The principal and three vice principals at Lincoln High School were removed from their positions on Wednesday, the day after the 2018/19 school year came to a close, the San Diego Unified School District confirmed.
The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) said Principal Jose Soto-Ramos and vice principals Zarpana Rietman, Devon Phillips and Myeshia Whigham were let go from their positions because the district wanted to achieve a higher level of excellence at the school.
"The problem is that we wanted consistency in the achievement. We have pockets of excellence but we’d like to ensure that we have a uniform process of esteem that our students are achieving," SDUSD Board Chair Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said.
NBC 7 was notified to the removals from witnesses who reported seeing four employees being escorted from the school by human resources employees.
Lincoln HS Parent Teacher Association President Cindy Barros said the employees were allowed to collect their belongings before they were asked to turn over the keys and asked not to return to the school.
None of the employees were being laid off, Payne said. They all have rights to apply for positions within the district.
The district chose to wait until the day after graduation to minimize the impact on students. Nearly 250 students graduated from Lincoln High School on Tuesday, Payne said.
The SDUSD will create a team, led by Michael Brunker, longtime Executive Director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, to conduct a nationwide search for replacements.
The community will be a part of the process, Barros said.
In 2014, Lincoln High's then-principal Esther Omogbehin, also known as "Dr. O," resigned from her position.
In 2017, Vice Principal Jose Soto-Ramos was announced as interim principal for the next school year and was listed as principal of the school on their website.
Barros said while she was not surprised by the announcement, she was hurt because she has worked with the administrative staff for eight years.
"I don’t want the message to be that we were letting this team go because of any of those factors, what we’re really interested in is ensuring that we’re on a level, on a trajectory to go higher, and we wanted to increase the rate so we get there faster for all of our children," Payne said.
A large group of what appeared to be teachers and staff were gathered in front of an auditorium when an NBC 7 news crew arrived to the scene Wednesday. Moments later, an announcement over the loudspeaker called staffers into the auditorium for a meeting.
One staffer who was leaving the campus did not want to comment on the situation unfolding but did want to reassure students.
"I want to make it clear that it's not the fault of the students, it's not the fault of the staff. We love our students; we love each other. That's all I know," she said.
No other information was available.
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