On the long list of principals being transferred in Pinellas this summer, one name stands out.
Antelia Campbell, 38, was made principal at Gibbs High in 2006. But after three rocky years — and a pile of complaints from teachers — the district installed her as principal at Largo Middle.
Now, after only a year there — and more complaints, this time from parents — the district is transferring Campbell again. She will be an assistant principal at Dunedin High.
"When as a district do we say this person isn't cut out for a leadership position?" said School Board member Robin Wikle, whose district includes Dunedin High. "Because who pays the price? The employees and the students."
Campbell did not respond to requests for comment. But superintendent Julie Janssen said Campbell showed talent as an assistant principal and may have been promoted too quickly in the past.
"I think she'll blossom at Dunedin," Janssen said.
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Campbell was once considered a rising star.
After four years as a teacher, she became an assistant principal, working at Largo High, then Tarpon Springs High, then Oak Grove Middle. District officials said Campbell requested the last transfer, which resulted in a $3,700 pay cut, because she wanted the experience in case a principal's position opened at a middle school. Her evaluations were good.
Then, in 2006, former superintendent Clayton Wilcox tapped Campbell for one of the toughest gigs in the district, the top job at Gibbs.
It did not go well.
Gibbs was plagued by vandalism. Teachers said they were scared. The school grade dropped from D to F.
Campbell's supporters said she wasn't given the resources necessary to handle a rising tide of at-risk kids, brought in by the district's return to zoned schools. But teachers accused Campbell of being a poor leader, and her last evaluation said she needed to improve in key areas, including promoting a safe school environment.
Her tenure at Largo Middle was not smooth either.
FCAT scores dropped. Suspension rates went up. Complaints mounted.
"In just 6 months, a formerly great school is now the dangerous wild west," a parent told Janssen and the School Board on March 8, according to e-mails obtained by the St. Petersburg Times through a records request. "Don't blame the kids, it's the leader."
"It amazes many that the school board would have the audacity to place such a proven failure in our schools and with our kids," said another e-mail June 4. "I have every confidence that LMS will be your next John Hopkins if you do not replace this administration."
The district blacked out the names of parents to protect student confidentiality.
Leslie Pohley, who chairs the science department at Largo Middle, raised another concern: stability.
"HOW can they move someone after only one year at a new job?????????" she asked in a June 14 e-mail to board member Linda Lerner. "I don't get it. Does the word consistency come into play?'
Campbell earned $80,902 at Gibbs and $74,907 at Largo Middle. A district spokeswoman said it's not clear yet how much she will make at Dunedin High.
The PTA presidents at Largo Middle and Dunedin High did not return calls for comment. Neither did Dunedin High principal Paul Summa.
School Board chairwoman Janet Clark said she expects Campbell will do well at Dunedin, and thinks with more experience she can become a successful principal. Clark also said it's often unfair to blame a principal alone for a school's problems.
"People are saying, 'Why do we have to put up with these failing principals?' That kind of aggravates me," Clark said. Campbell "may very well do an excellent job at a school that doesn't have the problems Gibbs had."
Wikle, her fellow board member, took a harder line. She said the district should have put Campbell, who has a doctoral degree in educational leadership, back in the classroom as a teacher.
"If I have a service manager who's not managing my Starbucks right at the Tarpon store," she said, "I'm not going to send him to the St. Petersburg store."
Times staff writer Rebecca Catalanello and Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Ron Matus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8873.