School rejects system's principal pick

The Baltimore Sun

A day after their principal was removed under mysterious circumstances and replaced by a school system administrator, board members of an Anne Arundel County charter school did some ousting of their own.

The board of Chesapeake Science Point Charter School removed the school system's choice, Joan Valentine, yesterday and chose Judith Henry, a retired Prince George's County principal who had spent a year at the school, as her temporary replacement.

Valentine, a veteran educator who garnered accolades for turning around a once-embattled high school at Fort Meade, also received her share of bad press for her sometimes stern, brusque manner, and board vice president Spear Lancaster said she might not be right for the school during this tumultuous time.

Of Henry, Lancaster said, "The teachers know her; the students know her. We just thought having a familiar face in the school will help lower the disruption in the environment here."

Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the system has approved the board's move.

System officials temporarily pulled Fatih Kandil from his post as head of the Hanover charter school Monday and moved him to a central office desk job while the county's Division of Child Protective Services investigates a complaint that the school system learned about on Dec. 21.

The school system has refused to disclose the nature of the complaint, but Mosier confirmed that the county Department of Social Services - not the school system - is handling the investigation.

Marci Kennai, director of the Department of Social Services, said she could not confirm or deny whether it is investigating Kandil.

Lancaster has said that he can only guess that Kandil is being investigated for reports that he made students do push-ups after they misbehaved in class.

School officials said they do not know how long the Child Protective Services investigation will take, but Kennai said state regulations require the department to complete its inquiry within 60 days. If charges are substantiated, they are forwarded to the state's attorney general's office, which decides whether to prosecute, she said.

The principal's removal is the latest controversy for the charter school, which has 218 students from grades six through nine and 400 applications pending. Since it opened in 2005, school system audits have been critical of weak finances and student record-keeping, both of which have improved in recent months.

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