6th principal change for West Seattle public schools: Alki Elementary

More principal news from Seattle Public Schools this afternoon. Earlier we published word that Gatewood Elementary‘s principal has been reassigned; now, the district sends word that Alki Elementary‘s principal has a new job too. Families are receiving this note:

Today I’m announcing a leadership change at Alki Elementary School for the next school year. Your principal, Ms. Chanda E. Oatis, has been appointed principal at Van Asselt Elementary School effective for the 2013-2014 school year.

Ms. Carmela Dellino, Executive Director for K-12 schools in West Seattle, will lead the process to identify a new principal for Alki. We will move quickly to form a hiring committee, and will keep you informed of the process. We are committed to finding a strong principal who will be a great fit for your community and who can build on Alki’s successes.

I appreciate the outstanding leadership that Ms. Oatis brought to Alki Elementary the past two years which has led to impressive gains in literacy, math and science achievement. And I appreciate the dedication of Alki families and staff to student success and to creating a positive and enriching learning environment at your school.

Please join me in thanking Ms. Oatis for her years at Alki Elementary.

José Banda

She’s the 6th West Seattle public school principal whose departure has been announced since April (see the list at the end of our earlier Gatewood story).

23 Replies to "6th principal change for West Seattle public schools: Alki Elementary"

  • Mary July 3, 2013 (2:11 pm)

    What is going on? This letter is almost exactly the same as the one about Gatewood. Why are all the principals being reassigned? What about continuity for the schools? Every time I start to think maybe I’m overreacting about SPS, they do something like this again.

  • N.A. Neighbor July 3, 2013 (2:11 pm)

    Wow. What in the world is going on around here?! And, why do Alki and Gatewood get to start a hiring process looking for a principal when Madison has an interim principal “placed”?!

  • yumpears July 3, 2013 (2:21 pm)

    Ms. Oatis was originally an interim placed at Alki. After community input they made her principal in spring of 2012.

    Just because Madison has an interim first doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to have input. And just because the community gives input and wants to keep the principal doesn’t mean that will happen either.

    Frankly I’m more than a little tired of the revolving door at Alki. My fifth grader will start the year with his fourth principal.

  • hipster! July 3, 2013 (2:30 pm)

    It does seem the principals from the “achieving” schools are being pulled to other schools that are “underachieving” to get them to a place where they hopefully become “achieving” schools. I can understand the logic, but it makes me concerned as a parent, for the continuity of the school community.

  • Community Member July 3, 2013 (3:33 pm)

    Congratulations Ms. Oatis.

  • RG July 3, 2013 (3:35 pm)

    And once again it’ll be the Alki teachers who keep the school together through yet another leadership change.
    The Alki teachers are the reason why the school succeeds. They have a passion for teaching. They know what the word ‘success’ REALLY means for each student individually.

  • Sara M July 3, 2013 (7:39 pm)

    My mother is an elementary school teacher and she has gone through 6 principals in 18 years of working at the same school. It seems that it is a very common practice to shift principals around schools to see different approaches and to keep things fresh. I’m putting this nicely… my mother has had some great principals (and horrible ones)and it is always a hassle to see them go.

  • diane July 3, 2013 (7:41 pm)

    I am now finally becoming disenchanted with the Seattle Public Schools. I have a 4th grader at Alki and we really liked this principal. Will the revolving door please stop! This is getting to be ridiculous. No wonder people who can, go to private schools where they maintain stability and excellence!

    • WSB July 3, 2013 (7:49 pm)

      Not to challenge your concern – we are a Seattle Public Schools family too and one of these principal changes affects us directly – but regarding principals, private schools have had changes too; two of the three local Catholic schools have new or interim principals for next year, for example. Seattle Lutheran High School and Westside School [sponsor] have principals who just finished their first year. There may be others, but we don’t always get word of those changes, since unlike SPS, independent schools don’t always have a fixed policy for getting word to the media. I do need to find out who are the longest-running principals around here, since as someone semi-jokingly said in the Facebook comment thread on one of today’s stories, it might be time to just report who’s NOT leaving … TR

  • brg buddy July 3, 2013 (7:51 pm)

    Why doesn’t SPS just make it a standard procedure to move all school principals every other year… that way parents, teachers, students, etc. can at least know what to expect. SPS should just admit they can NOT fulfill their mission statement and stop trying to convince people they know what is best and they know how to make it happen. Why does SPS continue to pretend they have a vision and plan for the district that extends beyond one year at a time? (“pretend” means to make believe with the intent to deceive or to give a false appearance.)

  • Exasperated July 3, 2013 (8:44 pm)

    This Fall, I will begin my 24th year of teaching….. And I will start working with my 20th Principal…..

  • Jaime July 3, 2013 (9:22 pm)

    we gotcha beat at lafayette we’ll have our 6th principal in 3 years for the 2013-14 school year.

