Update: Carmela Dellino leaving Seattle Public Schools for city job

July 15, 2013 at 8:52 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 28 Comments

8:52 AM: Another West Seattle leadership change for Seattle Public Schools. In addition to six principal changes for the coming school year, all of the district’s West Seattle/South Park principals will have a new supervisor – Carmela Dellino (right) is leaving her job as the Executive Director of Schools for the Southwest Region after one year.

News of this first emerged in an open discussion on the Seattle Schools Community Forum website over the weekend (thanks to the WSB’ers who called that to our attention!); we have just confirmed it with Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Teresa Wippel. She tells WSB that Dellino, who was principal of West Seattle’s Roxhill Elementary School before taking the district management job, announced it in a note to co-workers. Here is an excerpt Wippel shared:

It is with mixed emotions that I send this email to all of you. After much reflection and discussion with my family, I have made the decision to pursue the opportunity to work for the City of Seattle and support the elementary schools that are the Family and Education Levy recipients.

Throughout the last five years I have truly enjoyed working with and learning from you. I feel honored to have worked with such an outstanding group of educators who are dedicated to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps. I experienced a great deal of joy over the last 5 years, serving the children, families, principals, staff, and communities of West Seattle and the southeast region. Additionally, my central office colleagues were always there for me and I am deeply appreciative of the support and guidance I received. Without a doubt, I learned so much from everyone. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with outstanding principals and educational teams in the committed efforts for ALL students’ success. I feel lucky that I can continue to be affiliated with many of you.

Thank you for your support, partnership and dedication to serving our students. I wish each and every one of you the very best.

Dellino’s appointment as this area’s Executive Director was announced almost exactly one year ago. That was one month after her predecessor in the role, Aurora Lora, announced she was leaving, after two years, for a job in Texas. SPS has not yet announced the plan for a replacement (or search for one). In each of the “regions” served by Seattle Public Schools, principals report to an Executive Director; here in what the district considers the Southwest Region, six of the 16 schools are changing principals for next year – Chief Sealth International High School, Madison Middle School, and Alki, Gatewood, Lafayette, and Sanislo Elementary Schools.

ADDED 4:42 PM: We sought more information about Dellino’s new job. We learned from the city that it’s a position as an Elementary School Innovation Consultant for the city’s Office for Education, working with schools that are receiving Innovation funds under the Families and Education Levy, and she’s expected to start in early August; it’s an existing position that became open when someone left recently.

28 Comments

  1. No surprise. It’s a revolving door in SPS. I wish her good luck!

    Comment by Bonnie — 9:00 am July 15, 2013 #

  2. SPS are a complete mess.

    Comment by E — 9:00 am July 15, 2013 #

  3. They shuffle principals around like a deck of cards. With the loss of Dellino and all of the principals who may have advocated for their schools, there goes the SW representation. There must be something seriously wrong with that organization.

    Comment by evergreen — 9:16 am July 15, 2013 #

  4. I hope SPS is able to perform honest exit interviews: this turnover rate just can’t be considered normal. Is it related to pay or to the organizational environment?
    They need to find out and fix high turnover in cases of short tenure (less than two or three years).

    Comment by Dave — 9:24 am July 15, 2013 #

  5. I’m sorry to see her leave public instruction. She was my guidance counselor when I was in 7th grade. That was over 20 years ago. She was kind and gentle and helped me through a really rough patch. She was great for public schools because she really cared about the kids and their experience. She cared about the level of learning they received. I wish her well and am sorry to see her go.

    Comment by BretM — 9:27 am July 15, 2013 #

  6. So who is hiring the new principals needed at Alki and Gatewood? SPS seems to be a total mess, with people in leadership positions leaving so quickly. Hopefully the teachers can weather this storm and continue to give our kids a good education.

    Comment by Mary — 9:55 am July 15, 2013 #

  7. West Seattle schools have experienced a turn-over in leadership positions, with a number of people leaving for greener pastures. That does not mean that the SPS organization is “a total mess”, or that West Seattle schools are in terrible trouble. We have GREAT students. They are the center of our efforts. We have amazing teachers, coaches, counselors, and incredible, heroic, hard-working parent volunteers. We have viable, on-going school programs. We have a vibrant community, and we support our schools. Administrative changes are to be expected, and they will be resolved. We have to look to our school communities, especially to our children, for strength and resolve. We are here. We are committed. We are strong.

    Comment by Jennifer — 10:02 am July 15, 2013 #

  8. Like rats off a sinking ship….

    Comment by happy — 10:37 am July 15, 2013 #

  9. Jennifer, thank you. you are so right. I hope everyone reads your post and remembers these points in the months to come.

    Comment by ummm... — 10:51 am July 15, 2013 #

  10. Good gawd, what a hot mess! My faith in SPS declines even more… what do we have to do to get these people at the District to be held accountable for the disaster they’re making of our schools, especially here in West Seattle? Ridiculous!

    Comment by Cheryl — 11:21 am July 15, 2013 #

  11. Yes. We are committed. We are strong. The kids are amazing, and so are lots of the teachers and other school employees. SPS, as an organization, though: total mess. Pick any administrator, from principal on up. Ask yourself: is this person extremely good at his/her job? If the answer is yes, then chances are he/she will be gone soon. To the extent our kids are thriving, it seems to be despite, not because of, the SPS system. I’m not suggesting, by the way, that our issues are unique. Many other urban school systems in the state and country probably have the same issues. I’m also not blaming any one individual. It’s systemic. Still, let’s be honest. It’s bad.

    Comment by Chris W. — 11:23 am July 15, 2013 #

  12. I for one, was happy with the change at Alki Elementary. Ms. Otis, had one foot out the door the whole time she was there. Which was what? Less than 2 years.

