Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Superintendent releases letter regarding staff transfers

The recent transfer of teachers from one school to another school within the Chapel Hill- Carrboro City Schools has been a source of concern for a number of individuals including former students, parents, and staff members. The transfers imposed at Chapel Hill High School are two of thirteen involuntary transfers that have occurred throughout the district for the coming school year. Because of the public debate about these two transfers, I feel it is important to clarify my decision to the extent I am able to do so without violating personnel confidentiality law.

Since my arrival as Superintendent, I have spent much time in all of the schools in the district. I have seen outstanding teaching as well as students and parents who value education. That being said, public education is in a time of change. With the advent of the Common Core and NC Essential Standards, teachers will be required to deliver instruction in a new and exciting way. Our classroom and school environments will need to become places where the conversations among teachers and administrators are about instructional improvement. An atmosphere of trust and mutual respect is critical to our success.

In listening to teachers, parents, school administrators, and others over the past year, I found that many stakeholders at Chapel Hill High School were frustrated with the culture of the school. I heard concerns about how the school administration worked with teachers and concerns about how teachers worked together. It was clear to me from the depth of these concerns that in order for Chapel Hill High School to realize achievement growth for all students a culture change was necessary.

Chapel Hill High School is blessed with hard working and talented teachers. Many are receptive to the changes that are evolving in public education and desire to learn and grow as professionals. Others are seen as resistant to change. As the Superintendent who is charged with leading this shift in how schools approach teaching and learning, I felt I needed to implement staff changes that would provide the best chance for success as Chapel Hill High School moves forward under a new principal.

It is important to note that the decision to transfer some individuals was based on a year of observing, listening, and talking with students, district staff, former staff members, parents, and School Improvement Team members. The decision was not about punishing individuals who “speak their minds about school or district policies.” In all cases the individuals to be transferred were notified in a face to face meeting.

It is a goal of the district to create collaborative cultures in our schools where everyone feels safe to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal from administration or from their peers. The staff changes will provide opportunities for those transferred and for those who were not transferred to contribute in a positive way in their current or new environment to assist the school’s desire to move to even higher levels of achievement for all.

Obviously, I am not at liberty to disclose specifics with regard to each individual transfer situation. Personnel issues are confidential, but in every case School Board policy has been followed.

Finally, it is my firm belief that with new leadership at the school and with all staff pulling together with a shared vision, what is a very good school can become one of the rare truly great learning organizations. I am confident that the positive programs and initiatives that staff members currently lead will expand and grow as we move forward.


Thomas A. Forcella
Superintendent of Schools
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