Are mid-year principal retirements routine?

Are mid-year retirements by principals a routine occurrence?

According to the AJC, four Atlanta school principals have retired from the city school system. I wonder if the principals were worn down by the ongoing CRCT cheating probe on top of the normal pressures on them.

I was with several teachers this weekend and all of them agreed that they would never take a principal’s post, citing all the pressures from the district and from parents.

The AJC story on the APS retirements states:

Two of the four principals — Gideons Elementary School’s Armstead Salters and Venetian Hills Elementary School’s Clarietta Davis — were reassigned to other jobs in August after a local investigating panel said wholesale changes were needed at their schools and 10 others. Salters, who was named Principal of the Year in 2008 by the National Alliance of Black School Educators, retired as of Nov. 30.

Reached at home Tuesday night, Salters, who turned 71 on Dec. 10, said he had been considering retirement for a number of years. He was principal of Gideons for 31 years.

“I thought I was needed in that community,” he told the AJC. “That’s why I stayed there so long. Technically, I could have retired a long time ago. My interest was in the children. I love children, and I wanted to be there with them. That’s why I stayed so long.”

He said the continuing investigation into test cheating “has nothing to do with my retirement. As a matter of fact, I stayed a little bit longer than I was supposed to, because I didn’t want that cloud over me.”

Davis’ last day also was Nov. 30.

The state early this year flagged 88 percent of Gideons Elementary’s classrooms for unusual erasures on student test answer sheets.

The Atlanta panel also reported several “qualified allegations” at Venetian Hills, including a student saying his teacher pointed to specific lines on his test sheet and whispered that he should erase his answers; a taped conversation during which students said their homework matched questions on the actual tests or that a teacher told them correct answers during testing; and a teacher who said some staff members returned to campus after hours to correct students’ answers.

Former Whitefoord Elementary School Principal Patricia Lavant’s last day was Friday, the same day city schools closed for winter break. Whitefoord was one of 58 city elementary and middle schools under investigation. That list also includes East Lake Elementary School, where the official last day of Principal Gwendolyn Benton will be Dec. 31, according to the system’s December personnel “gains and losses” report.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

89 comments Add your comment


December 21st, 2010
11:35 pm

Too obvious.

APS Teacher

December 21st, 2010
11:43 pm

Tthese principals may not of had anything to do with the cheating, but someone under their watch did. For the longest, teachers were pressured to make system targets (many which were unreasonable). If a teacher did not make these targets, they were basically considered low performing. No school, principal or teacher wants to be considered a failure so as a result we have a huge cheating scandal.


December 21st, 2010
11:45 pm

More need to do so!

Ros Dalton

December 21st, 2010
11:46 pm

Silly question. Smoke -> fire. These are the first of the ones who aren’t well connected enough to survive the coming purge, or are already so old that there’s no vim left to fight this battle for their jobs.

Maureen Downey

December 21st, 2010
11:47 pm

@Tony, But in January? It seems odd to me to leave at the midpoint of the year. Or does this happen a lot?

Atlanta Teacher

December 22nd, 2010
12:08 am

There are a few more principals in APS that need to retire, resign or just be fired. Many are rude, act like dictators, lack competence and got their position because of who they know. The executive directors act as if they do not know what is going on in these schools. APS would not be in this predicament if teachers would be allowed to just teach without all the pressure and other unnecessary foolishness (quality work boards, decorations, projects, etc.). Further, the model teacher leaders, instructional coaches need to stop trying to act like pseudo administrators. I have been in APS for 17 years and have yet to see the need for all of these positions. The majority of them do nothing for student achievement, and try to justify their position by coming up with some ridiculous inservice.

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December 22nd, 2010
12:21 am

Maureen – it is not that common that people retire mid-year for several reasons. Some of the reasons are based on the disruption created at the school by the change. Another is related to how retirement benefits are calculated. For me, I started mid-year and will likely retire mid-year when my time comes.

