New principals named to 18 schools in Baton Rouge _lowres

Advocate file photo by Bill Feig -- The halls of Woodlawn High School.

Almost a quarter of the schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system have new principals as they approach the start of the 2014-15 school year in August.

Meanwhile, four more schools, including Belaire and Woodlawn high schools, are still looking for new principals.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor informed the School Board two weeks ago that he’d selected new principals for 18 schools, including Lee and McKinley high schools, Glasgow Middle School, which is home to a large gifted program, and McKinley Middle School, which has a dedicated magnet school.

The principals assume their posts on Tuesday when the new fiscal year starts.

Asked Monday about the status of the four principal vacancies, Keith Bromery, a spokesman for the school system, said the positions will be filled prior to Aug. 11, when school starts.

More than half of the schools in Baton Rouge have changed leaders since Taylor took over as superintendent in June 2012.

In two cases, Taylor has created “super principals,” who will oversee multiple schools.

Taylor announced in early June that Baton Rouge Magnet High School Principal Nan McCann will also run nearby Lee High as it rebuilds its campus on Lee Drive and tries to recruit hundreds of new students. Averil Sanders, Lee High’s principal, was to be reassigned to a new school.

On June 18, Taylor alerted the board that he’d tapped Park Elementary Principal Jessica Brister to take over three elementary schools in addition to Park: Howell Park, Melrose and Merrydale.

The previous leaders of those schools are changing jobs. Melrose Principal Pamela Randall has resigned. Howell Park Principal Myra Jordan is shifting to associate principal at Howell Park and is reporting to Brister. Melrose and Merrydale likewise have new associate principals, Tana Boudreaux and Olga Pack, respectively.

Merrydale Principal Karla Johnson is now principal at Eden Park Superintendent Academy.

Thirteen other Baton Rouge schools have new principals, and there’s some notable shifts in school leadership as a result.

For instance, McKinley Middle’s longtime principal Herman Brister Jr. is moving up to serve as principal of the older children at nearby McKinley High School. Herman Brister Jr., who is married to Jessica Brister, is replacing even longer-serving Armond Brown, who has health problems and has agreed to serve as a “principal on assignment” over the district’s athletics and physical education programs. McKinley High has a large gifted program.

Taking over as McKinley Middle School’s principal is Wiley Brazier. Before taking this promotion, Brazier was an assistant principal at Woodlawn High School.

Glasgow Principal Diane Talbot will take a medical leave for the first semester of the school year and Erin Howard will take her place. Howard has been assistant principal at Southeast Middle.

Taylor has yet to announce new leaders for four other schools.

Woodlawn High School’s Principal Daniel Edwards, who took over in October 2012, is out as principal. The school system posted an advertisement for his replacement June 23.

Similarly, Belaire High School Principal Venesa Myers is no longer principal there after barely a year at that school. The school system posted an advertisement for her replacement Wednesday.

Bromery would not comment on the status of Edwards and Myers.

Meanwhile, both Buchanan and Westdale Heights Academic Magnet, both elementary schools, lost longtime leaders as of June 18. Their principals, Patrice Hudson and Norma Church, respectively, both accepted Central Office promotions. Hudson is now a supervisor of special education and Church is executive director for school leadership. Buchanan has a gifted program and Westdale Heights is a dedicated magnet school.