Why Does DISD Keep Shuffling Principals?

Once again, there will be a new face in the principal’s office at Dealey Montessori Academy this fall, when Beverly Lusk moves into the top role.

Lusk is hardly alone, however, as Dallas ISD has seen a remarkable turnover in campus leadership this summer, with new principals coming to more than 25 percent of schools in the district.

At Dealey, Lusk will be the third principal in the past three years. She comes from Caillet Elementary School, where she held the top job for two years, and has been in DISD for 20 years overall, working her way up from classroom teacher to administration.

Lusk hopes that she can fulfill parents’ wishes for stability at the campus following the departure of Ena Meyers, who is moving to Titche Elementary following one contentious year at Dealey.

“She’s an advocate for Montessori, which is something our parents are looking for,” said Eryn Davila, the school’s PTA president. “She’s personable and parents want to feel like they can have a voice. She gives me that vibe.”

After all, Lusk lives in the neighborhood and has had a seventh-grade daughter who’s been attending Dealey since pre-kindergarten.

“It’s a great place. She’s here for a reason,” Lusk said. “I love the way the Montessori model focuses on developing the whole child.”

Several other schools in Preston Hollow also have been affected by relentless principal shuffling. Just down the road from Dealey, both Hillcrest High School and Franklin Middle School are losing their longtime leaders, with Hillcrest’s Ronald Jones and Franklin’s Jonathan Parker both resigning. Dr. Leeann Bartee, formerly of Birdville ISD, is taking over at Hillcrest.

The turnover comes during a time of general administrative volatility in DISD that included the resignation in June of superintendent Mike Miles, who spearheaded some of the staffing changes. In all, almost 60 of the district’s 222 schools will have new leaders this fall.

“Our top priority is to make sure each campus is led by a high-quality principal. The path for each campus is different,” said DISD spokesman Andre Riley. “Continuity is important and we work to maintain it when possible, but sometimes school leaders choose to leave for positions in other school districts. It is vital we have the right principals in the right places to support college and career readiness.”

After two years at Walker Middle School, Richie Heffernan has been reassigned and replaced by Laura Stout. Tammie Brooks, who was at Walnut Hill Elementary for the past several years, will move to Moreno Elementary. And at Cary Middle School, Benjamin Dickerson will assume the reins this fall as the fifth leader since 2011.

That means few DISD principals, such as Margarita Hernandez at Pershing Elementary and Lorena Hernandez at Williams Elementary, have more than five years of experience at their current position.

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