The principal shuffle

Around this time every year, school district leaders play musical chairs with principals and move them around from campus to campus.

Sometimes the switches are done to staff new schools or replace a principal who has retired, been promoted or demoted or left the district for another system.

Most times, however, it seems as if principals are just moved around.

You may see a principal who successfully improved test scores at one school assigned to another campus where students struggle. Or a principal is moved from an elementary to middle school to gain experience with older students.

How disruptive is the principal shuffle?

How much say should teachers, parents and others in the community have in who becomes the school principal?

38 comments Add your comment


May 29th, 2009
9:33 am

We see the same thing in the business world. Managers are shuffled from job to job. The good ones are “getting their ticket punched” and they [the powers that be] are trying to find a place where the bad ones do the least amount of damage.

My wife, who is a teacher, has had four principals in the past 11-12 years. Of those, only one was worth a crap.


May 29th, 2009
9:39 am

>>Most times, however, it seems as if principals are just moved around.<<

I’m not sure I agree with this assertion. You may get different opinions based on who you speak with but I believe the principal is the one that sets the ‘tone’ for the school. They have a tough balancing act to ensure that the instructional needs of the students are met, overseeing a safe and healthy learning environment, being supporting of teachers and staff, and collaboratively working with parents and the immediate community. Find one that can do these things among others and you have a good one. A good principal is worth their weight in gold.

That said, when you find a principal that has been successful, both as a leader and in mentoring assistant principals into becoming successful principals, larger school districts tend to move then to schools that may have had ‘leadership challenges’. By the same token, some schools may have ‘nice people’ that are not cut out to be principals. School districts may want to give them another chance in a different environment or reassign them accordingly.

I see principals similar to some pastors, you move them after 4-6 years unless something else forces the school district to move them sooner. I also understand that teachers, parents and others in the community DO have say so in the selection of a principal via the school council. In fairness, the stronger the school council, the more likely there will be community involvement in the selection process.

We ask superintendents to manage the day to day operations of a school system. We rely to them to use sound judgment with respect to principal assignments. Dr. Lewis in DCSS recently announced there would be many principal changes because he is being measured based on the instructional success of each school. As a result, he felt he needed to make many changes to ensure he had strong leaders at each school. This meant moving some principals that had demonstrated outstanding leadership skills to schools that have been struggling. The sending schools may not like this but he must take a global perspective in determining what is best for the district. Time will tell if this will work.

Gwinnett Educator

May 29th, 2009
10:39 am

wish someone would shuffle ours.


May 29th, 2009
10:59 am

…and I wish AJC would fix this blog from eating posts….

Per my earlier, non-posted post…

It’s not just the schools, businesses have been shuffling managers around for years. Sometimes, if a manager is “one of the chosen few,” they move them from job to job to “get their ticket punched.” Then, one day, they wind up in a vice-presidents position and the company is bragging about “their wide range of experience. [Sorta like teaching for exposure instead of mastery, eh Catlady]

Then there are the numbskulls that keep screwing everything up. They seem to move them around untile they find the place where they can do the least amount of damage.

Speaking of principals, interesting story in today’s AJC.

And y’all educators wonder why the public’s confidence in schools is so low…

Classroom Teacher

May 29th, 2009
11:09 am

“And y’all educators wonder why the public’s confidence in schools is so low…”

Good homeschool then. I’m getting tired of trying to teach your brat.

HS Teacher, Too

May 29th, 2009
11:27 am

Lee, are you pointing out the article to say that the “high fiver” was wrong, or the “suit-bringer” is in the wrong?


May 29th, 2009
11:38 am

CT, don’t worry, you wont have to teach my child. She’s in a very good private school and doing very well, thankyouverymuch.

HS, sometimes, you wonder who is the adult and who is the six year old. Here, you have a superintendent running around giving ‘high fives’ because of test scores and then you have a recently demoted central office hack who is now a principal filing suit because the superintendent ‘patted her on the head when she wouldn’t high five.’

I’d fire ‘em both.


May 29th, 2009
1:03 pm

Superintendent Crawford Lewis’ management of principals as plug-and-play objects does nothing to develop a high-quality system of principalship for DeKalb County Public Schools. Like too many other superintendents, his is a testament to reactive, reductive, non-leadership ethics.

Benny Wee of DeKalb County

May 29th, 2009
4:51 pm

Hey Sam, haven’t you figured out that Crawford Lewis is a joke. He’s just switching around principals in hopes of fooling the public like something significant is happening. The significant thing for the children of DeKalb County would be for the school board to get rid of Crawford Lewis. Our children are suffering for his lack of fortitude and lack of leadership. Crawford Lewis is a clown.