  • pjmanley July 3, 2013 (9:58 pm)

    Constant churn will be couched in phrases like “change is good” and “dynamic,” etc, while keeping something that works intact will be characterized as “defending the status quo” or “selfish” or “entitled” or my personal favorite, “exclusive.” Seattle Public Schools – 101.

  • Sailor July 3, 2013 (10:02 pm)

    Jamie- Actually, it will be Lafayette’s 7th principal in 3 years…. ridiculous.

  • Alki dad July 3, 2013 (10:51 pm)

    From what i hear and saw i dont think it will be much of a loss. Maybe some of the teachers leaving or were forced out will come back since they were awesome

  • Sympathetic July 3, 2013 (11:09 pm)

    I sympathize with Seattle public school families and all the principal changes. Having consistent staffing is a huge part of a school’s success. Speaking to the point someone made regarding staffing in private schools, four years ago our local private school underwent a period of two years where we had one different interim principal each year while they looked to hire a permanent one, and it was tough for parents and students. Since hiring our current principal several years ago the positive energy, strong leadership and consistency in staffing has been a huge part of our growth as a school and community. She is an amazing principal. Private schools do have staffing challenges that can sometimes cause discord among students and parents; we just aren’t big enough to make the news. Hoping that they find a great principal for Alki, a school I have hear great things about.

  • Seaview July 4, 2013 (8:49 am)

    I’m so tired of the “I love alki” and “I’m committed to alki” baloney the principals say while probably just having sent their résumé out. 2 years isnt long enough to show progress at a school- she is riding the coat tails of hard working parents and teachers, a strong PTA. My hope for alki is that we get a principal that wants to stay for a long time (5 + years would be nice).

  • DRW July 4, 2013 (9:21 am)

    Alki has had quite a few different principals over the past seven years I’ve lived here and I’ve heard it was like this prior to my move here.

    Two years seems to be the limit for a principal at this school. Is there a good reason for this?

  • rclan July 4, 2013 (1:42 pm)

    Alki ES is an excellent school and is very fortunate to have a strong, committed PTA and supportive families. The teachers are a big part of the school’s success. Ms. Oatis is a fine principal who was put into a difficult situation.

    Unfortunately for her, she followed an incredibly well respected and liked principal, Clover Codd. She came into an environment which wasn’t terribly welcoming or supportive. She faced a lot of drama within the staff. She tried hard to make it work but I don’t blame her if she wanted to leave or if SPS moved her. They were likely tired of hearing the silly complaints. Conversely, I know that many parents will be sad to see her go.

    It’s a shame when a small, closeknit school achieving academically becomes a place where principals are churned in and out. In the end though – Alki will still be strong and I will continue to be happy to send my child there. Best wishes to Ms. Oatis in her next challenge.

  • Alki Parent July 4, 2013 (1:43 pm)

    I’m so sad to see Ms. Oatis go!! She was one of the best principals Alki has had!! Both of my kids went there grade 1-5. It’s hard to tell whether these changes are principal driven or SPS driven. I have a sneaking suspicion that it is SPS just from the way I see community center staff being shifted around (…I know not related, but seems to be a “city” trend). Best wishes to Ms. Oatis in her new position!

  • Carraig na Splinkeen July 7, 2013 (7:00 pm)

    Well, with all the principal changes over the years, how could the success of Alki be attributed to anyone but the teachers?
    It is a great school. Cheers to the teachers and thanks for navigating the rough waters the school district’s leadership has set before you.

  • diane July 9, 2013 (9:55 pm)

    I was lucky to have an amazing math teacher in high school which became it’s Vice Principal and then Principal not long after I graduated in 1984. Ms. Swift is still a very strong Principal at Holy Names Academy! I think a 5 year commitment would be a good timeframe for SPS staff

  • ILoveWestSeattle July 15, 2013 (7:18 pm)

    Every school in West Seattle with a new principal change EXCEPT for Madison has been given a voice in the process. Why are the Madison staff, families and communities no receiving the same respect.

    A large majority of teachers signed a petition and sent it to the SPS board and Marty McLaren and no response has been issued. The PTSA has also written a letter inquiring about the lack of input for our 2nd consecutive ‘interim’ principal and no response has been issued that I have heard.

    Now lets talk the interim process and how there was ZERO process for the last interim principal and very serious concerns were to SPS re: his performance and nothing was taken into consideration. When the staff finally got a sit down the SW regional director at the time they were informed that the permanent placement had already be decided with out ANY feedback from staff or families. Now, this upcoming school year Madison has a new interim principal who has been co-principal at a triage highschool for students who have been suspended or expelled and require Behavior Modification education. The interim has only a 1-2 years of adminstration experience in a large comprehensive secondary school and now Carmella Delino has a new job.

    Brass tax: as a member of the Madison community with over 9years personally invested in the school I want to know:
    1. How will the interim process be different from last time?
    2. What is SPS plan for reviewing performance?
    3. With 5 new principals and a new regional directer what plan does SPS have for supporting Madison since we are the ONLY school that has not had a voice in this principal placement?

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