Principals from three of Indianapolis Public Schools’ most prolific high schools are among nearly two dozen administrators whose contracts were not renewed this week by the district.
Arsenal Tech, Broad Ripple and Crispus Attucks high schools will all have new leadership teams next year as the result of changes approved by the school board Tuesday.
Only board member Gayle Cosby voted against the changes, which did not renew the contracts of four principals, 10 assistant principals and a handful of other administrators.
Principal Larry Yarrell at Arsenal, Michael Akers at Broad Ripple and Stephanie Nixon at Crispus Attucks could apply for other jobs in the district but are not guaranteed a position.
Arsenal has earned a D grade from the state for low test scores for the past three years. But Broad Ripple and Crispus Attucks high schools — both magnet programs — are doing better. Crispus Attucks, a medical magnet high school, has earned an A grade from the state for three years. Broad Ripple, which offers its students a performing arts program, has earned a B for three years. But the middle schools attached to those buildings, also overseen by those principals, have struggled. Both Broad Ripple and Crispus Attucks’ middle schools have earned F grades for two years.
Also being let go are Sheldon Floyd, principal of School 107; Andrea Ettenberger, assistant principal of School 39; Trisha Armstrong, assistant principal of School 49; and Shelia Burlock, assistant principal of School 103.
School 107, which has been rated an F for the past two years, also will get a new principal. Other schools affected include School 39, School 49 and School 103, where contracts were not renewed for assistant principals. Both School 49 and School 103 have earned three years of D or F grades from the state for the past three years.
Also not renewed were the heads of IPS’s alternative education programs — Brian Burke and Teresa Knox — and an interim special education administrator, Carletha Yarrell, who is married to Tech’s principal Larry Yarrell.
Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, through his spokeswoman, declined to comment on the administrative changes. State law requires that principals with expiring contracts receive notice of renewal or nonrenewal by district officials by March 1.
Board member Caitlin Hannon, who voted in favor of the changes, said she believes Ferebee should have the freedom to select building leaders and hold them accountable for progress.
“It’s not a vote for or against an individual person,” Hannon said. “It’s the way, I think, you have to staff schools for leadership. If there’s any job we have to let the superintendent do, it’s personnel. I hope that some of the people who were on the list will stay in IPS and will find opportunities either rejoining that administrative team or apply for (other roles). There was a lot of talent on that list.”
Cosby, the board’s lone no vote on the plan, said she was moved by speakers who attended recent board meetings to speak on behalf of some of the administrators. She also said she wants school communities to have more autonomy when it comes to who their principals are.
“We need to be careful about picking and choosing what pieces of autonomy we choose to give to our schools,” Cosby said. “We allow them to be involved in the hiring decision when we form principal selection committees and solicit input from our stakeholders. On the back end, we don’t solicit input in the same way.”
Several teachers, staff members and parents from Arsenal spoke in support of Yarrell at each of the last several meetings. Yarrell told Chalkbeat he wanted more time to improve academic performance at Tech.
“We’re making tremendous growth, leaps and bounds,” he said. “Our graduation rate is as high as it’s ever been. We’re growing, but it takes time to make the milestones.”
The full list of administrators whose contracts were not renewed included:
- Michael Akers, principal, Broad Ripple High School
- Stephanie Nixon, principal, Crispus Attucks High School
- Lawrence Yarrell, principal, Arsenal Technical High School
- Sheldon Floyd, principal, School 107
- David Brunsting, assistant principal, Arsenal Technical High School
- Lora Feeser, assistant principal, Arsenal Technical High School
- Teresa James-Robinson, assistant principal, Arsenal Technical High School
- Keith White, assistant principal, Broad Ripple High School
- Reginald White, assistant principal, Crispus Attucks High School
- Trisha Armstrong, assistant principal, School 49
- Shelia Burlock, assistant principal, School 103
- Andrea Ettenberger, assistant principal, School 39
- Vickie Nowlin, assistant principal, Graduation Academy
- Matthew Rimer, assistant principal, Phoenix Academy
- Brian Burke, coordinator, Step Ahead Academy
- Teresa Knox, coordinator, Positive Supports Academy
- Mark West, coordinator, Juvenile Detention Center
- Carletha Yarrell, interim administrator, special education department