On the hunt for a Middleton principal

Two months after Kim Moore’s promotion was announced, the engineering magnet school still awaits a leader
Harrison Peters is Chief of Schools of the Hillsborough County School District. [HCPS]
Harrison Peters is Chief of Schools of the Hillsborough County School District. [HCPS]
Published January 23
Updated January 23

TAMPA - Hillsborough County School District officials are continuing to search for a replacement for Middleton High School Principal Kim Moore, and the long search has some community members asking questions.

Chief of Schools Harrison Peters answered some of those questions in a meeting last week with the alumni association, and that group’s president gave Peters good reviews.

“He guaranteed to us when he was at the school that he wants to put the right person in place,” said Luvator Nelson, Class of 1966. “He said he is serious about seeking the right person.”

Peters told the dozen or so alums that the district might conduct a national search, and confirmed that statement to the Tampa Bay Times.

“As you know, Dr. Moore has left some sizable shoes to fill,” Peters said in an email.

“We are committed to finding the right fit for such an extraordinary school. Since all principal vacancies are posted on-line, applicants from around the country have access to this information. In addition, we are very open to leveraging our national partners to advertise in their spaces. We do want to move forward with deliberate speed but we must get this right. Keep you posted.”

Middleton, in East Tampa, is a showcase for the district because of its pre-collegiate STEM academy, which serves many but not all of the school’s 1,600 students.

Following rough years leading up to 2009, when the state considered closing the D-rated school for poor performance, Middleton improved under the leadership of Owen Young, who is now an area superintendent; and Moore, who took over in 2014.

The district promoted Moore on Dec. 4 to Director of Administration, replacing the retiring Tanly Cabrera and modifying that position so that Moore will work more closely with Peters.

But the agreement was that Moore would not move - at least not entirely - until after they replaced her. Now it has been two months and not only is there a vacancy listed for Moore; but also for an assistant principal for student affairs.

The school now has a B. Like other high schools in the district, its graduation rate has improved.

When asked if she would like to see anything else improve at Middleton, Nelson said the school would benefit from more stability in its workforce. “We’re very pleased with the staff,” she said. The schools instructors are making a difference in students lives, she said, and “we are hoping those people can stay.”