There are actually a few good reasons for a principal to retire in January. The retirement allows for a replacement to get a handle on the operations of the school while it is in session rather than during summer break. Summer break is actually the worst time for a change.

Another good reason for mid-year retirement relates to the domino effect of personnel changes. New principals are appointed from APs or are moved from other schools. As the clock winds down for school to start, summer changes are often taking place right up until school starts. Not a good option, either.

No, mid-year retirements are not that common, but they should be.


December 22nd, 2010
12:31 am

I heard a while back that they would be retiring at the break. What kind of ACTIVE administrator would do tis to their student body? Those who had been removed…I get that…but those who are currently in schools? Did they even tell the kids before the break? Or will a new leader simply greet parents, teachers, students and others in January.

Sad and sorry…this entire fiasco is so much deeper than what we’re seeing on the surface. I wonder if the truth will ever really come out.


December 22nd, 2010
12:32 am

@ Atlanta Teacher – Amen! I’m sick of moron “coaches” with their Phoenix degrees acting like they are my mother and are going to spank me if I don’t behave. Maybe we’ll get lucky and all 58 of them will retire and take Beverly with them.


December 22nd, 2010
1:00 am

Does this mean the GBI etc is off their butts now?


December 22nd, 2010
1:22 am

Nope, UhOh, you can still go to the pokie if you’re a retired criminal.


December 22nd, 2010
1:33 am

Also Maureen, the principal at Sylvan Hills retired at the end of the year last year.


December 22nd, 2010
6:24 am

I’ve observed this although somewhat infrequently in DeKalb. I’ll expand this to administrators (including APs and counselors) and that the move could be done ANYTIME during the school year.

Given the choice, I could probably tolerate mid year retirements more as it could suggest a plan may have been in place. I’ve known of a few where it occurred somewhat unexpectedly during the school year and it caused a lost of focus for a short period.

I recall one case where an AP retired about 30 days into the school year. Their reason was simply, “my obligation is to myself and I’ve served my time.” I could tell the principal was upset when it happened as I don’t think they knew it could happen.

Another APS Teacher

December 22nd, 2010
6:46 am

@APS Teacher… You made me laugh out loud. Everything you said was so true. APS has wasted so much money on sorry academic coaches, academy leaders, etc when they should have gotten a leader who could improve on what they had. These really academically challenged people from Alabama, New York and North Carolina with their on-line advanced degrees should be kicked out immediately. (Other states may be involved but downtown cronies favor these states for some reason. APS trained teachers are not in favor of course. We graduated from the traditional system that worked. We had a school culture that nurtured our kids and they thrived. The northerners came down and tried to make us into their own image of dysfunctional when they were clueless. They fired half the principals, harassed teachers, brought in Teacher for America, transferred older, decent teachers who were I’ll equipped to start over in other places and then wondered why their empire built on falsehoods was collapsing.

Good riddance!

Another APS Teacher

December 22nd, 2010
6:48 am

…ill equipped (computer error)


December 22nd, 2010
7:05 am

Being a leader in any Georgia school has got to be a stressful experience, and even more so the closer you move towards Atlanta. It is unfortunate that things have turned out as they have, however, I believe that a great deal of what is occurring is because there are too many school leaders in schools who lack experience as SUCCESSFUL classroom teachers. I have encountered some of the most unprofessional leaders since being in Georgia. Is there any wonder that the schools are in the shape they are in? While mid-year retirements happen, four principals who are under investigation and retire at the same time seems to suggest they are washing their hands of the school district and the investigation as well. They simply cannot handle the public scrutiny and cloud of the scandal hanging over their schools. How can they exist in their schools and effectively lead their staffs in the storm of a cheating investigation? While I am not sympathetic to those who cheated, it is evident that they and other leaders under investigation will need to leave in order for the district to rebuild itself. So much is broken in this district, including the spirits of the teachers. I have never come across such downtrodden people who have shared with me the abuses that have happened under many of these administrators. At what point does the PSC create clear guidelines that will protect teachers from excessive abuses at the hands of poor, ineffective, and insecure leaders? Until teachers can speak about these issues, without fear of reprisal, we run the risk of repeating similar abuses (mismangement of funds, cheating, etc.) in the future.


