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District leaders respond to BHS principal’s resignation, lay out transition plan

Published: Jan. 10, 2021 at 9:28 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:54 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington School District is looking for a new high school principal after Noel Green resigned from the interim position Friday.

In a letter sent Sunday to Burlington High School families, students and staff, Superintendent Tom Flanagan said Assistant Principal Lauren McBride will serve as acting principal. Longtime BHS teacher Gayle Botelho will assume the role of acting assistant principal alongside Assistant Principal Herb Perez.

“Principal McBride and APs Perez and Botelho are smart, passionate and knowledgeable professionals who have the skills and abilities to help our students and staff navigate our current situation,” Flanagan wrote.

“What I would want our community to know is we are stronger together and we are here and we are going to continue to do what we need to do every day to support our students,” says McBride.

On Monday, the administration will post a 10-day internal job opening for an interim principal and a potential interim assistant principal. If filled, both positions would end before the start of the 2021-22 school year.

“We will be launching a national search to find the next permanent principal of BHS,” Flanagan wrote. “There will be a variety of ways for community engagement and when the time comes, I hope you will engage in that process. Most importantly, I hope you will help both our current team as well as the next permanent principal feel welcome, valued, and supported.”

Flanagan says this plan ensures students a smooth transition back to in-person learning at “BHS Downtown,” the site-turned-school-campus which formerly housed the Macy’s department store.

Flanagan says Green’s resignation noted that he was proud of the work done -- but chose to move on rather than take the permanent principal position.

“You know I think he wanted to be more supported and so that’s something I need to reflect on, I need to think about that and how I can make sure that I’m supporting our leaders,” says Flanagan. He also noted that the district needs to continue working on recruiting, hiring, supporting, and retaining leaders and teachers of color.

The BSD Board of School Commissioners also released a statement Sunday in response to Green’s resignation. The Board said it is “surprised” by the decision. They also revealed Flanagan was planning to recommend the Board make Green’s position permanent during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The Board said Green knew about the plan and that members supported it.

“We thank Noel most sincerely for his service to our students and community and wish him well in his future endeavors,” the statement read, in part.

Green has not returned our request for comment, but in an email obtained by our media partners at Seven Day, he tells BHS employees his status as an interim principal was a primary reason. He says the board never explained why they wouldn’t make his position permanent, which he considers “highly disrespectful.” Green also wrote, “Significant external pressure this year to run BHS in a way not consistent with my beliefs in regard to leadership has left me with no choice.”

The high school’s roughly 970 students are learning remotely, after high levels of cancer-causing chemicals called PCBs were discovered on campus in September. In-person instruction is slated to resume at “BHS Downtown” by March.

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