University Prep names finalists to replace Shannon as principal
The Times reported in October that University Preparatory Academy, the new charter school in Midtown St. Petersburg, had failed to enact several key provisions of its charter.
Of note, University Prep did not have a local advisory board, which was supposed to help choose the school's principal. Cheri Shannon, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit behind University Prep, instead became the principal. Meanwhile, dozens of children were withdrawing from the school and returning to struggling Pinellas neighborhood schools.
Now, University Prep has organized its local board. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers school vouchers, is serving as chairman (he's also the guy behind bringing Shannon to Pinellas and, specifically, the former site of Southside Fundamental Middle).
Tuthill said the local board has met for seven hours over the past two weeks, interviewing 13 candidates by phone for the principal position.
The three finalists, who have had face-to-face interviews, are Nehemiah Thomas, the current assistant principal of University Prep; Darius Adamson, a school transformation coach from North Carolina's education department whoco-founded a nonprofit assisting schools; and Steven Palmer, a veteran educator and charter school director from Michigan.
The idea is to replace Shannon by next semester, so Tuthill hopes to have a recommendation by mid-December. The local board is currently conducting background and reference checks.
University Prep received 49 applications for the principal job, Tuthill said.
As for who's serving on the local board? See the list below. Members are designated voting or ex-officio. Craig Sher, the only Pinellas representative on University's Prep's birds-eye governing board, will serve as the liason between the local board and the governing board.
Dr. Arnett Smith
Non-voting ex-officio members: