The Wake County school board has appointed a second principal for Lead Mine Elementary School amid parents’ complaints about leadership at the North Raleigh school.
Kenneth Branch will serve as Lead Mine’s interim lead principal for the rest of the school year to provide “administrative support” to current principal April Hill.
Branch retired in 2012 as principal of Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh after being named Wake’s Principal of the Year.
Bringing Branch into the school is a temporary solution to keep students, parents and staff focused on finishing the academic year strong, school administrators said.
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Some parents want the school system to remove Hill from Lead Mine. More than 80 people have signed an online petition on change.org, which asks for Hill’s ouster and for school administrators to meet with parents.
Parents are concerned about an “unprofessional” environment at the school, according to the petition, and also the number of teachers who plan to leave the school.
“I think we are hopeful that we can end on a good note,” said Lead Mine parent Tracy Roy. “We need strong leadership, and I think that’s what we need to get us through the last few weeks.”
A second principal at the school is not a reflection of Hill’s ability, said Wake County schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten. Administrators are working with Hill to address parents’ concerns.
Hill did not return a phone call. Branch referred questions to a spokesman for the school system.
It’s highly unusual for a school to have both a lead principal and a regular principal.
Hill was appointed principal of Lead Mine Elementary, a school with nearly 600 students, in June 2014, after spending two years as principal of Carpenter Elementary School in Cary.
She took the place of Gary Baird, who was principal at Lead Mine for 10 years.
Under Hill’s leadership at Carpenter Elementary, 32 percent of teachers said they felt like there was an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect at the school, according to a 2014 teacher working conditions survey administered by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Across Wake County public schools, 71 percent of teachers said the same of their schools.
At Carpenter, 27 percent of teachers said they felt comfortable raising issues and concerns, compared to 69 percent of teachers across the district.
Carpenter Elementary had relatively high staff turnover rates under Hill’s leadership, state report cards show.
In the 2012-13 school year, Hill’s first year as principal, staff turnover at Carpenter was at 24 percent. Meanwhile, the Wake district had an 11 percent turnover rate.
At Lead Mine, Branch will receive a salary that, over a full year, would be equivalent to $71,681.
Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.