December 22nd, 2010
7:16 am

I know 2 teacher leaders who were “promoted” out of the classroom to be leaders because they had no classroom control. Tell me what you want taught, give me supplies, close my door, and leave me to TEACH. Please!

MS Man

December 22nd, 2010
7:24 am

@Maureen – To answer your question, mid year retirements to happen based on how retirement time is calculated. There are implications with your number of sick days, your years of service, and how it calculates to make it work out for you. In addition, the 71 year old principal there probably had some considerations around Social Security to consider. I will say that I am impressed at the amount of time Salters spend at Gideons- 31 years as a principal is astounding to me. That means he was 40 when he became principal. Maybe 20 years of service as a teacher if he wasn’t a career changer? That’s 50 years of service to the Atlanta Public Schools. I am sure he has some stories to tell.


December 22nd, 2010
8:20 am

Before I offer my opinion I would prefer to have the concerned black clergy weigh in on this subject.

James Johnson

December 22nd, 2010
8:57 am

Principals and teachers routinely retire in December and at the end of the school year. Once an employee accrues 30 years of credible service under the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia, the employee is eligible to retire. While most principals and teachers retire at the end of the school year, mid-year retirements are quite common.

An American Patriot

December 22nd, 2010
9:08 am

They all saw the handwriting on the wall and are trying to escape punishment. I hope all of ‘em get subpeoned and have to testify against the evil administration that is the APS.

BTW, where is the Rev. Al Sharpton in all of this?……I would think he would be right in the thick of things trying to help BH escape the persecution. C’mon Al, don’t disappoint us…..your words have so much meaning :)


December 22nd, 2010
9:19 am

Teacher Retirement System (TRS) applies Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) twice per year – 1 1/2% on January 1 and 1 1/2% on July 1. Retiring in December qualifies a person for the January COLA and is a common month for retirement.


December 22nd, 2010
9:59 am

Answering the question: Teachers who retire in the middle of the year do so usually because they have enough service to retire, frequently because of saved sick leave. Principals, not so much. They usually feel a huge obligation to finish out the year, no matter what their retirement status, unless they are being pushed out. Just my observation.


December 22nd, 2010
10:21 am

Maureen, before you wrote this article, I saw this on the Gwinnett County site and to answer your question it is very common. I guess it only seems odd to you because it’s APS.

Come January of 2011 new school principals will lead Gwinnett County’s
Walnut Grove Elementary and Snellville Middle schools. The Gwinnett County
Board of Education approved the appointment of the two new leaders during its
regular monthly meeting in December. Stephanie Cortellino was approved as the
new principal of Walnut Grove Elementary, while Eric Thigpen will welcome the
new year leading Snellville Middle. Both vacancies are the result of retirements.

Henry County Mom

December 22nd, 2010
10:22 am

They retired to get the pension before being fired.


December 22nd, 2010
10:36 am

I was thinking the same thing as EnoughAlready being a teacher in GCPS. It is common to have a few retirements midyear. However, with everything going on in APS right now it’s seems very shady.


December 22nd, 2010
10:59 am

I don’t believe for a minute that the 71 year old principal at the APS school stayed just to help students by cheating. The man should and could have been gone a long time ago.

He stayed long past what I would consider dedication. And before anyone jumps on what is an appropriate length of dedication, I did say what I considered was more than enough.

I guess I’m just a suspicious person by nature.


December 22nd, 2010
11:18 am

Maureen – Mid year principal retirements are very unusual at APS. Most APS principals retire efffective July 1st. Check APS Board Docs for prior years retirement info. Mr. Salter is well liked at APS. I hate he got caught up in Beverly Hall’s mess. He could have retired at age 60, but chose to stay. I could but I won’t comment on the other 3 principals.

