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Transfer of principal protested


Belvedere Elementary School parents have decided to protest at the next Board of Education meeting to try to reverse the board's decision to transfer their principal to another school.

More than 100 angry parents, who learned about the board's decision last week, gathered at the Arnold school yesterday evening to decide on a strategy to keep Louise E. DeJesu as principal.

The parents said Ms. DeJesu has been at Belvedere for four years and has made many improvements. But her work is not finished, they said.

"She has not been here long enough to make sure the programs have a strong foothold," said Kristina Mangrum, president of the school's PTA. "We just aren't ready to lose her."

More than 100 parents have signed a petition to protest the board's decision to transfer Ms. DeJesu to Hilltop Elementary School in Glen Burnie. Virginia Pope, principal of Crofton Elementary School, is to replace Ms. DeJesu July 1.

At yesterday's meeting, parents decided to attend the June 21 Board of Education meeting to express their opinion. They also decided to make daily phone calls to board members and to write letters telling them why Belvedere needs Ms. DeJesu.

During the hourlong meeting, parents said they opposed the transfer because they feared another administrator would take too long to learn about the community and the school's problems.

"It's not that we don't want someone else to come in; it's the timing," said Debra Klau, Belvedere PTA vice president. "We're in the middle of something. We just need to finish what we're doing now."

Ms. Klau said Ms. DeJesu was working with the school board to see that Belvedere, which is more than 40 years old, gets funding for renovation. She said the principal also worked with the fifth-graders to make sure their transition into Severna Park and Magothy River middle schools would not be difficult.

In addition, Ms. Mangrum said, the principal has begun several self-esteem programs in the school and has allowed parents to be involved "just about anywhere they want to be."

"Belvedere has become a friendlier environment since Louise has been here," she said.

Parents were concerned about their children's reaction to the transfer.

Some said their children also have begun writing letters and gathering signatures on petitions in an effort to keep the administrator at their school.

Diane Johnson said that when one of her children learned of the principal's transfer, she "was really upset. She feels abandoned."

Although the move to a larger school is considered a promotion for Ms. DeJesu, several parents at the meeting said she has told them she would rather stay at Belvedere.

In an interview, Ms. DeJesu said the PTA is protesting the decision because "I have really nice parents. They'll be fine," without her, she said.

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