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Shenandoah County Public Schools to see multiple administration changes

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Effective July 1, seven Shenandoah County Public Schools administrators will take on their current positions at different schools throughout the division, according to Superintendent B. Keith Rowland.

Rowland sent an email out to the school district's faculty last week, informing them of the changes.

"We're trying to enhance the development of our leadership team," he said Tuesday. "We want to give our staff opportunities to grow in other areas, instead of remaining stagnant in one position. As a school district it's our responsibility to grow our administrators."

Rowland said he couldn't release information on any particular reason the changes are being made, because they are "personnel matters."

Chris Cook, principal at Central High School since 2008, will assume the same position at Signal Knob Middle School. Missy Hensley, the middle school's principal since 2007, will transfer to Central.

Both assistant principals at Central will be reassigned as well. Holly Sheffield will go to Peter Muhlenburg Middle School and Connie Pangle will transfer to W.W. Robinson Elementary School.

Morgan Saeler, assistant principal at Stonewall Jackson High School and Heath Johnston of the same title at Peter Muhlenburg Middle School, will fill the assistant principal roles at Central.

Scott Schletner, assistant principal at W.W. Robinson Elementary will take on the same role, but at Stonewall Jackson High. Rowland said Schletner had experience at the high school level prior to coming to Shenandoah County.

The administrators will receive orientation and training before the start of the school year this fall, Rowland said.

The changes were discussed at the last school board meeting on June 19, and Rowland said members were "on board with the changes."


"We want to give our staff opportunities to grow in other areas, instead of remaining stagnant in one position. As a school district it's our responsibility to grow our administrators." What a crock. As far as I can see he just switched schools of the administrators and kept them in the same basic position. How does that grow the administrators. What it tells me is that he didn't have enough of a case to legally fire anyone so he just moved them. Of course they are on board with the move. What are they going to say, "No I'm not moving." Oh, that's insubordination, so "You're fired!".

"They are "personnel matters." I know for a fact that Rowland has a few select local influential parents in his hear that did not like the administration at Central. Even teachers called an emergency meeting with Rowland and school board office admin staff in an effort to save their administrators. So it seems teachers and staff were not consulted in this matter. Disgusting. Sounds very similar to the the UVA president firing issue a lot. The school board administration proved they do not value the opinions of the teachers and staff. What he calls stagnant, I call stable. They are taking schools that are stable and dismantling their harmony. Do we really need this now, in the days of more pressure on administrators, teachers, and staff to perform more when given less resources? How does this benefit the students? Where in the explanation does is stated they are doing this for the students?

Is this the same reasoning he used to bring the Redskins, sorry "Oldskins", to see the students. The students didn't even know who the old players were, not to mention several student suffered heat exhaustion that day. Eating chili for lunch at 9:30AM and sitting in the hot sun is not a fun day is my eyes. I won't even go into the fact the schools had to change a SOL testing day for this "event".

It seems we have more of "who cares what the residents think, we are going to shove our decisions down their throat" mentality. Its obviously not only among our Board of Supervisors.

I think we need to shuffle our school board office employees around to other positions, to "grow" them.


Bravo to smalljaws! I completely agree with everything you said.


THANK YOU smalljaws for saying what you did. As a resident of Shenandoah County and attended CHS, I find it disgusting Dr.Rowland has to let these few "personnel matters" from "big name" parents influence in making this change. I have been around most of these WONDERFUL people and will only say that CHS office will not be the same. I thought we stood by the employees?? Guess that has gone out the window as well. Sad to see!! So instead you just move everyone to keep these parents happy, instead of standing by your employees side! Pathetic!! And couldn't agree more, sounds like so much like what is going on at UVA. I wish these WONDERFUL people well in their new positions. I know you all will do wonderful.

Play the game, agree with everything and NEVER have an opinion and you might get to stay in public education - that is if you are a teacher. And if you are a principal or assistant (most especially a man) you will be transferred.

