Protesting public officials' decisions still works after all.
Dozens of parents and children asked Omaha Public Schools officials last month to reconsider moving three principals to new buildings this fall.
They pleaded at public meetings and in private gatherings. They wrote emails and letters. They even started petitions.
At least some of those parents got their wish Thursday: Their principal was staying.
Interim OPS Superintendent Virginia Moon announced that Shelly Burghardt will remain at Hartman Elementary and Decua Jean-Baptiste will stay at Franklin Elementary.
Both had been scheduled to be transferred to different schools this fall.
Parents and students at King Elementary had asked Moon and the OPS school board to keep Principal Dan Hoeck at their school.
The news wasn't as good for them. Hoeck's transfer is final. He will lead Florence Elementary this fall.
In an interview, Moon said she made the decisions in discussions with the principals. She acted now because she wanted everyone to move on.
Moon didn't want the issue hanging over the new school board, which had its first meeting Monday, or over incoming Superintendent Mark Evans, who starts July 1.
“There was no more time to wait and debate it,” she said.
School board President Justin Wayne said the new board did not pressure Moon into reversing her placements.
Wayne, who attended Hartman Elementary, had spoken out at an earlier board meeting about wanting Burghardt to remain there. He even wore a blue Hartman T-shirt at the meeting, the same T-shirt many of the Hartman parents in the crowd were wearing.
“This is a superintendent's decision,” Wayne said. “The board does not want to get into micromanaging principalships.”
The parental input should be more regular in the future. Moon said OPS, when possible, will include more comment from staff, parents and students when making future principal changes.
Tanya Valenzuela had two children at Franklin Elementary this past school year. She saw them both become more outgoing and enjoy school with Jean-Baptiste as the principal.
“I'm looking forward to a good school year,” she said.
Moon also announced two related principal changes.
Scott Sturgeon, who was to lead Hartman, will take over Central Park Elementary, where Burghardt had been assigned.
And LeDonna York, who was scheduled to go to Franklin, will lead Masters Elementary, the school to which Jean-Baptiste had been assigned.
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