After months of work, the principal of Howard Middle School in Atlanta is stepping down


When classes started in August, parents complained about the school’s dress code enforcement, particularly the way girls were treated. Parents also expressed concern about large class sizes due to teacher vacancies and the way the school grouped gifted students separately from other students.

ExploreParents meet with APS to address concerns about Howard Middle School

District officials and McDowell met with about 100 parents about two weeks ago to discuss these and other concerns. An AJC reporter was banned by the school district from attending the meeting. The district later released a video recording of the meeting, in which McDowell pledged to provide parents with answers to their questions.

“What’s happening is real, the way you’re experiencing it is real, what everyone else is feeling is real, but I can only control what I can control,” she said, according to the registration.

McDowell previously ran a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Cleveland, Ohio, and is described on Howard’s website as a “school turnaround specialist.” And as a consultant, she has trained other principals in leadership skills.

ExploreHoward Middle School, home to MLK Jr., reopens after $52 million renovation

More than 1,100 students attended Howard last October. The college feeds Midtown High School, formerly known as Grady, which is one of the top performing high schools in Atlanta.

In his message to parents, Herring said two interim principals would step in to lead Howard. Paula Snowden will be acting director from Wednesday. Barbara Shea will take over as interim director on Monday.

“Dr. Snowden and Ms. Shea are true champions for all students and staff. They will serve as interim principals until May 30, 2023, as APS leads our process to find and hire a leader. of permanent establishment,” Herring wrote.

Howard’s parent-teacher organization is committed to supporting faculty, staff, students and the school community, group co-chair Susanna Roberts told AJC.

“We will continue to work with administration, teachers and parents to ensure that all needs are met to the best of our abilities. We look forward to continuing our support of our wonderful college and the entire David T. Howard community,” Roberts said.

Here is the full text of the message APS Superintendent Lisa Herring sent regarding the departure of David T. Howard Middle School Principal Janet McDowell:

Dear Parents/Guardians of David T. Howard Middle School: I am writing to inform you that Principal Janet McDowell’s final day at David T. Howard Middle School will be today, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. APS thanks Ms. McDowell for her hard work. hard work and dedication and wish him good luck in his future endeavours.

Due to the timing of this leadership transition, we will be providing the school community with additional support in the form of two acting principals, as well as a program administrator to address day-to-day school operational concerns such as scheduling.

Dr. Paula Snowden will begin serving as Acting Director tomorrow, Wednesday, September 14, and Ms. Barbara Shea will begin serving as Acting Director on Monday, September 19.

Dr. Snowden has served as a teacher, vice principal, and principal in high school and middle school, most recently as acting principal at Howard Middle School, and has over 40 years of experience in APS. Ms. Shea has been an award-winning special education teacher, behavioral specialist, middle school vice-principal and acting principal, and has over 40 years of experience, the majority of which has been in APS.

Dr. Snowden and Ms. Shea are true champions for all students and staff. They will serve as interim principals until May 30, 2023, as APS leads our process of finding and hiring a permanent headteacher. We will be hosting a meet and greet at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20 at the Howard Auditorium for parents and community members to meet Dr. Snowden and Mrs. Shea.

I want to assure you that Atlanta Public Schools is committed to the success of David T. Howard Middle School, our scholars, and our staff. We will begin a thorough search for a new headteacher. The main extension will be displayed immediately. Our Human Resources department will work closely with the Go team to begin the selection process for the permanent principal of Howard Middle School.

I know you may be wondering about the reason for a leadership transition at the start of the school year. I am not free to discuss confidential personal matters at this time. However, if you have any other questions or concerns, I invite you to contact my office.

Thank you for your continued support of David T. Howard Middle School.

Sincerely, Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent


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