Providence hires four new school principals from out of state

Education

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than a month after Providence dismissed the two co-principals at Mount Pleasant High School — leading to outrage among some students and staff who launched a petition to reinstate them — a replacement principal has been hired.

Dr. David Conrady will lead Mount Pleasant through an effort to improve academic outcomes, according to a letter sent to staff members and obtained by Target 12.

Superintendent Harrison Peters also hired three other principals, according to the letter. Robert Rametti will be the principal at Juanita Sanchez, Michael Redmond was hired to lead E-Cubed Academy, and Dr. Roy “Demetri” Sermons was hired as principal for Nathanael Greene Middle School.

All four of the new principals were hired from school districts outside of Rhode Island.

“To deliver improved academic results, the district needed to bolster our school leadership, especially at the secondary level,” Peters wrote in the letter. The hires are part of the Turnaround Action Plan, which was released by the state earlier this year as part of the takeover of Providence schools.

In addition to dismissing Chris Coleman and Nicole Mathis at Mount Pleasant, Peters had also removed the principals of E-Cubed Academy and Juanita Sanchez during the personnel changes in June, which included layoffs of dozens of central office employees and a smaller number of employees who work in schools. No teachers were laid off.

Mount Pleasant will now have one principal instead of two, as part of a series of budget cuts made earlier this year. Evolutions High School, which was embedded inside Mount Pleasant, also closed as part of the budget cuts.

Teachers and students at Mount Pleasant had defended Coleman and Mathis after they were removed as principals, but Peters said the decision was made based on a lack of improvement at the low-performing high school.

Mount Pleasant is the first district identified for a “redesign” in the turnaround plan, with others on tap to get a new intervention plan to improve student performance.

Mathis will now be an assistant principal with the district, according to spokesperson Laura Hart, as will Vilai Or, who was removed as principal of Juanita Sanchez during the June reorganization. Former principal Coleman still has a contract with the district but has not been placed in a new job yet, Hart said, while Jon Mendelsohn — the former principal at E-Cubed Academy — resigned.

Hart said the former principal of Nathanael Greene, Michael Comella, has moved to work on the new “secondary school network” that was created by Peters during the district reorganization.

Conrady comes to Mount Pleasant from a principal role at a school in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Rametti comes from Brighton High School, Redmond comes from Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C., and Sermons comes from Vision Academies in Wilmington, Delaware.

Providence is trying to turn around its schools at the same time as the district is grappling with reopening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The state took control of the district in November, and Peters was hired directly by R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

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