Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Week of July 26, 2010

When District senior staff decides a principal should be transferred or reassigned, it is usually based upon one of the following reasons:

• A capable and experienced principal has earned a promotional opportunity.

• The principal has sought a transfer based upon the desire for a new experience after serving successfully for five or more years at the site.

• The test scores at a school site have failed to reflect improvement over a period of years.

• The principal has made serious errors in judgment, which may have negatively impacted students and or staff.

• The principal has engaged in, supported or ignored behavior, which is ultimately determined to be criminal in nature.

• District leadership has been unable to withstand political pressure from bargaining units or Board members that may reflect exaggerated or fictional concerns.

Here are the facts: Approximately one week ago, Suzanne Blake, Principal of Central Los Angeles High School #9, the School of Visual & Performing Arts, was called to a meeting by recently hired Local District 4Superintendent Dr. Dale Vigil and was told that she was being replaced. Mrs. Blake was given no reason for her transfer.

Prior to the meeting with Dr. Vigil on June 28, 2010, Superintendent Ramon Cortines had advised Mrs. Blake that she would remain at Central Los Angeles High School #9. Mrs. Blake was quoted in The Daily News on Thursday, July 15, 2010, “I have not been told why I am not able to stay.

“This seems to me to be a backroom deal,” she said.

A brief review of Mrs. Blake’s tenure at Central Los Angeles High School #9 includes the following:

• Superintendent Cortines hired her only three months prior to the opening of the new school, a considerably shorter time frame than is normal.

• Central Los Angeles High School #9 students had extraordinarily positive results in CAHSEE Math and English/Language Arts with passing rates of 80% and 90%, respectively.

• Students won numerous awards throughout the school year.

• The school achieved a maximum accreditation for a new site.

• The vast majority of staff, students and parents were extremely supportive of her leadership.

• The school had an outstanding culminating student performance in June 2010.

Since Mrs. Blake completed a very successful opening year as Principal of Central Los Angeles High School #9, one can only wonder why Dr. Vigil and Superintendent Cortines transferred her. In a period of fiscal crisis and an obvious need for stability, the wonderment surrounding this transfer has an unpleasant aroma about it!

While AALA has no proof of any involvement of Board of Education Members in this personnel matter, we are still looking for a sensible rationale. To date there is none to be found.

Has Board Members’ policy-making role blurred into the day-to-day operations of the school district,which is normally the responsibility of the Superintendent and his staff?

AALA strongly recommends the rescinding of Mrs. Blake’s transfer.

Note: While AALA has chosen to severely critique the District’s action in this matter, we are in no way disparaging the assignment of her replacement, who is also a fine professional.

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