Following a storm of parent criticism and falling test scores, the principal of Lake Anne Elementary, Michelle Padgett, requested and was granted administrative leave last week.
In a letter dated Sept. 27, Padgett, with “mixed emotions,” notified parents of the change in administration that took effect Sept. 30.
“When I return from leave, I will assume a position elsewhere in the school system,” said Padgett in the letter.
Laura Shibles, a retired principal who served at Mosby Woods Elementary School from 1990 to 2004, has stepped in as acting principal. Before her work at Mosby Woods, Shibles was the assistant principal at Timber Lane Elementary School for three years.
Except to say that Padgett’s request was voluntary and that she is still on the payroll, the spokesman for Fairfax County Public Schools, Paul Regnier, would not comment.
“This all comes as a surprise to the PTA, parents and teachers,” said Giannina Velez, the school’s PTA president, who acknowledged that some parents had concerns about the administration at Lake Anne and had circulated a petition that requested Padgett be replaced.
This past year, for the first time, Lake Anne failed to meet yearly adequate progress as mandated by the federal Leave No Child Behind legislation.
In her duties as PTA president, Velez said she always worked with FCPS to work through any concern parents had. “I wasn’t too sure as to why [Padgett requested the leave of absence], but I did talk to her and asked if this was something she wanted,” said Velez. “And she said yes and said she was looking forward to it.”
Velez said she wished Padgett well. “We’re going to continue to work with the acting principal, Laura Schibles, to make this a smooth transition for the kids,” said Velez.
In the past several months, the PTA has had meetings with Betsy Goodman, assistant superintendent for the South Lakes High School pyramid. In addition, since the school year started, Sherry Braithwaite, acting director of equity and compliance, has looked into problems at the school.
Padgett, who has been principal at Lake Anne the last four years, said in her letter that she is “hopeful that the many positive programs and activities we implemented together at Lake Anne will continue to grow and develop.”