In the news: new Madison Principal backs out

5:29 pm

Jennifer Anderson writes in the Portland Tribune that current Roosevelt High principal Deborah Peterson has decide not to accept her appointment to lead a unified Madison High in light of the significant controversy ignited by her appointement there without community involvement.

“I have rescinded acceptance of the appointment in the hopes that PPS will be able to conduct a process for appointment of the Madison principal,” Peterson wrote in an e-mail.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Elections, High Schools, Madison High, Roosevelt High

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35 Responses

  1. Comment from Rita:

    Wow. Maybe Carole is listening, after all.

    Congratulations to the Madison community for agitating so effectively. Nicely done. Now let’s see how they handle Step 2.

  2. Comment from Susan:

    Sounds to me like it was Deborah Peterson that was listening.

  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    You’re right, Susan. This is all about somebody not wanting to walk into the lion’s den. Can’t say I blame her for that!

    PPS administrators need to build up some good will in the Madison community, and quick. They keep trying the heavy-handed, top-down approach, and things just keep getting worse.

  4. Comment from Bob:

    The responsibility for this mess rests firmly on the shoulders of Toni Hunter, Assistant Superintendent for High Schools. She made the decision to place Ms. Peterson at Madison without the involvement of teachers, students and parents. Toni Hunter is the District administrator who chose to exclude Madison from a public process to select a new principal. The Madison community needs to hold Toni Hunter accountable.

  5. Comment from Terry:

    Well, maybe so, Bob. But in all administrative snafus, the buck stops on the Super’s desk.


  6. Comment from Bob:

    Yes, ultimately, the buck does stop on Carole Smith’s desk, but her senior administrators are the folks who advise her and supervise the big initiatives. Toni Hunter, as Assistant Superintendent for High Schools, is the senior administrator responsible for the programs and administration in PPS high schools. She is paid handsomely for this work and is the person who advised the Superintendent to approve the move of Ms. Peterson from Roosevelt into Madison. If Supt. Smith does not hold Ms. Hunter accountable for this mess, then the buck should stop on the Superintendent’s desk.

  7. Comment from Zarwen:

    “They keep trying the heavy-handed, top-down approach, and things just keep getting worse.”

    For a moment there, Steve, I thought you were talking about Jefferson. Or the K-8 debacle. Unfortunately, that sentence could describe so many of PPS’ actions over the last 10 years.

  8. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Ironically, I think it’s actually Carole’s desire to not be top-down that’s enabling the old guard administrators to keep doing what they’ve been doing, i.e. run a top-down ship with a sometimes adversarial relationship with teachers, classified staff and community.

  9. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Interesting idea, Steve. Makes sense to me. Can you put any examples behind it? Or can anybody else? Maybe we are giving Carole Smith too much credit. Hope not.

  10. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    I can’t give you any specific examples, but ask your PPS teacher friends.

    I think there are a lot of things that haven’t changed administratively, even as Carole appears willing to make big, strategic course corrections.

    I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on the latter for now, but I sure wish she’d make a bold statement (I don’t just mean words) about the management style that has been on display vis-a-vis Madison and Roosevelt under her watch.

  11. Comment from Rita:

    Steve Duin has an update today on the Madison HS principal saga. It appears that PPS is playing hardball and has informed Deborah Peterson that if she doesn’t accept the position at Madison, the District will consider it her resignation from PPS.

    So, I guess that clarifies whose decision it was. Nicely played, PPS. This incident has now officially been elevated to a brouhaha.

    Meanwhile, as the District continues to insist that it is not required to consult with anyone about a principal transfer, we have this little item from Thursday’s Oregonian: “New Principal Chosen for Beaumont Middle School.”

    Of special interest is this piece of info: “In making her selection, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith held a community meeting and conducted a survey to identify skills and traits parents thought were important for the new principal. She will do the same with the Ainsworth school community to choose Casson-Taylor’s replacement.”

    So, yeah, I believe there’s no policy on community input on principal choice. The better to discriminate, my dear.

  12. Comment from Zarwen:

    Sounds to me like it’s time for the Roosevelt and Madison communities to join hands and shut down a school board meeting.

