Despite protests, principal's transfer goes through


Although they knew the battle was lost, parents at Belvedere Elementary School showed up at a school board meeting last night to protest the transfer of their principal.

About 50 parents and children gathered in a last-ditch effort to keep Principal Louise E. DeJesu at Belvedere. She will be transferred to Hilltop Elementary School in Glen Burnie, effective July 1.

The protesters brought a petition with 274 signatures, but it wasn't enough to get the board to rescind the transfer.

PTA President Kristina Mangrum said she learned Tuesday when she met with two board members that the transfer would go through.

"They're not going to do anything," Ms. Mangrum said. "We were told . . . the decision has already been approved. It's a done deal."

Parents asked the school board to keep Ms. DeJesu at Belvedere because they say the school faces unique issues.

The redistricting plan that will take effect in the 1995-1996 school year sends Belvedere children into two separate feeder systems.

This will continue until after the year 2000.

Parents also were concerned that Belvedere would not get funding for renovations, which are slated for 1997, if Ms. DeJesu was not there to fight for them.

The principal has been at Belvedere for four years.

"They may have considered the district's needs, they may have considered administrative needs, they may have considered Hilltop's needs, but we're not sure they considered our unique needs," said Kathie Allred, the School Improvement Team representative at Belvedere. "Louise is the best thing that happened to our school in 20 years."

After Belvedere's parents spoke last night, county school Superintendent Carol S. Parham said that she hopes the community will be behind its new principal, Virginia Pope, who was transferred from Crofton Elementary School.

"I'm glad to see your community here because no matter who the administrator is, they will need the support of your community," Ms. Parham said.

Though Belvedere's parents lost the fight, Ms. Allred said that the experience has been positive for the community.

"This is the first time I've ever seen the community pull together," she said. "That's positive for our school."

Added Ms. Mangrum, "Louise created a Belvedere community."

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