[...] Get Schooled | – [...]


May 29th, 2009
6:45 pm

As one teacher to another, you need to find a different profession.


May 29th, 2009
7:41 pm

What is a travesty is seeing excellent, devoted, successful teachers moved to positions they are not experienced in or qualified for in order to accomodate football coaches!


May 29th, 2009
8:39 pm

And believe me, if your school has a team that works well, it will be broken up before the next year. It isn’t just the principals that get moved around.


May 29th, 2009
9:32 pm

I’m a product of Dekalb county schools and have a daughter that attends one of Dekalb’s school. Crawford is a joke and the school system is going to h*ll in a hand basket.

Benny Wee of DeKalb County

May 29th, 2009
11:49 pm

Hey Gun Man, little scared to blog against Crawford, eh? Ain’t got the kuhunas! OCD.

Leroy Jenkins, V

May 29th, 2009
11:50 pm

Sorry, Chan. You are the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leonard of Tucker

May 29th, 2009
11:54 pm

If the school board in DeKalb County does not get rid of Crawford Lewin, then we will get rid of the school board members. For information about that Crawford Lewis, go to this website…

MACE says it

May 30th, 2009
12:23 am

Why is it the other professional organizations, Kathy Cox, the legislature, Sonny Perdue and the like are too afraid to talk about the issues that MACE so willingly talks about, issues that, if addressed, would be of enormous benefit to the students of Georgia?

You can say what you want about their style, but in their substance no one speaks more honestly and forthrightly about the issues that derail education in Georgia today.

Joy in Teaching

May 30th, 2009
7:07 am

My current principal actively seeks to improve the learning environment at my school. She gets along well with both students and parents.

Unfortunately, she also talks out of both sides of her mouth and will throw a teacher under the bus at the drop of a hat.

She is one of those who will believe any and every person in the building EXCEPT the teacher. We have students who have been convicted of all sorts of things, who have been suspended repeatedly, and who have a proven history of being lying liars who actively TRY to get teachers into trouble by making outrageous accusations against them. So what does my principal do? It’s demoralizing and we are just counting the days until she (hopefully) gets promoted to the county office. At least she won’t be able to do so much damage there.

Luther in Tucker

May 30th, 2009
11:03 am

Enter your comments here


May 30th, 2009
11:05 am

Ahhhhhhh…….the Central Office- where all bad principals go to die!!

Luther in Tucker

May 30th, 2009
11:08 am


Luther in Tucker

May 30th, 2009
11:12 am


Classroom Teacher

May 30th, 2009
11:51 am

Go patronize someone else!

advocate who cares

May 30th, 2009
12:38 pm

I see no one is talking about the $10,000.00 bonuses these principal are receiving for being moved. We should be outraged because the rank in file bus driver, cafeteria workers and teachers didn’t receive a pay increase this year not scheduled to get one next year and only receive a half of step increase last year. Lewis needs to go…


May 30th, 2009
3:38 pm

Ernest, you have a point about moving principals every 5 years or so. Lakeside should be so lucky to have one continuous leader for so long. Now that Lithonia “hand-picked” our principal, stealing her away after just 2 years with us, we are about to find out who our 4th principal in 6 years will be.

Luckily, even though good leadership is vital to a school, Lakeside and other high-performing schools have the pleasure of serving a community of bright students who have very supportive homes and mostly educated, involved parents. There’s not much a principal can do to create an involved parent community, which is just as vital to a school’s success.


May 30th, 2009
3:45 pm

Plus, this quote from the AJC is just laughable if you’re familiar with these schools,
>>Lewis last year asked one of the county’s top principals to take a job at a lower-performing campus.

Then-Vanderlyn Elementary School principal Charlene Burger was snapped up by Oak Grove Elementary — one of eight schools that needed a new principal for the just-finished year.

Lewis reassigned eight principals to other jobs two years ago, although at least one declined and left the system.<<

Oak Grove is now a lower-performing school! I wonder what the parents thought of that new label. And the “principal who declined and left the system” was certainly none other than Mr. Chelf, former principal at Lakeside who was fired twice and played like a puppet by Lewis and his administration, causing deep division in our community.

Philip of Brookhaven

May 30th, 2009
5:28 pm

Hey guys, anyone can see that Crawford Lewis has long since played out his welcome. And who is this Josey Alexander and Associates law firm that he brought in? Miss Josey doesn’t look like she knows what she is doing, but I think that her firm is doing some Big Boy Billing. Just another example of Crawford’s ineptness. What was wrong with the Weekes & Candler Law Firm that had represented the DeKalb County School System for about 35 to 40 years? Oh, nothing wrong with the firm’s legal prowess. The firm is just the wrong color.

