Students and staff at two Echo Park elementary schools will find themselves under the leadership of new principals when school resumes in the fall. On Thursday night, residents have organized a going away party for Eleanor Vargas-Page, who has been principal for about six years at Betty Plasencia Math/Science Magnet school (pictured top left) on the southern edge of Echo Park . She is retiring after working for nearly 40 years for LA Unified.
Meanwhile, in the north end of Echo Park, Kerry Kehrley is leaving as principal of Clifford Street Elementary, which recently celebrated its 2009 National Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence. Kehrley is being reassigned to another school after serving as principal at Clifford for about two years. Some Clifford parents are not happy to see Kehrley go and have organized a campaign to keep him at the school. Said one Clifford parent in a letter to district staff:
“Now, because of [Kehrley’s] abrupt reappointment, LAUSD plans to derail the plans and goals that he, the parents, teachers and students have worked so hard to achieve. Once again, LAUSD has undermined the value of its students and parents. It is truly a sad day for the school and a decision that needs to be RECONSIDERED. We were just getting something positive going at the school – and now it is being taken away.”
Kehrley said he is flattered by the campaign to keep him at Clifford and sad to leave the school. But he is also looking forward to the job of heading a relatively new and much larger school – Charles Kim Elementary – with about 800 students (Clifford, in contrast, has only about 200 students). “I’m really humbled.I certainly wanted to stay longer but the district wants you to be a team player.”
Replacing Kehrley will be Armineh Alexan, the former principal of Cheremoya Avenue Elementary, who is returning from maternity leave. “She’s a veteran and well respected principal,” Kehrley said of his replacement.