Plagued with low staff morale, Pasco Middle School on Friday got a new principal charged with improving the climate of the Dade City campus.
Danielle "Dee Dee" Johnson, principal of Wesley Chapel High since early 2017, was appointed to lead Pasco Middle effective immediately. She replaces Jeff Wolff, who had been the school's principal since 2015.
Wolff will become an assistant principal at Zephyrhills High School.
The move came just days after Kurt Browning held a staff meeting at Pasco Middle to hear staff and faculty concerns.
"After that, he made a decision that it was in the best interest of the school to have new leadership," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. "The school is needing strong leadership."
Questions about Wolff's leadership emerged during debate for the School Board District 1 seat, when candidate Kenny Mathis blasted the principal for creating a toxic environment. Mathis, who lost the primary election, said he was among several educators targeted by the administration for speaking out.
Browning said Mathis faced termination until he resigned because of his own decisions. But he did not dismiss the problems that were highlighted during the discussion, and followed up this week.
Members of Browning's leadership team recommended Johnson as the best replacement for Pasco Middle.
The district plans to advertise for a new Wesley Chapel High principal.
"We will look for a highly qualified, exceptional leader to carry on what Dee Dee has started at that school," Cobbe said.
She mentioned an example of having students list a friend on their emergency cards, so if the students have troubles at school the staff knows at least one teen they can ask to help out.