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Lincoln High Now Has Two Principals

 June 10, 2021 at 12:21 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Lincoln high school has been the center of much back and forth between a city council member and a district board member. Recently, one of the topics of debate leadership turnover at the Southeastern San Diego school. Now the high school has a new principal joining me to discuss the latest is will hunt Berry education reporter with the voice of San Diego. Welcome. Speaker 2: 00:20 Well, nice to be here, Jay. So Speaker 1: 00:22 First give us some context. Uh, Lincoln high has been the subject of much debate through the years. Why has Lincoln been in the spotlight? Uh, quite a bit over the past few decades, Speaker 3: 00:31 Lincoln high school has a very engaged community and it has historical importance in San Diego. You know, it's a real cornerstone of the black community. Community leaders have come from their professional athletes have come from there. So people really care about how it's doing. And since it reopened in 2007, after a rebuild, there's been a fair amount of instability there in, in leadership. And there have not been the academic gains that people have wanted to see. And so a lot of people have had a lot to say about that. The interim superintendent Speaker 1: 01:09 Of San Diego unified named a new principal for Lincoln high on Tuesday. Uh, but the principal won't replace the current one. How will that work? Speaker 3: 01:17 Yes, that's right. There's a new co-principal coming in. Uh, Melissa [inaudible], she's coming from the met, which has about a hundred students. Lincoln high has, uh, 1400 students. So it's going to be a much bigger assignment for her. Um, and it seems that her and Stephanie Brown per current co-principal or principal, however you want to say it they'll steer the school together. And that's what was happening previously with Jennifer Roberson. Her title was director and she was leading the school with Stephanie Brown previous, you know, the co-principal Speaker 1: 01:52 Position is basically replacing the previous director of the school. As you mentioned, how did that vacancy come about? Well, Speaker 3: 01:59 Before Jennifer Roberson was ever reassigned, people were talking about bringing in a co-principal to Lincoln, actually, you know, it had been discussed with some community members and then Roberson was suddenly out. We don't really know why we, of course, that voice of San Diego reported on that. The district essentially told us that there's no turmoil at Lincoln. Jennifer Roberson has been reassigned, but she maintains the same title. We've also been talking about having a co-principal. How long has Speaker 1: 02:34 The current principal Stephanie Brown been at the high school? And is she seen as being an effective leader of the school? Speaker 3: 02:40 Stephanie Brown's been there about two years and it depends who you ask. Um, whether she's seen as being an effective leader of the school, really, you know, I talked to several different staff members at Lincoln who told me that Jennifer Rogerson was in charge 10th, 11th, and 12th grade at Lincoln specifically. And that was because she had more experience than Stephanie Brown and knew more about running a high school. And so when she left those staff members told me it left a big, uh, vacuum in leadership there. And they were never explained to, um, why she left in the first place. But, you know, if you talk to the district, they are big boosters of Stephanie Brown and say, she's doing a great job. Sharon White pain is the board of education member who represents that area. As you know, of course, there's been this letter war going on between her and council, woman, Monica Montgomery step. So a Montgomery step asked a lot of questions about what's going on at Lincoln. My community members tell me there are a lot of problems there. And, uh, Sharon White pain responded with a really soothing letter saying, you know, how dare you throw any shade at Lincoln? Stephanie Brown is an exquisite leader. In that letter. Speaker 1: 04:01 You mentioned city council member, Monica Montgomery step asks that the community have more input on choosing leadership for the school. Do you have any sense of why? And if that had any role in this new position, Speaker 3: 04:14 I don't think that's what had a role in this new position. I think the council woman was aware that there were talks to bring a co-principal in and she was asking for there to be a more, um, rubbed, blessed and transparent community process for making that happen. And, you know, I think in general, that's what the council woman asked for. In regards to Lincoln, she asked for more transparency about the leadership turmoil that's gone on there in recent years. And she talked about how many people in the community don't trust the district, to be honest with them about what's happening at the school. And I'll be honest with you, Jay. That's been my experience too, in reporting on Lincoln. I talked to passionate community members, many of them, and there's just a deep lack of trust between them and the district. Hmm. How has the district responded to all this? Speaker 3: 05:11 The district responded to Monica Montgomery step's letter of first Sharon White Payne said it was disingenuous in a interview on K USI. Um, but then several days later she wrote a letter that really amped up the rhetoric. Um, she compared Montgomery step's letter to an event in which a Catholic high school had called Lincoln high students convicts. And so there was an uproar over that, an event, most people considered it, a really racist thing that these private school students did. And what Sharon White hears Payne said to Monica Montgomery step is by asking us the questions you asked and by telling us that the district is doing bad job leading Lincoln high school, you're being the same as those private school students work. The council woman responded to that. And, um, she said that, you know, this, this has always been the district's tack in the community of Lincoln Heights to respond to any criticism or any questions by, by telling the person, asking the questions that they don't know what they're talking about. You know, and I Speaker 1: 06:23 Guess, uh, the important question too is, um, currently, what do we know about how the students at Lincoln high are doing as a whole, in terms of academic achievement? Speaker 3: 06:33 Yes. Uh, the council woman asked about that too. And, um, you know, there's so much data when it comes to academics. It, it kind of depends where you look, but I'll tell you in sharing why hers Payne's letter, she pointed to, um, college and career readiness for black students. And she talked about how great a principal Stephanie Brown was. And then in the next sentence about how college career readiness had gone up, well, those gains actually happened the year before Stephanie Brown became principal and Afric African-American student, um, college and career readiness went down by point under Stephanie Brown. And if we can take an even wider view from beyond Stephanie Brown's time, uh, if we look back five or six years in English and math test scores, uh, they basically remain unchanged, uh, to this day with about 36% doing, uh, scoring proficiently in reading and about 10% scoring proficiently in math at Lincoln high school. Speaker 1: 07:38 And as you continue to cover Lincoln high school, what will you be keeping your eye Speaker 3: 07:41 On? I'll be real interested to know, to see whether the district addresses people's concerns about instability in the leadership. The council woman has brought that up and the district has essentially said, how dare you ask us about these personnel issues? There is no instability. And I think people aren't going to stop talking about the leadership changes and, and just to, I mean, break a little news right here for your on KPBS. Uh, a vice principal at this school in recent weeks has also resigned. I confirmed earlier this morning. So I think the district calls any criticism of this instability, uh, disingenuous, and, you know, I think that's a bold criticism against Monica Montgomery step who has a ton of grassroots support in that community. And so as these concerns keep getting pushed, I'll be curious to see if the district addresses them. Okay. I've been Speaker 1: 08:40 Speaking to will hunts Barre education reporter for the voice of San Diego will. Thank you very much for your insight. Thanks so much, Jay.

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San Diego Unified School District announced on Tuesday a new principal for the school. Melissa Agudelo will serve as co-principal with the current principal, Stephanie Brown.
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