Don't use your brain - obey. That's the way it all works from the top down. And by all means - let the parents run the show. Keep everyone happy!

What happened to loyalty? democracy? dedication? Why do you make your employees feel like pawns in a huge Chess Match?! If you want dedication and loyalty then you need to treat your employees with respect and talk to them BEFORE you make decisions! These 9 administrators were blind sided. Do you think they will continue to give their 110%? Probably not. I understand there were reasons behind these shifts, however what about talking to the administrators and making a game plan? What about putting your faith into them, observing them, talking to them? I know superintendents are Kings/Queens of school systems, however do they work in the schools? do they know the kids personally? do they know who gives their everything and who just slides by? NO! There has to be some accountability on the SBO personal (including the superintendent). . . . something has to change!!

All I can say is that I am very happy my last child graduated this year.

I'm embarrassed by people's reactions to this announcement. I am sure this decision was not made lightly and was made with students' academic and physical well-being in mind. SCPS staff are required by contract to be available to work in whatever location assigned by the school board, and they are fully aware that this is a possibility. They are given notice of transfers and are not blindsided. Any concerns throughout the school year are communicated with the necessary staff members and addressed as they arise, not ignored. The administration changes made last summer are a testament to the success that these changes will be as well! It's easy for us to be on the outside and judge, especially if we have no inside knowledge of the real day-to-day work of teachers, assistants, and administration in our school buildings and central office.

"I'm embarrassed by people's reactions to this announcement."

What an odd thing to say.....

What earthly reason do you have to be embarrassed by other people's opinions? That's the kind of thing said by a surrogate when trying to defend a poor position.

Songbirg, sounds like you are privy to some inside information, and your response sounds like PR spin or just naive. I'm not calling you naive, just your answer. Why are you embarrased? Because we care about our children's education? I agree none of them were blindsided; however, I know they were not based on poor SOL scores, teacher morale, or poor administrative evaluations, which is what the decision should have been based on.

I know teachers and staff are contractually obligated to work wherever they are placed. To say these are "personnel matters", and reasons can not be told, adds to the suspicion of unjust transfers. What real problems are they hiding by just shifting administrators around? Why do they need to grow outside their area of expertise? Do we ask an elementary teacher to transfer and teach high school history? It goes back to the age old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." Are these decisions based on what's best for student learning at a time when there is so much to worry about? The staff has been highly disregarded with these moves.

The current administration has not shown much desire to fight for the education of our county's students. I have never heard "how can we increase the quality of education?" All I hear is "what can we afford to lose?"

The issue IS the school board administration is NOT in the classroom. In fact, some have never taught a SOL based class. How do they know how shifing administrators in a school really affects the staff and students?

Now maybe those "administrators" will understand and appreciate what the teachers have to put up with. Teachers are changed to any position the all-powerful administrators want w/o any notice or approval. Teachers are blamed for all the ills-of-the-world but have no power to do what needs to be done while administrators have the power, make the decisions, and are not held accountable. I say this is a good idea for that reason. If it ain't broke, don't fix it and if it is broke-fix it!

I think this is awful. What are they doing? What's the real reason for this mess. I heard Chris Cook has been planning to leave for a while now. Why make so many changes if he's the one that wanted out? I hope this wasn't done because of parents. I think the real problem is Rowland. it doesn't seem like he can stand up to the parents. We all know what happened with the girls basketball incident. It's a shame Central has become this way. If the new principal isn't tough, nothing will change!

KUDOS to those who have spoken out!
As an employee of SCPS, I can promise you that we were not consulted about these changes. It was basically shoved down our throats, and was done so by email after school ended. Which means no time to say good bye to those that we have worked with for years. o me, it is just typical of Rowland and the way he runs things. If anyone needs to be shifted in their positions, it is those in the school board office. What used to be accomplished by one person and a secretary, now takes up to seven people. While those of us who have remained with the school district continue to be paid meager salaries. I know of one particular employee who has been with the school system since 2001, as a FULL time employee, and she brings home $1,000 a month. A MONTH! And she has a college degree.
Don't be fooled,. Changes aren't being made to help the school SYSTEM. Changes are being made to benefit the school board. It isn't about the students. It's about Rowland, and only Rowland.

