Wake County Schools appoints new principal amid parental complaints

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Schools appointed a second principal at Lead Mine Elementary amid growing complaints from parents.

Kenneth Branch will serve as interim lead principal, where he will work with Principal April Hill for the remainder of the school year.

WCPSS leaders met with staff Tuesday to notify them Lead Mine was receiving additional support to "ensure students focus on a strong finish to the school year." Parents received a recorded message from the school Wednesday morning.

More than 80 people have signed an online petition to oust Hill, claiming she has created a hostile work environment, causing teachers to quit.

Sherre Walstad, who is also a former principal, said she has noticed big changes at her grandchildren's school since Hill was appointed to the school last June.

"Morale has gone downhill. People are leaving. Her leadership has brought the school down. They're losing a lot of their people not just staff, but there are parents who have chosen to go elsewhere," said Walstad.

According to the petition, Lead Mine Elementary faces a 50 percent staff turnover rate.

But a WCPSS spokesperson told ABC11 the district has not received official word of that many teachers leaving.

They report eight teachers have turned in their notices this school year, many due to promotions or transfers with some set to retire.

WCPSS said area superintendent Pamela Kinsey-Barker spoke with several parents by phone about their concerns, but many say their repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting with WCPSS leaders were ignored.

"If you're in education, the students and the parents are your customers and you need to take care of them, and they don't listen to anything," said Walstad.

Some who signed the petition say the problems with Hill did not start at Lead Mine.

A teacher working condition survey compiled by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction shows teacher morale was also a problem when Hill was principal at Carpenter Elementary.

In 2014, 49 percent said there was not an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in the school.

In 2012, only 15 percent felt that way before Hill took on the role.

59 percent said they did not feel comfortable raising concerns important to them.

Before Hill was appointed...just 17 percent felt that way in 2012.

Hill will stay on the job at Lead Mine Elementary through the end of the school year. WCPSS has not said whether she will return next school year.

ABC11 reached out to Principal Hill for comment, but she has not yet responded.

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