Edward XV

May 30th, 2009
5:33 pm

Philip, You might like this blog that I found. http://www.TheGeorgiaCitizen.WordPress.Com. I hope that it starts talking about every bit of the corruption in the DeKalb School System. It looks like a blog for “Free Birds.” Not as squeamish as you know who. It looks to be wide open, baby! Hey, Gun, you’ll enjoy it too!


May 30th, 2009
7:35 pm

Dr. Lewis is corrupt and it is time the principals start to speak up rather than fear for their jobs. There are principals who are demoted without cause and if you are not African American or if you are not in his inner circle, you get no support. White principals in DeKalb, be careful or you will lose your token status. Reverse discrimination is real in DeKalb, just ask Principal Chelf and many other white educators in DCSS. Also, there was a recent report on the news saying that principals all recieved a report card and a grade of A, B, C or D. Just ask any principal, there was no communication about a report card. Another example of the lies that Dr. Lewis tells. I agree with the comment about getting rid of the board. Many of them are in collaboration with Dr. Lewis, such as one of the ladies having her own hit list of principals, and getting support from Lewis. The county is well on its way to being like Clayton County without accrediation.


May 30th, 2009
7:41 pm

Worse, what about newly elected Board member Gene Walker, who won the election with the help of $18,000 in campaign contributions from the Sembler Co.? Walker also sits on the DeKalb Development Authority and gets to decide whether or not to give Sembler a $52 million tax abatement for his Buckhead development. What’s up with that?

Edward XV

May 30th, 2009
7:43 pm

I have always known that DeKalb County Schools under the unleadership of Crawford Lewis and the the Atlanta Public Schools under the terrible leadership of Beverly Hall are much worse off than Clayton County has even been, but Wannable Emperor Mark Elgart of the Money-making SACS machine just has never had a mean on for them. He began his great hatred for Clayton County when his buddy, Dan Colwell, Clayton’s last white superintendent, was fired. He should have been fired, but, now you have the same reversed discrimination in Clayton County just as you have in DeKalb. If you are the wrong color (white), there’s hardly any hope for you to get an administrative job…much less to advance up the career ladder. My observation is that black folk are just as prejudiced when they gain power as were the white folk when they had the power. It is a matter of power and control.

Where is the AJC?

May 31st, 2009
3:03 am

With as much easily verifiable information about the corruption in Dekalb County schools that floating out there in places such as this blog, why doesn’t the AJC report on this?

These are the same people who call themselves watchdogs?

Guess why there are untold numbers of readers who call themselves former subscribers.


May 31st, 2009
8:03 am

As marketing gurus like Seth Godin would say, the AJC just is not “remarkable” anymore. It just isn’t doing those things which make people want to “remark” about it. I guess it is just trying to make it on its past laurels. Fourth Estate? I don’t know about this. This takes too much work, and then, and only then, would the AJC become “remarkable” again. But, it can always get the editorial board to engage in wholly inaccurate ad homimen attacks John Trotter. That’s right. Blame him for every conceivable ill afflicting Clayton County. This is a very convenient way to engage in Yellow Journalism. John Trotter does not have a glass jaw.


May 31st, 2009
10:52 pm

Dekalb has plenty of problems, but getting John Trotter involved won’t help. We need professional educators who care about students and their parents to take on this nightmare.

I think Dekalb’s problem isn’t reverse racism, it is that it’s too top heavy and overly centralized. Plus, the Board is too big. Gwinnett gets by with only five members and is much bigger, while Dekalb has nine. Consensus is almost impossible. The board members are way too parochial and turfish, and don’t think globally. Honestly, just let the state take the system over and be done with it.


June 2nd, 2009
1:58 pm

I found this website. It is great for teachers!


June 3rd, 2009
3:24 pm

I’m a recent DeKalb County Schools graduate, and I have to say, when Crawford Lewis came to speak at my school earlier this year he was both uninspiring and rude–he said the school lacked “senior leaders” when we refused to come summarize what we had learned after missing several hours of class to listen to him speak.

His tendency to promote people who should be fired to county-level positions is a recurring joke and source of annoyance for those who teach or learn in DeKalb county schools. Moving people around solves some things, perhaps, but hiring competent leaders to begin with solves more.


June 6th, 2009
7:59 am

Dekalb County is pitiful. It’s deeper than reverse discrimination. If you aren’t connected to the powers that be you can’t get in no matter what color you are. The discrimination comes into play if you use your brain for something other than a hat rack. Dekalb County wants non thinkers and doers to be apart of their team and that’s why within 10 years we’ll look like Clayton County.. Teachers, parents, students and administrators that want to make a difference have to keep trying or the entire county will suffer.