Following weeks of turmoil within the JEB Stuart High School community over concerns about the competence of the school’s leadership, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Garza is taking action to bring in administrative support.
Among the problems cited at several recent meetings of parents and community members and in letters to FCPS administrators: Stuart’s low rankings on an FCPS survey of working conditions, large numbers of teachers leaving the school, low morale among employees, poorly enforced student discipline, and a lack of response from FCPS.
Garza sent a letter to all parents and employees in the Stuart High School pyramid June 13 outlining several steps she is taking to address the problem. Here is the letter in its entirety:
“Dear Stuart Staff and Community:
Thank you to the individuals who have taken the time to express your thoughts and opinions about Stuart High School. I acknowledge your concerns, and I want you to know that I have listened deeply to the issues you presented. The success of Stuart High School remains a top priority for me.
It is not uncommon for FCPS to mobilize support when the need arises in one of our schools. We will take the following specific actions to ensure improvements that I am confident will benefit the staff and students at Stuart High School:
• Before the end of the school year, Dr. Deborah Jackson, one of our best school leaders, will join the Stuart administrative team full time as a mentor/coach for the school leadership team. Dr. Jackson is the former principal of Hughes Middle School and McLean High School.
• Shawn DeRose, current assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and a former assistant principal at Stuart, will return as an assistant principal. Shawn is also the 2014 Virginia Assistant Principal of the year.
• Stuart will receive special support from Human Resources to fill teaching vacancies as soon as possible. We are confident the school will be fully staffed before the start of the school year.
• Currently, Shannon Tully, a retired director of student services, is working with the Stuart leadership team and teachers to develop the 2014-15 master schedule. We will ensure that next year’s master schedule is completed this summer and will be well-designed to meet the needs of Stuart High School students.
Quickly infusing these individuals and this support into the Stuart community will enhance the talented staff that is already in place and will enable us to move forward in a positive way.
I ask for your continued support for Stuart High School. Also, please know that I will continue to closely monitor the situation because the needs at Stuart High School are a top priority for me.