At Tuesday night’s meeting, dozens of parents and students from the community showed up wearing their green Rippowam T-shirts in support of assistant principal Lisa Mackey remaining at the middle school in the fall.
Mackey that after years at the school she will be moved to . Likewise, Northeast Assistant Principal Donna Gardner will be moving to Rippowam. As decided in the 2011-2012 operating budget, five middle schools are losing one assistant principal next fall, which was not a result of layoffs. Administrators either retired or are being placed elsewhere in the district.
“[Mackey] is the most amazing woman I have ever met,” Lisa Jenkins, who has two children that attended the school, said. “She loves middle school aged kids and it’s important for kids to not feel lost in those years. We need to keep her in the middle school environment.”
Jenkins succeeded her two daughters, Emily and Sarah, who also spoke in support of their assistant principal. “Taking away Mrs. Mackey would be a big mistake and the school would suffer because of it,” Emily said. “She is the heart of Rippowam. She made school fun and enjoyable because there was always something to laugh about.”
Some parents felt the decision to move Mackey was made with haste and without consulting the Rippowam community.
“[Superintendent Joshua Starr] made a recommendation to move her to Northeast. It was made without any notice or consideration,” Cathy Danna, co-president of the Rippowam Parent Teacher Organization, said. “There was no succession plan in place.”
Rippowam parent Beth Cooper echoed Danna’s comments. “There was a lack of leadership in the decision making process,” she said.
According to Winifred Hamilton, acting superintendent in Starr’s place, Mackey has experience at the elementary level and her administrator role and skills were shifted to a different school.
Mackey wasn’t the only administrator bringing out the public Tuesday night. Raymond Manka and Roth Nordin, ninth and tenth grade administrators, respectively, at were supported for their work at the school and the relatively high turnover rate of administrators at Westhill.
“The change in administration is disruptive to Westhill,” Skyler Ross, a 16-year-old student at Westhill, said. “There is a constant question of, ‘Who has oversight of our class?’ There is no continuity and a perpetual learning curve. Relationships with parents, students and teachers can’t develop when they don’t stay more than one year.”
“Westhill is not a training ground for administrators,” Wendy Lecker, co-president of the Stamford Parent Teacher Council, said.
Mike Rinaldi, assistant principal at , was also recommended by the administration to move to . Eric Hazen, a 2011 graduate of Stamford High School, spoke on his former administrator’s behalf.
“Mr. Rinaldi is loved by his students and it would be a mistake to relocate him," he said. "He exceeds expectations and has a drive to pursue perfection. He’s a role model to many and needs to stay at Stamford High.”