    Comment by Alkigirl — 12:22 pm July 15, 2013 #

  13. All of us in West Seattle are going to miss Carmela’s leadership and strong commitment to the students of our community.
    We wish her the best!
    Ted Reed and Tracy Burrows, PTSA presidents of CSIHS and WSHS.

    Comment by Ted Reed — 12:43 pm July 15, 2013 #

  14. West Seattle Independent School District.

    Seriously.

    How do we make this happen?

    I have tremendous respect for Carmela. She was fantastic. This is a huge loss.

    Comment by HighPointKat — 1:52 pm July 15, 2013 #

  15. Jennifer and Chris W, you are right, the administration/organization is a mess. Banda has a couple of more years to get it together! Carmella was wonderful for our west seattle region, and I’m pretty sure the Gatewood principal left to work closer to where she lives. I wish we could break this giant school district into smaller districts. It would solve a lot of the organization problems.

    Comment by wsparent — 2:08 pm July 15, 2013 #

  16. Carmella is so great! Best of luck to her. Wish she would have stayed on in her SPS role, but sounds like in her new position she will still be working with Roxhill through the Family and Education Levy? I only met the Gatewood Principal a handful of times, but she impressed me as well. As a West Seattle South End family, seems we were in good hands with these two and also AH Principal Christy Collins. I hope their roles can be filled by equally inspired student advocates, and that Ms. Collins never leaves AH.

    Comment by South WS — 2:48 pm July 15, 2013 #

  17. I agree completely. Smaller districts make sense.

    Comment by E — 2:57 pm July 15, 2013 #

  18. I have a hard time understanding the SPS management? I’m from a completely different part of the process. I have attended meetings about the levy and the building/rehab of schools. Everyone should attend at least one of these meetings. It’s truly amazing what is said and how little the school administration seems to know about what is happening with schools. Nothing will change if we don’t get involved.

    Comment by Trying! — 4:15 pm July 15, 2013 #

  19. Buona Fortuna, Carmela!

    Comment by Melinda — 4:46 pm July 15, 2013 #

  20. Another vote for WSISD (West Seattle Independent School District) and my very best wishes to Carmela. I loved that she would always respond with a real e-mail (not just a “thanks for your input standard reply) and always appreciated that she truly understood the “West Seattle Situation”

    Comment by Mama3boys — 5:23 pm July 15, 2013 #

  21. Carmela is a real gem. Wish her the best!

    Comment by i'mcoveredinbees — 6:02 pm July 15, 2013 #

  22. Darn it! Carmella was an asset to West Seattle. She genuinely listened, cared, and acted on concerns. She will be greatly missed. The turnover creates immense turmoil in SPS.

    I agree with Trying! SPS meetings are enlightening in the sense that the dysfunction and charades are nothing short of shocking and incomprehensible. I always considered Carmella to be a delightful exception to that rule. Darn it!

    Comment by Heidi A — 7:26 pm July 15, 2013 #

  23. I’ve posted this comment before and I’ll post it again with a more specific focus…. How does Seattle Public Schools plan on supporting ALL the new principals in West Seattle let alone a new regional director?

    Every school in West Seattle with a new principal change EXCEPT for Madison has been given a voice in the process. Why 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 not 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?

    Comment by ILoveWestSeattle — 7:34 pm July 15, 2013 #

  24. I couldn’t agree more with the comments re: what an assest Carmella was to the SW district.

    Now I have some questions for Seattle Public Schools:

    -How does Seattle Public Schools plan on supporting ALL the new principals in West Seattle let alone a new regional director?

    My specific concerns are in regards to the leadership change at Madison. Madison needs a leader with Middle school experience. At the very least with SUCCESSFUL leadership experience at the comprehensive secondary school level. Co-principal at Rainier Beach HS and at Inter Agency HS-a triage placement for students who require Behavior Modification education before re-entering mainstream is NOT the same.

    -How will the new regional director ensure proper mentoring and guidance while also holding Dr Gary accountable as an interim principal? Keep in mind SPS NEVER asked the staff, families or community to participate in who would be, our 2nd interim principal.

    -How and when will the families and staff have a voice in his leadership? The last interim principal was permanently placed without soliciting feedback, and when the SW regional director was provided very serious and legitimate concerns about said leadership by a large number of staff members the concerns were disregarded and the staff was told the official placement had already been made.

    Comment by ILoveWestSeattle — 7:48 pm July 15, 2013 #

  25. Carmela was amazing and will be truly missed! When the District’s HR Director was at Lafayette explaining the process for replacing our last principal, I raised the concern about the turn-over at the District. I asked the HR Director how the District manages succession planning, he acted as if he had no idea what I was referring to! There are serious issues with the culture and internal processes at the District.

    Comment by WS Mom — 8:42 pm July 15, 2013 #

  26. What bureaucracy – I didn’t know that SPS had regional directors. Interesting that many of the commenters here have engaged with this one of the SW Region – Why??? What can a regional director answer that a principal or teacher can not? I’d rather see the money spent on music and art teachers.

    Comment by DaveS — 1:18 am July 16, 2013 #

  27. Just another reason why I support Charter Schools.

    Comment by Marty — 8:24 am July 16, 2013 #

  28. Here’s the one red flag I see: “Additionally, my central office colleagues were always there for me and I am deeply appreciative of the support and guidance I received.” As anyone involved with SPS at the district level knows, Central Office jobs are career stepping stones. The more ingrained she became with those folks, the closer her feet got to the door. Our schools do an amazing job despite the cluster#$#@ at JSCEE. I pray SI Banda has what it takes to right that wayward ship.

    Comment by wseadawg — 4:43 pm July 18, 2013 #

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