BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D., Contributor
ST. PETERSBURG — Those familiar with my columns on Lakewood High School know I have consistently advocated for the reassignment of former principal Erin Savage and Area Superintendent Dwayne Hinds. Savage has been reassigned to Bayside High, and her replacement, Conneisha Garcia, appears to be approaching the new assignment with great energy and enthusiasm. Some say it is infectious.
Principal Garcia recently hosted an open house for parents and the community and announced her intentions to recognize what educators know. Graduation at the high school level begins in the ninth grade. She intends to ensure scholars are tracked and monitored so that all required courses, credits and graduation requirements are effectively managed, thereby minimizing the number of graduates not on track to graduate their senior year.
Garcia has installed a new leadership and counseling team to meet student needs and facilitate one of her priorities: learning. She also wants to reignite “Lakewood pride.” Like other schools in the district, Lakewood graduates have received far too many concordance diplomas. I am pleased to learn that Garcia is committing to increasing the number of standard diplomas for her graduating seniors.
I have been asked numerous times whether Garcia will get a new area superintendent, and my response has consistently been, “I certainly hope so.” Given that the decision is pending, concerned parents, students, and staff are looking forward to a fresh start and, like me, believe retaining area superintendent Hinds would only impede a successful reboot.
Having read the school’s climate survey, I think it is inconceivable that Hinds is allowed to remain even if, as reported, Garcia, his personal friend, asked that he not be reassigned. It would simply be unfair to lay all of Lakewood’s past failures at Savage’s feet. Her supervisor obviously shares some responsibility for the less-than-desirable performance, and he should also be reassigned as well. Lakewood deserves a completely fresh start.
If, in fact, Garcia asked her friend, Hinds, to be retained as her direct supervisor, I surely hope leaders at the district level are wise enough not to grant the request, and if, in fact, they are not, the decision is not ultimately regretted by all. Savage should not bear the weight alone; Hinds has some culpability.
Believe it or not, we are very close to starting a new school year. I want the absolute best for Garcia, her leadership team, new and returning scholars, teachers, and counselors. Parents and scholars, you too have an exceptional role to play in restoring “Lakewood scholarship” and “Lakewood pride.”
I am cheering for all of you.