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Sandy Lane Elementary principal Tzeporaw Sahadeo picked to be next Transformation Zone director

Sandy Lane Elementary principal Tzeporaw Sahadeo has been chosen to replace Antonio Burt as the next director of School Transformation for Pinellas County Schools.

The Pinellas County School Board agenda for today's 5 p.m. board meeting was updated this morning to add her appointment. If approved, the promotion will be effective July 1. 

Sahadeo, 40, came to Pinellas last year to lead Sandy Lane Elementary, a Clearwater school in the Transformation Zone. Before that, she was an educational consultant and staff developer for Marzano Center, Learning Sciences International for three years. The Pinellas County school district implemented the Marzano model to evaluate all staff in 2015.

From 2011 to 2013, Sahadeo was the manager and director of HOPE Educational Opportunities in Tampa for three years before she closed the company in 2014. She was also a principal for Florida Virtual Schools in Orlando for two years and spent 11 years as a classroom teacher and principal in Hillsborough County Schools.

Under her yearlong leadership at Sandy Lane, at least 12 teachers have left the school out of a staff of 44. The rate of third graders passing the English Language Arts Florida Standards Assessment exam with a score of 3 or higher dropped 1 percentage point to 26 percent this year.  Fourth and fifth grade test scores have not been released yet.

Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students president Ricardo Davis said his organization has requested a copy of Sahadeo's resume.

"What we know is Dr. Burt has done some good work in some of those schools that are showing progress," he said. "The real question is who can best improve upon what he has done. I don't know of anyone in the district with that kind of background and that kind of experience."

Davis said School Board members "should ask the right questions and make sure they're comfortable that the right decision is being made."

Former St. Petersburg police chief and deputy mayor Goliath Davis, who actively participates in COQEBS, said he did not know Sahadeo personally but thought Sandy Lane's third grade scores indicated the school was heading in the wrong direction.

"We were looking for an outsider," he said, "someone who would come in and challenge the district's ways."

The Transformation Zone director position was created in December 2015 to turn around five historically low-performing schools. That zone has since grown to include a total of eight elementary schools.

Burt resigned from the position in May for personal reasons, but has offered to return as a consultant as needed to help with the transition.

According to the agenda, the position was advertised for two weeks and 47 applicants applied. Of those, four were interviewed.

Also on the agenda is an appointment for manager of talent acquisition new position approved in January with an emphasis on hiring minority candidates. Carlmon J. Jones, an assistant principal at Pinellas Park Middle, will fill the position pending School Board approval on June 26.

It is unclear if Jones' position will fill the role of minority recruitment specialist, which is defined in the district's new Bridging the Gap plan as a job that focuses on recruiting a highly qualified, diverse workforce. The school district is under pressure to hire more black teachers to mirror the school district's black student enrollment of about 18 percent.

The Gradebook has reached out to Sahadeo and deputy superintendent Bill Corbett for comment.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 9:59pm]


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