‘Consistently failing’ Richmond school to get new principal

Posted at 10:05 PM, Feb 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-11 00:47:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. (wtvr)--A new building isn't the only transformation taking place at one of Richmond’s worst performing schools.

“We are in a sense of emergency, not a sense of urgency,” says Richmond Public School Board Member, Shonda Harris-Muhammed.

She confirmed that principal at Martin Luther King Middle School, Dr. Valerie Harris, is retiring.

The school's new leader, currently the principal at Thompson Middle School, will start at MLK next week.

“When you have schools that are consistently failing at a rate that our schools are failing, we have to come in and make some immediate changes,” says Harris-Muhammed.

The school has seen some of the worst test scores in the entire state over the last three years and this change also comes one week after CBS 6 told you about the high turnover rate at MLK, with eight-percent of the teachers leaving so far this year.

It’s not just teachers leaving. Felicia Delaney almost took her son out of MLK, but with this change ahead, she's reconsidering.

“You have to start from the top. If there's a problem, you have to start from the top and work your way down,” says Delaney.

Harris-Muhammed says the district is working its way down. She met with the entire staff at MLK Monday and talked about improving morale, and taking immediate action to address concerns regarding student discipline and teachers frequently calling out sick.

“We are not playing anymore. Growth needs to happen in this building or some people will not be returning in August,” says Harris-Muhammed.

Harris-Muhammed tells CBS 6, the district is reassessing the principals, administrators and teachers throughout the school system.