May 23, 2023 - Education

Hardy Middle School principal out a month before summer break

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With just a little over a month before the last day of school, the principal of one of D.C.’s larger middle schools is out of the job.

Driving the news: Hardy Middle School principal Errol Johnson’s abrupt departure comes less than a year after his tenure started, the Washington Post first reported.

  • The news was relayed to families in a letter Friday from instructional superintendent Harry Hughes, which DC Public Schools shared with Axios.
  • DCPS declined to say whether Johnson was fired or quit.

Between the lines: The letter didn’t explain the reasoning behind Johnson’s departure. It comes after parents petitioned for Johnson’s firing, blaming him for “widespread dysfunction across all areas of the school,” the Post reports.

  • The petition described escalating safety concerns and poor communication, per the Post.
  • Abigail Paulsen, co-president of Hardy's parent-teacher organization, tells Axios that the group had received numerous reports of school safety issues, including student fights, not being followed up on.
  • Johnson did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

What they’re saying: The petition and Johnson’s departure led to tension with some school staff, who told the Post that parents mischaracterized certain issues at the school.

  • Paulsen says that parents put together a "body of evidence" that "painted a larger picture that things were not okay," and shared their concerns with DCPS.
  • "Sadly, nobody wanted this to be the outcome, but the path we were on was not supporting kids and families," Paulsen adds.

The bottom line: In his letter to families, Hughes wrote that Johnson is staying at DCPS and will continue “to grow within our district.” It’s unclear what Johnson’s new role will be. He was previously an assistant principal at Dunbar High School.

  • DCPS secondary school principal-in-residence Brandon Eatman will replace Johnson for the rest of the school year.
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