52 DPS schools to get new principals this fall

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542
Kisha Verdusco at 313-873-8401

Fifty-two Detroit Public Schools will have new principals at the helm when the new school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

The district saw 39 principals retire at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, prompting most of the changes. Sixteen principals were reassigned because their schools are being overhauled under the School Improvement Grant program, which provides federal funds to make over low-performing schools. Ninety principals will remain in the same assignments for the coming school year.

“We have assembled a solid leadership team,” said DPS Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “We’re confident they will excel at leading our schools through the demanding times ahead, as we implement a more challenging curriculum and offer more programs than ever.”

The district will have 13 new hires who were either assistant principals inside DPS or principals from outside the district.

Among the new faces is Lisa Phillips, who will helm Cass Technical High School. A DPS teacher and principal for more than 20 years, Phillips is returning to the district from Oak Park High School, where she has been principal for the last four years. A Mumford grad, she is a past principal of Pershing High and Detroit High School for Technology. She was a longtime teacher at Cass, where she was named Teacher of the Year by WDIV in 1998.

Among the other new hires will be Jared Davis, who will lead Finney at McNair, Melissa Villareal at Roberto Clemente Academy, Felicia Cook at Osborn Evergreen, Charlene Mallory at Cody College Preparatory Upper School of Teaching and Learning, Mary Kovari at Cody Detroit Institute of Technology and Michelle Parker at Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody. The district is awaiting confirmation on the other five new principals.

The new assignments leave seven vacancies, which the district is moving swiftly to fill in the coming weeks.

All principals will be hired or renewed this year under a performance-based contract that will hold them accountable for student enrollment, attendance, achievement in each content area tested by the Michigan Department of Education and other areas. Principals will be expected to lead a reduction in the number of suspensions and dropouts in their buildings.
The principal contract is tied to the expectations of the Detroit Public Schools Academic Plan, which will raise the level of academic rigor throughout the district starting this fall.

On Thursday, DPS will announce details of Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, a teacher-led school on the campus of the former Barbara Jordan Elementary/Middle.

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