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Principal Candidates Interviewed

Lyles-Crouch parents don't think School Board will revisit unpopular decision.

Parents at Alexandria's Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy presented a petition to the School Board last week asking them to reconsider moving the school's principal to another elementary school in the city. But many now feel the Board will not revisit the decision made by Superintendent Rebecca Perry.

Parents have continued to express their outrage over the decision since they learned of Principal Lucretia Jackson's reassignment to Maury Elementary School. Lyles-Crouch has been accredited for the past two years and Maury is the only school in Northern Virginia that failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act. Jackson has been at Lyles-Crouch for eight years as the principal and has worked in the Alexandria City Public School system for more than 30 years.

"...Please pause for a moment and take a fresh look at the decision to move Ms. Lucretia Jackson from Lyles-Crouch," said Lee Quill, the parent of a Lyles-Crouch kindergartner and a local architect who has been involved in civic affairs in Alexandria for many years.

"My wife Lori and I have been strong supporters and advocates of the School Board's and school administration's efforts to create excellence in public education and to bring families that have choice, back to the Alexandria City Public school system.

"The stability and success of the east end urban schools is a strategic component of this effort and of critical importance to the City of Alexandria and our young children and our children currently enrolled in these schools. It is a model where parents of all children, including children with learning disabilities, have self-selected a school," said Quill.

"The decision to move Ms. Jackson from Lyles-Crouch to become principal at Maury, has torn at the fragile fabric Ms. Jackson has succeeded in creating with her staff at a once struggling school. The stability of Lyles-Crouch and its accreditation referenced by the School Board at the Thursday night, April 22, PTA meeting, is but a mere two years in existence. Factually, most would call this a very hopeful beginning, not a track record on which to take apart the creation of one of the best success models we have in the east end," Quill said.

SCHOOL BOARD members and members of the school administration have continued to state that the decision to move Jackson to Maury is final. "This decision is final and now we need to move forward to select a principal for Lyles-Crouch," said Superintendent Rebecca L. Perry at the April 22 meeting with Lyles-Crouch parents. After leaving that meeting, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated after visiting an Old Town restaurant with School Board member Mellissa Luby and another school administration staff person..

The process of finding another principal is indeed moving forward. A committee of five Lyles-Crouch parents and five teachers from the school interviewed nine candidates for the job of principal on May 8. "The committee reported to me that they were pleased with the pool of candidates and have selected three candidates whose names have been forwarded to the superintendent," said Kate Watters, incoming PTA president at Lyles-Crouch. "Members of the committee feel that these three candidates are qualified and could maintain the positive progress that is happening at Lyles-Crouch.

"We are not happy with the decision to move Ms. Jackson, but it is our responsibility to welcome a new principal and assist that person in creating a positive learning environment for all of our children," she said.

Quill is not hopeful that the Board will reconsider its decision. "I was received very politely and thanked for my comments but I have had no indication from any member of the Board that the decision will be revisited," he said. "This concerns me because the School Board and the school administration only seem to want parental involvement in the school system when the parents agree with their decisions."

Board member Kenneth Foran had hoped that the decision would be revisited but does not believe that will happen.

"I believe that we should strongly consider the input of the community most impacted by our decisions," he said. "In this case, that community is the parents of students at Lyles-Crouch."