  13. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Oh my.

  14. Comment from UpsetMadisonParent:

    YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! ALL I WANT TO KNOW AFTER HEARING THIs IS, WHERE DO WE GO AND WHAT DO WE DO?!?! I am beyond furious and feel totally DISRESPECTED by the CLEAR DISCRIMINATION in not granting Madison THE SAME PROCESS as the rich schools!! I am LIVID!! How can they say that is not what is occuring here?!?! If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck….folks its a darn DUCK!!!

  15. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Anytime now I hope to see those school board members who speak so much about equity come to the rescue of this mess. 🙂

  16. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    The call to action needs to go beyond Roosevelt and Madison. They’re just the latest schools to get trampled. Jefferson’s been suffering these indignities for decades. Marshall’s been hit too but they don’t get the same attention.

    I have no sympathy for district administrators who glady play the political game as long as they obtain personal benefits but cry foul when it turns out to be to their disadvantage.

    The situation with Deborah Peterson is interesting for so many reasons. One thing that’s interesting is that the district tried to pass Deborah off as a great principal. Why would they be willing to let such an outstanding employee go?

    Also, how many of us have been told that it’s impossible to get rid of bad principals? Really? Deborah has until 6:00 Monday? Let’s start a list of principals to be fired and establish deadlines for each one.

    Protests at school board meetings are long overdue!

  17. Comment from Stephanie:

    Count me in for any demos! We are getting a new principal at Ockley and we have been completely engaged in the process. Must be the same for all and I will stand with you.

  18. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Those of you in the Roosevelt and Madison communities, as well as everybody else who’s tired of being pushed around, please see this notice.

    Ideally, the nascent PPS Parent Union could be an excellent vehicle for collectivizing and amplifying our voices.

  19. Comment from Val Gogoleski:

    Well, ain’t this just great. As a teacher at Madison, I think I shall upchuck the next time I hear “we have to do what’s best for the kids”, or “we’re here for the kids”. Oh, really? Is all this drama good for the kids? The school? The staff? The Madison community that I live in?

    Let me see…first Madison teachers overwhelmingly vote to oust their principal—and get blasted by Carole Smith in the paper last summer. Old principal is back for a year. Then, no process for ol’ Mad Hi in selecting a new one (oops, I fergot—I live and work on the east side, shame on me for thinking we had a voice!). So, the new principal decides she doesn’t want to set foot in a “hornet’s nest” where teachers and parents are ready to revolt—so the answer to her is: “TAKE THE JOB LADY, EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT IT, THE WHOLE MADISON COMMUNITY IS IN A DITHERS OVER THIS, MISERY REIGNS, or “WE’RE GONNA FIRE YOU”???? What on earth has happened to one of the best school districts in the US? The one I moved 2500 miles to teach in, pay cut and all?? This is a new low in public education, pathetic. What a DYSFUNCTIONAL WAY TO OPERATE A DISTRICT!!!!!

    If I hear anything about how “we’re here for the kids” ….blah, blah…blah….I shall upchuck right on my keyboard. Ya, an UPSET teaching community and furious parents is a real conducive environment for our young people, NOT.

  20. Comment from Bob:

    If Madison and Roosevelt communities are truly serious about enacting change with this situation they will stick to one, simple goal: HOLD TONI HUNTER ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIS MESS. She’s the top administrator leading this scenario. Hold her accountable or all this blustering from the Madison community is simply hot air.

  21. Comment from Val Gogoleski:

    Bob, what exactly do you have in mind to “hold Toni Hunter accountable?” Please suggest something here……..

  22. Comment from David:

    Duplicity is what we have here. Read between all the lines written about the lack of process in placing Peterson at Madison and what you have is a huge hoax perpetrated on the Madison community by attempting to foist off yet another principal “owed” a job by a system that protects its own. Rather then deal with any kind of incompetence from their ranks, admins are simply moved or even hidden around the district in positions having little to do with teaching children. Someone could do an inventory and locate these folks and then do an inventory of their job descriptions and determine just how much they contribute to classroom instruction. Ponzi scheme comes to mind. Possibly this practice is the next thing that needs to come under the scrutiny of quality control. Arrogance and an inablity to admit mistakes also perpetuate this system. I will be at the board meeting tomorrow but that will be about the fact that teachers are working without a contract. Most of us are not working without a conscience though and the doings of the last few weeks strikes me as being extemely bereft of ethics. How much more disgusted will I be before someone does the right thing and stop using bullying tactics when building concensus would help all of us.

