A former elementary principal sent to lead John Marshall Middle School has already been replaced due to fights, an injured teacher, and general chaos at the newly-formed merger school.
Thursday, the 15th day of the school year, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel named Michael Harris to replace Marcus Macias who was in his first year as principal of the school.
Press Conference Video
McDaniel described those first 14 days as a “tough, challenging start to the year” for JMMS.
Macias was previously the principal of Rancho Village Elementary School on the south side.
Harris was the assistant principal at Douglass High School before his appointment to JMMS.
McDaniel described Harris as a “long-time” and “seasoned” administrator.
“I want to be real clear about this,” said McDaniel. “Our interest is in moving forward. If I were to begin assigning blame for how we got to where we are, I would begin right here (gesturing toward himself).”
Later in the press conference, when Free Press asked who is responsible for the climate of any school, McDaniel said, “it is the principal.”
JMMS is a merger of five different schools in Oklahoma City Public Schools consolidated by the district’s Pathways to Greatness plan. The plan has resulted in changes across the district where some schools were closed and the students merged into new schools.
Since John Marshall High School and the middle school were a mid-high until this year, some on social media have been assuming the problems were at the high school at Hefner Parkway and NW 122 Street.
John Marshall Middle School is no longer in the same building as the high school. Instead, it has 900 students on its own dedicated campus at 2401 NW 115th Terrace, formerly used as Greystone Elementary School.
Retooling master schedule
McDaniel said that starting Tuesday, the school will have a “reboot and relaunch” of the master schedule.
He reported that some classes had too many students which caused teachers to have to be focussed on management too much instead of teaching.
Brown said that the problems in the hallways was because of problems with the master schedule that sent too many students in different directions at once in the same hallways.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean an overcrowded school,” said Brown. “That means an extremely overcrowded hallway and a schedule that needs to be revamped.”
Five school cultures
We asked what measures were taken this summer to lay the groundwork for creating a John Marshall Middle School culture out of the five other school cultures students were coming from.
Most of what was done was the usual open house, meet-the-teachers types of volunteer events known to draw the most engaged and available parents, which are typically less than even half of all busy parents, some of whom are working multiple jobs.
“Full disclosure for me — coulda, shoulda, woulda — I wish we would have done more,” said McDaniel in conclusion to his answer.
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