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Tensions rise over resignation of assistant principal at Hopewell MS

Robinson becomes 14th Fulton Schools' AP to leave job in first four months of school

Arthur "Joey" Robinson (click for larger version)
January 23, 2013
MILTON, Ga. — While parents at Hopewell Middle School vent their anger over the "resignation" of a popular assistant principal, it appears housecleaning is underway in Fulton County Schools among the cadre of assistant principals.

Since the start of this school year, 14 assistant principals have stepped down from their job for various reasons —compared with only two during the same time frame last school year. And with the majority of retirements and resignations traditionally announced toward the end of the school year, the number of assistant principals leaving their post is certain to grow before the end of the year.

Despite the skewed numbers, a spokesperson for Fulton County Schools says the number of assistant principals leaving the system is not unusual.

"Human Resources does not think [these numbers] are out of the norm for a district this size. There are a total of about 260 assistant principals [in Fulton Schools]," said Samantha Evans, spokesperson for Fulton Schools.

Of the 14 AP's who left during the four-month span from August to December, three were promoted, seven resigned or were terminated, and four retired after the start of the school year.

In a process that began last year, all principals and assistant principals now go through extensive evaluation under new state and local guidelines. Evans could not say if any of the assistant principals who left their positions this year had been evaluated, but noted the bar for assistant principals has been raised.

"The system is holding the assistant principals more accountable for the success of the school. That message is loud and clear," said Evans.

Resignation creates furor at Hopewell MS

The exodus of assistant principals is spread equally throughout the school system and drew little attention until the resignation of Arthur "Joey" Robinson at Hopewell Middle School. His resignation, coming upon a rocky year for Principal Lenora Patterson, drew the ire of many members of the school community.

"Joey Robinson was forced to resign from Hopewell due to [Patterson]," said parent Eileen Wilson in a widely distributed letter of support for Robinson. "[He] is a man of fine character… who loves our children, teachers and provided our community with 13 and a half years of service in Fulton County. He…has been blindsided by Dr. Patterson who dismissed him to keep his mouth shut regarding several issues that were going on at Hopewell."

Since the start of the school year, factions of the Hopewell community have butted heads with Patterson over the dress code, attendance at school events, implementation of block scheduling and other operational changes made at the school. This is Patterson's second full year at Hopewell.

But the issue with Robinson sparked a raw nerve with parents, many of whom showed up at a community meeting this month held by Fulton School Board member Katie Reeves.

Reeves confirms she has heard concerns from Hopewell parents this year, but said her role as a board member limits her actions. She does, however, hold principals accountable for their relationships with their school communities.

"Our expectation is that our principals are able to gather support for their vision from the community," said Reeves. "[Staff] is both supporting and applying pressure to ensure that the success of Hopewell Middle School continues."

Reeves noted board members are not in charge of school oversight, which is the role of the superintendent and his staff, but they do receive updates from staff. Personally, she believes the role of the principal should be to build partnerships.

"Stakeholder support, communication and trust is the foundation for everything, and if [a principal] has good communication and has built trust, then everything tends to get resolved," said Reeves.

While the reasons behind the resignation of Robinson were not made public, Evans said it centered on performance-based issues.

"He was an underperforming employee who opted to resign during his inquiry," said Evans. "Nothing illegal was done [by Robinson]; it was strictly a work performance situation."

Wilson defended Robinson, saying he was being blamed for situations created by the principal.

"He is being assigned the blame for all of the nightmares…which is due to the lack of leadership and poor decision making skills on Dr. Patterson's part," said Wilson.

list visuals View images.

Schools reporting changes in Assistant Principals (Aug.-Dec.)

  • Alpharetta HS
  • Creekside HS (2)
  • Feldwood ES
  • Hembree Springs ES
  • Hopewell MS
  • Mimosa ES
  • Northwestern MS
  • Renaissance ES
  • River Trail MS
  • Tri-Cities HS
  • Westlake HS (2)
  • Woodland MS

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    Tags: Education News & School Sports

    1. report print email
      How about Principals?
      January 23, 2013 | 04:21 PM

      How about Teachers and Principals? Several principals resigned recently as well.

      The word out there is that high quality teachers are leaving Fulton County School System.

      Can somebody check on Fulton County to see how many employee they hired from Teach for America and Broad Superintendents Academy recently?

      Avossa being from Broad Superintendents Academy, it was expected that we would have all these employee issues.

    2. report print email
      Joey Robinson
      January 30, 2013 | 03:11 PM

      So why make it so Joey can't work in Fulton County School Systems anymore.? Why is Dr Patterson not being forced to resign because as we believe it was her idea to put all these new policies in place? Until she came to Hopewell we were a successful school. Something isn't right here!

    3. report print email
      Hopewell Principal Resigned!
      May 01, 2013 | 10:54 AM

      I heard that hopewell principal resigned and about 10 quality teachers leaving hopewell. Is this true? Anyone knows anything about this?

      Why do we have all this mess in our school system? :(

      Involved Parent
    4. report print email
      Horrible Principal
      May 01, 2013 | 12:48 PM

      I've never seen a prinicpal (Lenora Patterson) with such poor management skills, she spoiled the entire atmosphere at Hopewell, and Joey Robinson is blamed for her misdeeds, she should be kicked out of the school and infact be prosecuted for the reckless way in which she handled the school, the rules that she puts in makes the entire school atmosphere a Jail like environment, students cannot talk to each other, block scheduling.....I dont know where she gets all these stupid ideas. She should be shown the door immediately (period)and not until the end of school year

    5. report print email
      Lenora gets what she deserves - SHAME
      May 11, 2013 | 11:30 AM

      Lenora should be ashamed of herself for turning Hopewell into "Dumpwell". She single handedly did that in only 2 years and the Fulton County School System should also be ashamed of themselves for allowing this "social experiment" to occur in the first place. A teacher with 1 year of classroom experience and only 2 years of Vice Principal experiences DOES NOT deserve to be made Principal just because of her skin color and degree level. She deserves all the shame we can muster. I hope that Hopewell MS can repair it's reputation quickly.

      Embarrassed Parent and Taxpayer
    6. report print email
      dr. patterson wa awful
      January 11, 2014 | 10:52 PM

      i am a student who went to the school lat year when she was principal. i had moved from massachusetts during the summer so i started school on the first day being brand new. she made that year incredibly hard for me to adjust with all the new rules and confusion. there was no teacher-principal communication and my teachers constantly complained about her during class. she was never around and stayed in her office all day. i dont believe she ever listened to the suggestions from coworkers or her students. mr. robinson should not have been fired just because of her mistakes.

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