  23. Comment from Bob:

    Ms. Hunter should be removed from her position as Assistant Superintendent of High Schools because she has failed to treat Madison and Roosevelt school communities with the same level of respect and consideration given to Lincoln and other more affluent schools.

  24. Comment from marcia:

    Yeah, I wondered what was going to happen to Ms. Peterson if she refused the job at Madison. So really…nothing much has changed..Same old dysfunctional mess at the top level it seems…

  25. Comment from MadisonClassOf11Senator:

    Madison PTO Meeting with Toni Hunter tomorrow, May 11th 6PM (@ Madison High School Library).
    Anyone is free to attend.
    Members of the Media have been invited as well.

  26. Comment from mary:

    I’d like to know the reason Toni Hunter did not offer Madison the same community process that was given to Beaumont, Ainsworth, Franklin, Lincoln, Wilson, Grant, Ockley, Alameda, and Beverly Cleary. The days of the neighborhood ignoring Madison and quietly transferring out are over folks!

  27. Comment from bobmjohnson:

    I am another Bob, not the Bob who has posted above.

    Let me set the record straight on Deborah Peterson, Roosevelt, and Madison.

    Deborah Peterson is a wonderfully effective Principal who has been the Champion at Roosevelt and has led the efforts that are now beginning to bear fruit in terms of improvements. She has the strong backing of the students, the staff which she had to restructure when she came, the parents, the community, and the alums and other stakeholders.

    I am an alum of RHS and can say with utmost confidence that we don’t want to lose her. But Carol believes that her budget won’t permit Deborah to stay at Roosevelt next year. Instead she and Toni are planning on having no site principal at all next year. Instead they plan for just the three small school principals who would be responsible, in theory, for fulfilling all of Deborah’s present roles. I have told both Carol and Toni that idea is sure to fail. There is built in conflict between the three for budget dollars, resources, grants, etc.. It makes no sense and any Business Board of Directors that removed a highly effective CEO and assumed the three business unit managers under him could continue to manage the company as well without him would probably face a shareholder revolt. Carol and Toni are facing the same kind of revolt from Roosevelt stakeholders. We want her to stay as Site Principal.

    So have no concerns about the competence of Deborah. She is more than competent, she is a rare leader who has amply demonstrated those skills at RHS.

    She wants to stay at RHS. Whether Carol and Toni can be lead to see the wisdom of that happening remains to be seen.

    More later.


  28. Comment from Amy Ambrosio:

    I have been a teacher at Roosevelt for over ten years and I am a strong believer in the power of small schools to better the educational lives of our students.
    Deborah Peterson has provided stability and advocacy for our campus so that we can serve our students. With Deborah in the campus principal position, our campus and small schools have been able to help the Portland community see that our students are intelligent youth, with tremendous potential. She has also tirelessly challenged the district administration on many levels–especially the gross inequities that schools in high-poverty communities face.
    Peterson has also galvanized strong community and alumni support for our programs. Deborah Peterson sees and appreciates the gifts our students and families bring to the educational experience at Roosevelt and promotes these gift.
    We need this advocacy and ability to work on behalf of our campus to continue. Losing her at this time would be a setback for our students and our teaching community.
    I ask all readers to support our campus’ need for continued stability as we continue to work for students who have unimaginable challenges confronting them every day. They deserve all the support possible–that is true equity.

  29. Comment from Madison Alum:

    I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but during the May 11 meeting with Toni Hunter (at Madison) it was mentioned that there are three High School principal openings right now: Madison, Franklin and POWER. POWER is one of the small schools on the Roosevelt campus. Why wouldn’t Deborah Peterson get to stay there?

