The principal at a North Raleigh school who has faced criticism from parents about her leadership style is leaving the school for a job in the Wake County school system’s central office.
April Hill, who has led Lead Mine Elementary for the past year, sent an email to parents Friday morning saying she will become a senior administrator.
“Although I have mixed emotions about leaving, I know that this is an opportunity that will be an asset to my experiences and beneficial to my professional growth,” Hill wrote.
Parents have voiced concerns about Hill for months, and some signed an online petition in April to air their complaints. The petition said Hill has fostered an “unprofessional” environment at Lead Mine.
It also said parents were worried about students’ safety and quality of education.
Kenneth Branch, a former Wake County schools principal, will take over as interim principal at Lead Mine. Amid complaints from parents, the school board appointed Branch in May to serve as Lead Mine’s interim lead principal through the end of the school year.
Hill’s last day at the school will be June 10. She has not spoken publicly about the complaints, and she could not be reached for comment Friday.
Lead Mine parent Jenny Halasz said she was happy to learn of Hill’s departure, but she questioned the decision to move Hill to the central office.
“She was not very good in a managerial position, so to see her moved into a senior level position gives me concerns she may be that way in that position too,” Halasz said.
The school board did not have to approve Hill’s move to become an administrator in student assignment because it was an administrative transfer, said Wake County schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten.
Parent Tracy Roy said she hopes the school board will be more responsive to complaints in the future. Throughout the school year, parents requested meetings with school officials to discuss Hill, but those requests were denied or ignored, she said.
“I think we’re all relieved that there’s been closure, especially before the year ends so we don’t go into summer wondering,” Roy said.
Hill was appointed principal of Lead Mine Elementary, a school with nearly 600 students, in June 2014. She had previously spent two years as principal of Carpenter Elementary in Cary.
Under Hill’s leadership at Carpenter, 32 percent of teachers said they felt 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.
Teacher surveys for Lead Mine Elementary during Hill’s tenure aren’t yet available.
April Hill’s email to parents
Lead Mine Elementary School principal April Hill sent an email to parents Friday morning announcing her departure.
“Dear Staff and Parents,
It has been a pleasure to serve as your principal over this current school year. I have enjoyed working closely with you. So many of you have fully supported me over this past year and I really appreciate it! Thank you for taking the time to know me and allowing me to get to know you.
As we bring closure to this year, I write to let you know that I applied for and sought out an opportunity to work as a Senior Administrator within Wake County Public School System. Recently, I was informed that I was offered the position. Although, I have mixed emotions about leaving, I know that this is an opportunity that will be an asset to my experiences and beneficial to my professional growth.
It has been my purpose and intent to work with parents and teachers so that this is a great year for students. In this short time, it has been a wonderful experience to build relationships with the students and each of them will be greatly missed. I look forward to sharing hugs, high fives, and smiles with all students on Monday, June 8, our last day of school. I plan to also spread my warm appreciation with parents and staff.
Wednesday, June 10 will be my last day on Lead Mine’s campus. However, Lead Mine is fortunate to have Dr. Kenneth Branch to continue as the interim principal until the next principal is appointed. Dr. Branch, Katie Demcio, and all members of the staff will be able to reach out to me if I’m needed prior to the appointment of the new principal. We will work closely to make this a smooth transition.
Again, I thank you for your support! I look forward to what the future holds for me and for Lead Mine Elementary.
All the best,