to participate in a no referral party at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Petersburg.


Shadows line the walkway as students line up outside in the courtyard as they prepare to participate in a no referral party at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Petersburg.



Pinellas County Schools superintendent Mike Grego announced a hefty addition to the school board's agenda Tuesday evening: a change of leadership for the district's identified "turnaround" schools, including three of the lowest performing schools in the state.

Grego made a request to amend the agenda to include transfers for the following principals, which are effective July 1:

  • Fairmount Park Elementary principal Benigna Pollauf will transfer to Shore Acres Elementary. She will be replaced by Kristy Moody, who currently serves as principal of Jamerson Elementary.
  • Campbell Park Elementary principal Robert Ovalle will transfer to Mt. Vernon Elementary. He will be replaced by Campbell Park's assistant principal, Christine Hoffman
  • Melrose Elementary principal Nanette Grasso will transfer to Seminole Elementary. She will be replaced by Nikita J. Reed, the principal of Memphis Academy of Health Sciences Middle School.
  • High Point Elementary principal Susan Taylor will become the principal of Southern Oak Elementary. She will be replaced by Oldsmar Elementary principal Michael Feeney.
  • Bear Creek Elementary assistant principal Willette Houston will be promoted to principal of the school. This will become effective July 19.
  • Walsingham Elementary principal Jessely Hathaway will become principal of Gulfport Elementary.

The district will also appoint Yvette McLean-Pilliner to assistant director of school leadership.

READ THE REPORT: how Pinellas leaders turned five once-average schools into Failure Factories

The district conducted a national search for turnaround principals that lasted three weeks and received about 100 applications for multiple positions. Deputy superintendent Bill Corbett said principals are reviewed every spring, and each principal was reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The search, he said, is still ongoing.

"This is the time of year we look at leadership and where people fit best," he said.

Corbett added that research shows that a turnaround process takes around three to five years. Grasso, Ovalle and Pollauf began their careers at their respective years ago three years ago.

"When we ask people to take these schools, we ask them to give us three years," he said. "This is extremely difficult work. We get someone in place, we give them a few years...It's time for a change in leadership to bring it to the next level."

District spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said interviews for the positions took place within the last week and the final decisions were made Tuesday, and therefore were not added to the agenda. She said many of the transfers are part of the district's "turnaround" process.

She said a new agenda with the added proposals was added shortly before the meeting began, and the items are included in the consent agenda, which is voted on as a block with other proposals.


[Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 7:17pm]


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