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CCPS on changes in administrators: 'You know that you’re not going to be in one place forever'

The end of the academic year meant changes in leadership at a number of schools in Carroll County, including one high school principal moving back to an assistant role.

Diane Cooper, the principal at South Carroll High School since the 2015-2016 school year, will be the assistant principal at Francis Scott Key High School as of July 1. This transfer was announced at the June Board of Education meeting.

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Christina Dougherty, assistant principal at Francis Scott Key High School, has been appointed to acting principal at South Carroll.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steven Johnson declined to comment specifically on Cooper or Dougherty’s movements, citing the confidentiality policy regarding personnel matters. Cooper did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Johnson said, generally speaking, a person could go from a higher position to a lower position because of a request or because of some sort of issue. Sometimes, he added, an administrator feels the job they’re in isn’t a good fit and asks to be relocated.

Those two were far from the only administrative movements by the school system. Thirteen other principals or assistant principals have been reassigned since April. In addition to South Carroll, nine other schools will have new principals, including two high schools: Eric King moves to Manchester Valley from Winters Mill and Michael Brown comes to Winters Mill from Baltimore.

Johnson also said in general, when a person is made the acting administrator, it’s because “we need to fill a position posthaste.”

“Something happens, there’s a vacancy that needs to be filled immediately and we don’t have the luxury of time to wait a month or two,” he said.

The acting administrator position has to be approved by the school board but it is not permanent, he said. That person will eventually have to go through an interview committee to be appointed to a permanent position, he added.

The administrator will remain in the acting position for a period of time, and then one of three things will happen, Johnson said. The interview committee will either open up interviews to interview other candidates not including the acting administrator, the committee can open interviews to interview other candidates including the acting administrator or the committee can make a recommendation to the superintendent that the acting administrator become permanent.

From there, the superintendent has follow-up interviews after the committee’s recommendation.

“He makes a decision to send a name to the Board of Education,” Johnson said.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that a principal at a high school changed roles and went to a lower-level administrative position. At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Jeffrey Hopkins, who was the principal at Westminster High School, moved to the role of assistant principal at Oklahoma Road Middle School.

It is unclear if Hopkins requested a move or was moved by CCPS.

The moving of administrators from school to school is not an unusual practice in CCPS.

“Each school is different and you have the opportunity to work with different leaders,” Johnson said.

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For example, Johnson said, working in a school that is a Title I school or working in a school with a special education program will be different than schools that are not Title I or are not home to regional programs.

“It is very important that we prepare our leaders to be leaders of any building,” he said. “It’s not moving just to move for the fun of moving.”

Each move of an administrator is strategic to give the leader a different experience for his or her own professional growth, he said. These decisions are typically done in consultation with the school level director, the superintendent and himself, Johnson said.

“But the ultimate decision is the superintendent’s. The superintendent decides who goes where as far as administrative placements,” he added.

Typically, he said, everything has already been worked out once the final decision is made, so the administrator is on board, though sometimes that’s not always the case, he said. In the end, “at the administrative level, we all work at the pleasure of the superintendent.”

“We want things to be voluntary, but sometimes they’re involuntary. But you know that when you sign up to be an administrator,” Johnson said.

An administrator takes the job knowing they can go anywhere in the system at any time, he said.

“You know that you’re not going to be in one place forever,” Johnson added.

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