Noel Maloof out as Decatur High Principal

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 23, 2015
Noel Maloof, the new principal of Decatur High.

Noel Maloof

This story has been updated. 

City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards has confirmed that Noel Maloof will be leaving as Decatur High Principal one year after taking the job.

He is being promoted to Chief Operating Officer for City Schools of Decatur. Maloof will be succeeded by current DHS assistant principal Arlethea Williams, according to School Board Member Annie Caiola.

His departure comes after a year of clashes with some Decatur High teachers over the leadership of the school. Decaturish has been inquiring about the teachers’ concerns for months, but the particulars have not been disclosed by CSD’s leadership. Teachers involved in the disputes have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Maloof is replacing Kiawana Kennedy, who left CSD to take a job as assistant superintendent of administrative services for the Griffin-Spalding Board of Education.

When Maloof became principal of the high school, he replaced Lauri McKain after she was promoted to Director of Secondary Education. McKain subsequently resigned that position to take a job with the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board.

Edwards told Decaturish she had posted both the COO and the Director of Secondary Education jobs internally. Edwards recently announced that she would be resigning from City Schools of Decatur, and the School Board is searching for her replacement.

Decaturish asked Edwards why she posted the jobs internally instead of leaving the decision for her successor.

She said, “My contract was signed and indicates that I will be the Superintendent for a portion of this year. It is my responsibility to conduct business as usual. I believe that is what the Board expects me to do.

“The position of Chief Operation Officer is critical and it was vacated rather quickly. I have held off on the Secondary position but it is time to fill the role, especially with a new Principal coming on board.”

The Director of Secondary Education oversees Renfroe Middle and Decatur High. The School Board recently voted to hire Johnathan Clark as Renfroe’s new principal, following the departure of Derrick Thomas, who left Renfroe to take a job with take a job in Henry County Public Schools. Clark is coming to Decatur from DeKalb County Schools.

Throughout Decaturish’s inquiry into the disputes at Decatur High, CSD has provided little information.

We requested copies of grievances or complaints filed against Maloof and/or Edwards. The school system’s attorney declined to provide them.

“The responsive records are annual performance evaluation records that are exempt from disclosure pursuant to (state law),” the school system attorney wrote in a response to the records request.

The school system did provide minutes from the May meeting of the Decatur High School Leadership Team. Those minutes offer a glimpse into some of the tensions at Decatur High over the last year.

During public comments at the meeting, some parents and teachers defended Maloof. They also alleged that DHS teachers were openly conspiring to oust him as DHS principal.

According to the minutes, Terence Johnson, a parent, told the School Leadership Team he had, “Concerns with teachers discussing plans to get rid of the principal in front of students.”

In a follow-up interview about the SLT meeting, Johnson said the frosty relations between some teachers and Maloof were a distraction for students, including his daughter. Johnson said he’d heard complaints that students were upset about being left out of the interview process for hiring teachers, and some parents were upset because they didn’t know about job openings at the school.

“I don’t think there’s any validity to it,” Johnson said of the complaints about Maloof. “I think there’s a small circle that are loud and Noel, to his discredit, has taken the nice guy approach and he’s not holding people accountable for their loose mouths and behavior.”

The tensions at the high school have also leaked into the search for Edwards’ replacement. Brad Draeger with search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates interviewed various members of the community, including parents and CSD staff. He presented his findings from the interviews at the June 9 School Board meeting. Draeger said several interviewees discussed “morale and philosophy” issues at the city’s high school.

At the time, Draeger chalked it up to the recent change in leadership and Decatur only having one high school.

“You have change in leadership, and whenever you have change in leadership in a one high school town, it just kind of happens,” Draeger said.

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  • Should Decatur start worrying?

    Oops…looks like a case of rewarding mediocrity (at best).

  • Fact-check: Rhame did not resign. She is just not running for re-election. Big difference.

    I’d like to remind everyone to please keep your remarks on-point and civil. Even if you disagree with someone, there’s no need to tear them down personally. Thanks.

    • Andrew

      Having to fact check someone who’s name is “Show Us the Facts.” That’s good stuff.

  • ‘Bout Time

    Buh. Bye.

  • An American Patriot

    And they expect us to vote “yes” to raising our taxes????? Yeah right, now that’s funny!!!!!

