Scroggs to lead Chapel Hill High

I admit I don't know much about the inner workings of our schools (just wait about 6 years), but it sure seems like the Chapel Hill-Carboro City Schools have had a hard time keeping principals around in the last few years. This just in from Stephanie Knott, Assistant to the Superintendent for Community Relations:

Former Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Steve Scroggs was appointed interim principal of Chapel Hill High School following a closed session held by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education Tuesday afternoon.

Scroggs will finish out the school year until a permanent replacement is selected.  The principalship is vacant as a result of the resignation of Jacqueline Boyd Ellis.  Ellis will leave Chapel Hill High March 20 to become the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Durham Public Schools.  Scroggs and Ellis will work collaboratively from Monday, March 9, through Friday, March 20.

Scroggs served as the Assistant Superintendent for Support Services from 2000 through May 2008. He was the principal of McDougle Elementary prior to that. He was a principal and assistant principal in Kinston before coming to Chapel Hill.  He holds a bachelor of science degree from Appalachian State University and a master's degree in education from East Carolina University.

Superintendent Neil Pedersen said, "Mr. Scroggs is an outstanding leader who will provide the support and direction that Chapel Hill High School needs to complete its year successfully."

It's a tangled web...



The appointment of Steve Scroggs should come as no surprise. District head Neil Pedersen has said that he wanted an interim principal to focus on the school rather than on a permanent hiring process. Scroggs, a long-time system administrator fits the bill perfectly. Ruby, you are also right that CHHS's top job has seen a higher-than-desired turnover rate as of late. Pedersen told us that a principal needs to be in office for at least three years to make any real and lasting change. Our story on the search can be found here:

Congratulations and thanks to Steve Scroggs for filling in.  I am confident he will handle the situation with grace and skill.

Mark is correct in labeling this as a "situation" -- I've been sensing big problems at Chapel Hill High for quite a while.  The high turnover of principals is only one symptom.  I don't know many high school students, but I've never met any who like CHHS.  Purely from a community standpoint, this is troublesome.  I wish there was a way for "us" to help that school dust itself off.  There was a time when Chapel Hill High was fairly prestigious. 

Not sure how you define "like," but I know a good number of former and current students who think very positively about their school and the education they got or are getting.  High turnover is a symptom, but of which "big problems?"  When you talk to the various stakeholders you get different views of what the big problems are.  Now that there are three high schools, the comparative reference is much different than when CHHS was the only HS.  Whatever the factors are that cause people to leave the CHHS principal job so frequently, there are still students/parents "like" their school.

Well, Fred, I did say I know very few HS students.  But in this group I include young graduates of Chapel Hill High who've told me they were miserable there.  I'm glad to hear your informal survey results in a different impression.  If I had kids, I'd know a whole lot more about the inner workings of our schools; I do know it's extremely difficult (impossible) for a non-parent to get in that loop.  Ms. Ellis resigned rather abruptly -- that alone constitutes a "situation." 

I don't think that I have read in the press how long she was in discussions with the Durham Superintendent about her new job, but I would bet that the discussions took some time.  Thus, I'm not really sure it was all that abrupt - except for people learning about her resignation for a new job and not from a drawn out leak.

HS or middle school leaders resigning in the middle of the year is abrupt and usually breaks their contract.

If that's the context Catherine intended, then yes, it's "abrupt." Are you sure about the contract statement?  My "abrupt" would be after a really bad week or two, you call the Superintendent and say, "I QUIT!"

I am assumming they had her under contract as this is common in school systems. The school system would have to let someone out of the contract unless there was an exit clause for say a better job.

You can't keep someone at a job they don't want.  

Never said they should, just pointing out that school systems usually have teachers and administers under a contract and that those contracts do not end in the middle of a semester unless there are reasons. I expect the School Board had to approve the departure via close session of course. There could be a buy out clause just as we see in the sport world.

I'm a bit concerned about stirring up some hornets, but I'm wondering what it is, specifically, about the atmosphere and situation at CHHS that causes students to report that they're "miserable" and principals to take off in mid-year.  Is it tension among student sub-groups?  Drugs and substance abuse?  Burned out teachers?  Uninspired teachers? Over-crowding? Poor facilities?  Poor morale?  Parent non-involvement?   Parent over-involvement? Teacher-administrator tension?Some people seem to assume the administration is the cause of problems; others seem to assume administrators are overwhelmed victims.  Hard to know if you don't have a child actually in the school, and maybe not even then. My son went to CHHS a decade ago.  He reported racial tension (and not just student-to-student) and some drug-related problems, but it didn't sound like the sort of thing that would account for the turnover in administration.  He had some legitimate gripes about certain courses and/or personnel; but I wouldn't say he was more "miserable" than the average school-attending teen.   Some kids hate school no matter what it's like, unless it's utterly Disney-fied; and some kids would NEVER admit to being anything but miserable in high school because it just wouldn't be cool to say so.

Fred interpreted my comment correctly vis a vis "abrupt."  I'd use the same term to describe Anyone who resigned from a job in the middle of a semester, a contract, or a project.  Obviously Ms. Ellis's decision did not suddenly occur to her; she lined up her next job prior to resigning.  But why had she put out feelers?  Something's bad wrong up there. (One of my favorite quotes of all time is Dr. John explaining why his band broke up:  "Eccentricisms that could not be rectified.")   Priscilla, as I said yesterday: I don't have kids in school so I can't elaborate on the problems at CHHS I merely sense.  Perhaps it's the facility, forty years old (?) and dysfunctional; perhaps it's the culture clash your son described; maybe the teachers are burned out.  I don't know.  I do know that most youngsters today express a certain amount of malcontentedness no matter what school they attend... so you've got me there.  

What I have heard is that there is a very experienced, strong-willed, and  independent faculty there which requires very strong leadership.  They're good, but they are accustomed to being at the table when decisions are made and they are willing to be vocal about their opinions, and sometimes even willing to say NO and challenge authority.   Many of them have been there a long time and they are heavily invested in the school culture.  That's not a bad thing--in fact it can be a very good thing--- but it requires a certain kind of leadership skill set and I think many principals just aren't used to that. really hope that once his health issues get better he gets back into teaching some.   


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