Two weeks ago DJUSD was set to hire outside candidate Lee Fleming from San Diego County as the next principal of Davis High. But that was before teachers from DHS protested the hire. Roughly 70 teachers showed up to a closed session meeting complaining about the process and the decision to hire an outside candidate over longtime DHS teacher, vice principal and current interim principal Tom McHale.
The school board announced that they had withdrawn the consent item for the hire. Now in a full reversal, the district is prepared to hire Tom McHale.
District PIO Maria Clayton confirmed that while there has been “no public announcement at this time,” the district sent a message “internally to Davis Senior High staff earlier this week letting them know that Mr. Tom McHale is being recommended for the principal vacancy at Davis Senior High School.”
In an email from John Bowes, acquired by the Vanguard, the message to high school staff confirms that Mr. McHale “is being recommended for Board of Education approval…”
He writes that “we appreciate the feedback received on the matter from staff and the broader community.”
Mr. Bowes stated, “As part of DJUSD, Davis Senior High School has a critical leadership role in accomplishing the important goals for our District set forth by the Board of Education. Your individual and collective actions supporting the work of Principal McHale will enable Davis Senior High to accomplish remarkable things in the coming years.”
The question that many will have is how did this happen? The teachers learned of the decision at a staff meeting the day before the board was set to vote on the recommendation for Mr. Fleming. As one teacher described during public comment, “It was dead silent. People were crying and afterwards people got angry.”
Within a day, the teachers were able to mobilize 70 teachers to come to the closed session portion of the meeting.
Kelly McInturf, reading a letter, stated that the administration could not give the teachers a straight answer for what their vision for DHS was. She concluded, “I feel that by not hiring Tom as principal, the district is continuing to demonstrate a lack of respect for educators which makes me wonder if DJUSD is the place for me to teach long term.”
That was a common theme, Holly Istas said that she feels the decision sent a clear message that the teachers’ input “was not valued, that surveys and meetings were just lipservice and the district office was going to do what it wanted to do regardless of how it impacted the teachers, students and staff.”
She said, “Today the teachers and staff are demoralized, defeated and angry. They feel betrayed and let down because the district is doing again what it has done before – hiring someone from the outside who will come in with an agenda and who will leave in a couple of years after they get a better job offer at another school.”
At the same time, others had misgivings about hiring Mr. McHale, including students and the administrators.
The school board plays a role in ratifying hires, but the hiring process itself and the recommendation is made by the superintendent and his staff. The board hires directly only the superintendent and thus had no say at all in the hire until the matter was placed on consent with a recommendation for hire.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
Hello readers – We are in the middle of one of the most interesting and exciting election years in recent history. The Vanguard is bringing the election coverage like no one else. And we’ve brought on some additional help just to make sure we cover everything. We need to raise $1000 this month to help cover the bills. It’s a small campaign, but necessary. If you support our work – please donate a little bit to help us out.
To donate, hit this link: https://www.gofundme.com/may-vanguard-fundraiser