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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Principal out, A.P. under investigation at Bailey Elementary

Russell Wallace, shown here at a school board meeting, speaking out about the need for security guards, is leaving Bailey Elementary School.

CAROLINA HIDALGO | Times

Russell Wallace, shown here at a school board meeting, speaking out about the need for security guards, is leaving Bailey Elementary School.

Questions remain about Bailey Elementary School, but this much is clear: Russell Wallace is out as principal.

Subject to a School Board vote, he'll be reassigned to another school, most likely as an assistant principal, district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said Friday.

Arja also confirmed that Bailey's assistant principal, Jamie Whitlow, has been under investgation by the Office of Professional Standards, and that matter is still under way.

The investigation of Wallace was winding down, and Arja said the file should be available for public view next week.

Teachers and families at the Dover school have been worrying about how the disruption will affect preparations for the upcoming year.

"We are looking to get a new principal in place very quickly," Arja said. At the same time, she added, district leaders will look for input from staff, parents and the community. "We're doing what we believe is in the best interset of the students at the school," she said.

It's not yet clear why Wallace, 42; and Whitlow, 54; were investigated in the first place.

When the district pulled Wallace out of the school at the very end of May, the district said it was because of a disagreement with parents.

Since then, district leaders have been meeting with teachers, in some cases at their request. One such gathering took place near the end of June, but Arja said it was arranged to give teachers a chance to express their concerns about stability at the school.

Wallace joined the district in 2001. He took over Bailey in 2013, when Amy Zilbar became a principal coach. In that year, the school grade climbed from a D to an A, which Superintendent MaryEllen Elia celebrated by holding her back-to-school news conference there when the following school year began.

The school is now a B, and this year has had its ups and downs. Under Wallace's leadership, Bailey won a state literacy award. It also endured an embarassing news cycle when First Lady Ann Scott read from the adult version of A Land Remembered, and later apologized for passages that were not suitable for young children.

[Last modified: Sunday, July 10, 2016 2:20pm]

    

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