  30. Comment from Elena Garcia-Velasco:

    I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact number of administrators I’ve seen coming and going through Roosevelt in my eleven years in the building, but I’m sure the figure is in the twenties, maybe even in the thirties.
    When Deborah Peterson came to us four years ago, the Roosevelt community was in great turmoil, in desperate need of someone who would want to come and stay for a while, someone who would actually take the time to listen to the staff, the students, and the diverse community at large, assess our unique needs and get to work. From the moment Deborah showed up back then, laptop in hand, just to listen and take notes, all the way to now, the whole campus has undergone a very profound transformation. Deborah’s support has been instrumental in the development of the strongest possible academic programs with the resources we have within our small schools structure, while keeping a sense of unity throughout the campus and with the North Portland community at large. Deborah’s work has brought a great deal of stability to the Roosevelt community. As a firm believer in the power of small schools, I want to point out that our development and our considerable gains have been in part possible thanks to Deborah’s high level of competency as our campus principal. Let’s not forget to give her the respect she is due.

  31. Comment from Stephanie:

    This came in my in-box today from a yahoogroup.

    “Friends of Roosevelt H.S.,

    Saturday, May 16th 8:30 a.m. at Jefferson High School EXTREMELY IMPORTANT MEETING FOR ROOSEVELT

    You need to know that this meeting was added after our actions. The Supt. And the Board of Education had no plans to hold a meeting in North Portland. We were expected to go to Wilson or Franklin or Madison to express our thoughts. When a North Portland meeting was reluctantly added you will notice that they scheduled the meeting for a Saturday at

    8:30 a.m. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine the strategy behind this!!

    We are planning a Roosevelt walk to the meeting at Jefferson. We are meeting at Portland Community College at 8 a.m. and will walk to nearby Jefferson for the meeting with Supt. Carole Smith and other PPS administrators. This meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

    We plan to remind our community public school leaders that we are opposed to their transferring our Principal Deborah Peterson.

    For those of you far away from Portland we will provide you with contact information of where you can email or call. For those of you who could care less—Shame on You!! That is not Rough Rider Spirit!! Roosevelt needs your help!!

    It’s a numbers game. Good attendance good impact!! Bad turn-out reinforces the decision makers stereotype about Roosevelt and its lack of support! You will have a chance to be seen and heard. Media will cover this event.

    Bring anyone having a pulse or even if they do not have a pulse bring them anyhow!!”

  32. Comment from Stephanie:

    FYI – I don’t necessarily agree with this post that the meeting was scheduled to be underhanded in any way but I think this is a good opportunity for Roosevelt to have their voices heard.

  33. Comment from lakeitha:

    The meeting was absolutely scheduled to be underhanded. PPs did not give the same opportunities for input to the Jefferson and Roosevelt Clusters as they did for other clusters. This meeting has not been publicized as well and the agenda will be different from the other 3. Who in the hell really wants to be up at 8:30 am on a Saturday? The only reason there is a meeting in our area is because a few of us asked specifically why no meeting was being held in our part of town.

  34. Comment from Stephanie:

    I sincerely apologize for any disrespect. Foot – Mouth – Me.

  35. Comment from Liz:

    Wow! I obviously know a different Deborah Peterson. The one who puts her hand in my face and says she wont deal with me and then runs away. The one who tells numbers of our kids to stop cheering at the homecoming football game becuuse it made our Cleveland “guests” uncomfortable. the one who never atended a girls basketball game but made a great big impression with Steve Duin by getting 1000 Lake Osewgo ‘neighbors’ to come support our girls. The same principal that has locked students in bathrooms. The same principal that rarely returns emails or phone calls. The same Peterson that met with me and my child to discuss what it was like to be a student on her campus. Mind you I have a very great daughter. A student leader, varsity athlete, co editoe of the yearbook, and NEVER a discipline problem. My child described the dificulties she was having in a very small voice and with tears and all Peterson had to offer was a transfer. A transfer. Is this a solution? an answer? She offered mediation. Then she left for Germany and forgot about us. But the night she had my daughter removed from the campus for cheering and then the subsequent suspension from a week of athletics, with no ‘due process’ thats my favorite.
    Its simple she had a contract and its up. It was up last year, but those Boosters they got to keep her for another year. Give it up, let her go. Most of her staff started celebrating with the announcement.