Atlanta Teacher

December 22nd, 2010
11:28 am

@Dr NO. Please tell me what the Concerned Black Clergy can do other than offer some over the top sermon that probably has nothing to do with what is going on?

Atlanta Teacher

December 22nd, 2010
11:40 am

Hopefully someone on the Board or in Dr. Hall’s office reads this. Allow teachers to confidently evaluate/offer their opinion on the principals, academic coaches, model teacher leaders, etc. I find it absolutely absurd that some of the coaches in my building make almost six figures and sit behind a computer all day. Are you for real?? YES!!! Is there such thing as virtual coaching? LOL!! Maybe! But the sad part is the principal allows this to go on and if you question their responsibilities at the end of the year you will be transferred.

Happy retirement! Enjoy it!

December 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

To piggyback on the posts about benefits…our principal retired mid-year about 7 years ago, but it was no secret she had been planning to do so. Another principal in our system retired as well. It had everything to do with benefits calculation.

For those principals giving 30+ years of service in the same school, can’t we applaud them for their dedication instead of accusing them of misdeeds. These people deserve to be recognized for the years of untarnished service they had prior to NCLB and the emphasis on testing.


December 22nd, 2010
12:33 pm


Atlanta Public Schools

Sent to all Atlanta News Media – February 5, 2004
From: Government Accountability Project

Atlanta School Teacher Alleges Discrimination, Abuse of Authority and Falsified or Misleading Documentation at Award-Winning Elementary School–Sues to be Reinstated

Today -February 5, 2004, a federal suit was served on the Atlanta Public School system and a school official alleging they retaliated against teacher John Sam, Jr. after he challenged discriminatory practices used to assign students to classes, abuse of the admissions process, financial mismanagement, and other improper practices. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the application documents sent from Warren T. Jackson Elementary School in the Northwest section of Atlanta to the U. S. Department of Education to compete for a “National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence” award were false or misleading. Jackson was one of the Atlanta schools that received National Blue Ribbon recognition in the 2000-2001 school year.

According to the complaint, Mr. Sam was harassed, humiliated and transferred to another school, after he challenged the management ethics and practices of Principal Loraine Reich. Mr. Sam was especially concerned about the practice of placing all English as a second language (ESL) students in one section of the school, regardless of grade or age, and calling it a “Family Suite.” He sites numerous instances of intimidation and threats issued by Reich to any staff who questioned her practices or authority.

“Jackson operated like a private school funded by the taxpayers,” said Sam. “If you had the right parents or your family came from the right background you could enroll at Jackson, no matter where you lived in or outside of Atlanta. If not, you didn’t stand a chance.” Mr. Sam expressed concerns about the process and data used to justify Jackson’s application for recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the federal Department of Education. He raised concerns about submissions to the Georgia State Pay for Performance program.

Further, the complaint alleges that when Mr. Sam requested that minutes from school Leadership Team Meetings be accurate or to tape record the meetings, Reich and others threatened him, humilated him in front of colleagues, and forced him to stay in closed door meetings while he was verbally abused for extended periods by Reich. “At that moment I realized I had no option but to file a grievance. When that failed to bring about an end to the corrupt practices and the retailation escalated. I felt I had to file this lawsuit so I could regain my career and inform the public of the issues plaguing Jackson Elementary and many others in Atlanta Public Schools. Teachers are petrified to speak out. All they have to do is look at what happened to me at the hands of my Principal and the APS Administration to know they need to keep their mouth shut unless they want to find a new career.”

Despite over ten years of outstanding performance at Jackson Elementary and over seventeen years in education service, Mr. Sam was suddenly placed on a performance review plan shortly after he sought to address the troubling problems he witnessed at the school. However, the plan was merely a ruse to pressure him. Mr. Sam’s supervisors never followed through on the plan. As a result of the continual humiliation and pressure placed upon him, Mr. Sam was eventually forced to resign his teaching job.

