BAKER — The principal and assistant principal of Baker Middle School will be transferred to other jobs within the district effectively immediately, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph told the school board Tuesday.
Baker Middle Principal Josie Williams will move to a newly created district wide professional development coordinator position.
Retired East Baton Rouge Parish Principal Mary McManus will serve as interim principal at the middle school.
Baker Middle Assistant Principal Roosevelt Peters will become a coordinator at the alternative center, which serves students who have been expelled from other schools in the district.
Hamilton Brock, who formerly served as principal of the alternative center, will take over as Baker Middle’s assistant principal.
A retired principal from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, Williams served as Baker’s magnet coordinator for a year before becoming principal of the middle school in 2012.
The board voted in favor of the decision, though by state law, superintendents can make personnel changes without school board approval.
Board members Dana Carpenter, Troy Watson and Shona Boxie voted for the changes. Doris Alexander abstained. Elaine Davis was absent from the meeting.
The shifts were made in an attempt to address ongoing problems at the middle school.
“When we are looking at things that are not working, well, we have to try something else,” Joseph said.
Watson took issue with the gender of the interim principal.
“That school needs a male figure. Those kids need someone they can look up to, that can manage them,” she said.
The school system can’t discriminate on the basis of gender when hiring, Joseph answered.
In a related matter, the board voted unanimously to approve reinstating behavior clinics in the school system, though it is unclear whether funding is available for the program.
The school district’s budget is too tight to pay for the clinics, business manager Sidney Stewart said.
Carpenter raised the possibility that money earmarked for in-school suspension was not being utilized and could be used to pay for the Saturday sessions.
Behavior clinics are focused on students who commit relatively minor offenses, such as skipping class or being disrespectful toward teachers, Joseph said.
Watson asked whether programs were in place for students with more serious problems.
Teachers and assistant principals attempt to counsel students who return after being suspended, Joseph said. He also stressed the need for parents and grandparents to be involved.