Saturday, September 22, 2018
Education

Pinellas chooses new principal for Campbell Park Elementary following racially tinged email

LARGO — Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor, has been tapped to lead Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg following the investigation of former principal Christine Hoffman for issuing a racially insensitive directive to the school staff.

The Pinellas County School Board is expected to vote on Young-Parker's transfer at next week's regular School Board meeting. The change would be effective June 1 for the 2017-18 school year.

Young-Parker, 45, spent two years as the district's director of elementary education before she was appointed principal of Cypress Woods in 2013. She previously worked at Campbell Park as an assistant principal long before the school was under a turnaround process, although her exact dates of employment there could not be immediately confirmed. She has also served as principal of Lakewood and Highland Lakes elementary schools.

Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego said Young-Parker was a "great choice" to lead Campbell Park.

"First of all, she has a real passion to do this kind of work," he said. "She truly is an accomplished principal. She fit the bill for Campbell Park. She's from that community and lives within that community."

Grego said Young-Parker worked to have all of her teachers at Cypress Woods receive a gifted teaching endorsement. The school, he said, has "record numbers" of students earning a top score of five on the Florida Standards Assessments in English language arts and math.

"She's truly a mover in the educational realm," he said.

Campbell Park is a predominantly black school, and Young-Parker is black. But Grego said race was not a factor in the appointment.

He said her presence would "bring some stability" to the school.

School Board member Terry Krassner, a retired Pinellas principal, said she knew Young-Parker to be a leader among principals for best practices and staying on top of research.

"She's as genuine as they come," she said. "I've always held her in high esteem."

School Board member Carol Cook said she plans to vote in favor of Young-Parker's appointment.

"Everything that I have seen of her has been very professional, very child-oriented, and I think it will be a good move," she said.

District spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said Hoffman is still under investigation for writing to Campbell Park staffers in an April 18 email that "white students should be in the same class" as the school created classroom rosters for the next school year.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits schools from segregating students "on the basis of race, color, or national origin in making classroom assignments."

Hoffman has since transferred to district headquarters pending the outcome of the investigation. Grego said Tuesday that he instructed District Attorney Laurie Dart to seek a third-party investigator to review the case.

"I want another set of eyes on this," he said.

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

 
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