  • CSD Lifer

    Arlethia Williams has been a steadfast leader in CSD for over 15 years. Her tireless work ethic, unwavering commitment to students, and razor-sharp intellect will make her a great principal.

    • Sweet Relief

      Arlethea is a firm, fair, consistent leader respected by students and staff and will be an excellent Principal. Congratulations to her!

  • CSD Teacher

    DHS’s windfall tonight notwithstanding, this news should trouble citizens. Edwards’ hiring this paragon of mediocrity in the first place to lead a top-performing high school was a questionable decision. Defending him as he ran rough-shod over a talented staff was a dereliction of duty. But promoting him as a reward for his bad behavior reveals the depths of her disregard for our teaching staff and our town. Wonder which of Phyllis’s other sycophants will feel enjoy the warm glow of her largesse before it’s all over?

    • Grotnes

      This kinda wasn’t a promotion. I see it as, we have to get him out of the school, but there is time left on his contract and we can’t afford to buy it out.

  • Phillip Jones

    Congratulations Arlethea! We are really looking forward to having you as Principal.

  • Rebecca WH

    Dear Decaturish, Unfortunately, the minutes you relied on from the May SLT meeting were not accurate and did not reflect the range of parent comment presented. I actually tried to get the description of my public comment changed because the summary was so inaccurate, but I was not able to do so. There were many parents at the meeting commenting and/or present due to concerns about Mr. Maloof’s leadership, as well as concerns about the tension between faculty and Mr. Maloof affecting students. My comments expressed strong concern about Mr. Maloof’s negativity in his interaction with students and the fact that, as a result, his relationship with DHS students had become very unhealthy.
    The group of parents concerned about Mr. Maloof’s approach to leadership at DHS do not represent a vocal minority, as Mr. Johnson claimed. Many, many parents have been deeply concerned but were silent throughout first semester in the hope that the initial problems were a result of transitional pains. When it became clear the climate at the high school was getting worse rather than better, a number of parents began contacting Dr. Edwards, school board members, and the SLT. Dr. Edwards refused to meet with parents about concerns regarding Mr. Maloof’s leadership, stating she could not discuss “personnel matters.” If all the phone calls, emails, and letters expressing concerns about Mr. Maloof’s approach and style were publicly available, I believe it would be clear that it was not a small group of vocal individuals but rather a significant group of people acting out of deep concern for our kids and for the ability of DHS to keep and attract master teachers.

  • Rob

    So when employees in the school system can’t do their job they get promoted?
    Where do I sign up?

    Hope the new Superintendent will clean things up!

  • Jeff G

    Mr. Maloof will make a great COO. He’s a hard working, goal-driven and process-oriented administrator, with the right skill set for the job. Ms. Williams is a great choice, with a long successful record at DHS. She’s got the skills and the institutional knowledge to lead DHS effectively. It’s a win-win.

    • FRL

      “He’s a hard working, goal-driven and process-oriented administrator, with the right skill set for the job.”

      So you worked with him before? I ask because those that worked alongside him this year in Decatur did not see these qualities. Except, presumably, the superintendent.

  • Decatur Parent

    For what it is worth, a few months ago, I asked one teacher about the rumors I had heard about strife at DHS and the teacher was fine under Maloof’s leadership and felt that the teachers who were complaining were those who had been the closest to the last principal. In my own conversations with Maloof, I liked the ways he was trying to make sure that all students got a chance to have classes with DHS’s best teachers, not just those in certain tracks. That avoids the consequences of having students with the most struggles relegated to classes with the weakest teachers. Whatever the truth of the situation at DHS, I hope that the focus can now go back to the best possible instruction, support, and caring for all students. All the change in leadership and growth going on in CSD is stress enough.

  • Guest

    Not that it’s relevant, but even if Julie and Noel are best friends, it had no bearing on their opinions about the closing of Westchester. They were definitely on opposite sides then.

  • concrete examples, please

    can someone tell me what specifically was done that led to “low morale”? The article was extremely vague and all the comments below are just hyperbole. Sounds like hurt feelings, but why?
    Why in the world was someone suggesting that children be part of a teacher hiring process? Maybe we should put kids in charge of determining whether they have homework or not, as well.

    Is this truly about morale of students? Aren’t test score results and final college acceptances far more relevant and important to focus on?

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