And like the BoS, they keep getting re-elected.

It seems there are more than a few fired up about this issue. Those who are upset now, needs to "Remember in November" and elect the some of the sorry BOS out as well as the inept school board members.

In general I wouldn't have such a big issue with the transfers and the decisions. However, the way the choices are made and implemented show ALL of the employees they don't matter. You really are just a number. With that being said you vastly out number the "central office" and if you all banded together, I believe, actually could make a difference. What if an entire campus of employees called in sick one day? While a bit extreme, it would definitely let the school board office employees you are no longer willing to be doormats. There are parents ready to back their children's' educators, but don't know where to start or are just too shy to speak up.

Do we really need 2 assistant superintendents? It is widely known that Jeremy Raley was the Director of Finance then last year assumed the title of Asst. Superintendent for Administration & Finance and received a significant pay raise as a result. He was the only employee to receive a raise that year that I am aware of. Did his duties increase that much, or was it just a newly created job title? I'm sure most employees are doing more with less resources (I'm not talking about money here). I'm sure that went over like a lead brick with other "central office" employees.

As far as advocating for kids, Rowland needs to read a chapter from Northern's book on negotiating. How do you expect to get the funds you want when you present the minimum needed to operate (as told by Rowland in his presentations). You know the BOS will come back offering less. Jeez, do you take the car dealerships 1st offer on a new car? Of course not, the prices are made for negotiation.

I am not an educator, but follow the schools closely as I have a child. I grew up in public education and went to a public state university, and would not change anything about the experience. Today with all of the testing, labeling of the students, students' medical diagnoses, where is the time to actually teach? When I went to middle and high school, there were no SOLs, I never heard of autism (I know its a growing epidemic and just using it as an example), and bullying was handled with a punch in the mouth! And I'm only 32 years old! It seems like eons ago compared to today's students.

The problem here to me was more significant because of HOW it was handled. An email was sent out to all school employees informing them of this move, after the end of school...and I believe it was even noted that one change was at Sandy Hook Elementry School...and that had to be pointed out by somebody who received it. Dream on people...this is Dr. Rowland doing all this...this is JEREMY RALEY. He is a Dr. Northern wannabe and he is the one calling the shoots. I am not sure why we conitnue to pay some HR guy almost $100,000 plus 3 secretaries...when Jeremy Raley is clearing making all personnel decisions. Of course, the HR guy should of been 'reassigned' the first time he didn't do a background check on a new hire employee...and most certainly after that happened a second time...but even more recently when he released all school personnel's social security numbers...maybe that happened because he was stagnent in one position. We have an Asst. Administrator/Chief Financial Officer running the school who is a Physical Education Major. Hello do we find that unusual??? If he was such a finance buy...why isn't his degree in financial, accounting...something mathmatical??? Let's support the real people working for our children...the teachers...and clean house in the SBO...that is where you have to begin.

Songbird, I have first hand knowledge that people/administrators were not aware of the changes that have come to be. Principals, nor other staff members, were told of changes until after school was out! That's a very dirty way to handle professional business. For another thing, an email was sent out to ALL SCPS employees indicating that Sandy Hook Elem. would have a new principal. Then, after the mistake was brought to Dr. Rowland's attention, a 2nd email was sent out with the correct information. Now, the correct thing to do would to say, "I am sorry for the first email, here are the new administrative assignments." Oh no, there was no recognition of the mistake. Dr. Rowland simply sent a new one with no explanation of the mistake, so everyone wondered for awhile what principals were going to be where. Principals were NOT given advance notice, no saying good-bye, no tieing up of loose ends, etc. As a teacher of 20 years and someone who also has children in the division, I certainly hope someone in the board office knows what they're doing.

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