The Government Accountability Project, a leading national whistleblower organization, is supporting Mr. Sam’s effort to bring greater accountability for school administrators and better support to teachers in the classroom. “We know that teachers like John Sam throughout the country have the best information about what is happening in the public schools—information parents, legislators and taxpayers need to properly assess their school system’s performance,” said staff attorney Doug Hartnett. “This case demonstrates that theachers are powerless to challenge wrongdoing without risking devastating consequences. It isn’t just school employees that get hurt when administrators act this way. Ultimately, the children suffer.” Government Accountability Project is calling for the Atlanta Public Schools to reconsider the action taken against Mr. Sam and to fully and publicly investigate the charges in his complaint. “We expect students to be accountable for their actions. At the very least, we expect educators to model that behavior, Hartnett added.

****ALL News Media in ATLANTA refused to publish this
it was submitted several times while appealed to the next levels in Federal Court

If this was a SOUTHSIDE SCHOOL in Atlanta Public Schools …Don’t you think it would have been addressed in the media?

I think this problem is systemic from Buckhead to Bankhead Highway…

Concealing Segregation/APS/Jackson Elementary


December 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 11987,*;225 Fed. Appx. 840


No. 06-11580


225 Fed. Appx. 840; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 11987

May 22, 2007, Decided

May 22, 2007, Filed




Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. D.C. Docket No. 03-03178-CV-JOF-1.
Sam v. Reich, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8238 (N.D. Ga., Feb. 9, 2006)



COUNSEL: For John Sam, Jr., Appellant: Holly Page Cole, Stack & Associates, P.C., ATLANTA, GA.

All About Learning After School, Inc., Appellant: Holly Page Cole, Kimberly Ann Sturm, Stack & Associates, P.C., ATLANTA, GA; Martin Arthur Shelton, Schulten, Ward & Turner, ATLANTA, GA; Richard E. Condit, PEER, WASHINGTON, DC.

For Lorraine B. Reich, Atlanta Independent School System, Appellees: Dorsey E. Hopson, II, Greenberg Trauig LLP, ATLANTA, GA.

JUDGES: Before PRYOR, KRAVITCH and ALARCON, * Circuit Judges.

Honorable Arthur L. Alarcon, United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation.



After careful consideration of the record and the written and oral arguments of the parties, we conclude that the district court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims of First Amendment and Due Process violations and properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants as to the plaintiffs’ claims [*2] of breach of contract and tortious interference with contract. We affirm.



December 22nd, 2010
12:44 pm

Maureen—Any ideas as to why the AJC would not print this NEWS RELEASE in 2004.

When I spoke to officials at the AJC they stated they would wait for a response from APS.

I think this is as relevant today as it was in 2004…
Maybe if they would have started the investigation on the Northside of Atlanta…this wouldn’t be a problem today.

I am just the messenger. You evaluate and give your opinion. I think everyone is still dodging the problem.


December 22nd, 2010
12:51 pm

For those principals giving 30+ years of service in the same school, can’t we applaud them for their dedication instead of accusing them of misdeeds. These people deserve to be recognized for the years of untarnished service they had prior to NCLB and the emphasis on testing.

Great comment, Happy retirement! Enjoy it! It is sad that we look at this with suspicion instead of celebration.


December 22nd, 2010
2:23 pm

Top School, I hate to nag, but will you PLEASE stop spamming every thread with this stuff? It’s the SSDD and it’s long since become annoying.


December 22nd, 2010
2:39 pm

If you’re a 12 month employee, your last year you have to work 172 days of the fiscal year in order to have that last year added onto your retirement. The fiscal year starts in July so counting the work days forward – that would give you until late March as the earliest date of retiring with your last year. I agree that it is odd that so many principals would retire in Jan. They probably can use some sick days and cut that time off so why not get out of this mess. Usually when this happens to 12 month employees in DCSS, there has been some unpleasantness that makes retirement a good option.


December 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

Yeah, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I would not be surprised if more leave soon. I would not think they are being pushed out. Maybe the guy from Gideons, but I doubt it. I don’t know any of these people except for the EastLake lady. Mega witch there, should be Beverly Hall’s BFF. I think they are trying to leave without egg on their faces. But they can still be indicted. Just because you retired does not mean you get a get out of jail free card.

Ralph Long

December 22nd, 2010
3:07 pm

Make no mistake it is unusual for these principals to retire.  They should have been fired.  I remain infuriated that no one from the Board of Education has spoken up and declared where they stand on the issue, other than to play power games amongst themselves.

I have recently spoken with Mike Bowers and asked him to keep up the pressure.  We are in dire need of real reform in APS.  Misguided sermons from the Concerned Black Clergy will do nothing to stop my determination, or the determination of the State of Georgia, for demanding accountability for our suffering communities.  It is a shame that only three elected officials have cared enough to take a stance on this issue.  We still have yet to hear from the Mayor on this crisis.  Something tells me the Mayor would not have as much of a crime problem to address if all of our children were learning.  I ask for everyone’s help in demanding the truth for our children.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me on my cell, 770-616-2130.


December 22nd, 2010
3:11 pm

Thank you so much Mr. Long. Do you have any advice for how to go about demanding the truth? I would like to see an organized effort with taxpayers, parents, students and employees. A rally of some kind maybe?


December 22nd, 2010
3:17 pm

@ Christie S.

I think Atlanta Public Schools is the SPAM…
Are you part of the Reich Regime?

Or another “”debbie snack cake” on the Northside?


December 22nd, 2010
3:18 pm

Also while I’m thinking about it, where is MACE? And no, I don’t mean those rambling posts from Cousin Booger. I pay $40 a month to be a member of MACE. So what is MACE, AFT, AAE, etc. planning? Taking more of our money every month and hanging out at the Busy Bee?


December 22nd, 2010
3:19 pm

Ralph Long…you contacted me earlier…I returned your call.
You made an appointment to meet…No Show…What happened?


December 22nd, 2010
3:25 pm

Funny Christie S…has just appeared! Out of nowhere…amazing…I think the neighborhood will now ban together yet again…


December 22nd, 2010
3:28 pm

What would you like me to say…Yes, I think their resignations might have something to do with the MESS in APS.

I’m sorry…I thought you wanted some real substance to the issues besides what they are manipulating behind the scenes. Evaluate and give your opinion…

Isn’t that what a blog is a all about?


December 22nd, 2010
3:36 pm

@Debbie…I think you like the short version…
too much for you to read and comprehend?

Atlanta Public Schools has wasted our TAX money…Shamed all of us as ATLANTA citizens, and still has us paying for criminals on their payrolls.

I would say we need to post this mess…until someone resigns and also returns the money.

Do you have anything to offer to the table for critical analysis or discussion?

Happy retirement! Enjoy it!

December 22nd, 2010
3:41 pm

I just want to say…Happy holidays to everyone!

Reading and Comprehending

December 22nd, 2010
4:16 pm

I have read and comprehended both the press release and the court decision. First of all, anyone familiar with media relations knows that a press release is written to put the represented party in the best possible light, regardless of the topic (hello, spin doctors!). Press releases rarely, if ever, present both sides of the story. The court decision affirms that the finding in favor of the plantiffs (Reich and AISD)was constitutional in that the defendant was shown due process and his first amendment rights were upheld in the grievance process and court filings.

Are you arguing that because this was a Northside school, the Constitution should not apply?

Also, if you read the GADOE appeals decisions, you’ll realize that not every grievance, motion, or appeal can be covered by the local news media. If that happened, we’d have a never-ending newscast and our big problems in education would be stuck in the mire of petty complaints and hurt feelings.

I do feel for this teacher, but I also feel that his cause may be hurt by flaming blogs and launching diatribes.


December 22nd, 2010
4:18 pm

@Ralph Long – Thank you for providing your cell phone #. And thank you for taking a bold stand against APS wrongdoings. We need more elected officials like you.