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Staffing shift at West Philly High, Clymer

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

District officials confirmed this morning that after just months at West Philadelphia High School, veteran principal LaVerne Wiley is being reassigned to George Clymer Elementary School in North Philadelphia.

The move comes in response to ongoing controversy surrounding embattled Clymer principal Kevin W. Parson, District spokesperson Fernando Gallard said. The District is continuing to investigate allegations reported by the Inquirer that Parson’s job performance was compromised by his run for elected office in Maryland, where he currently lives.

"As [Parson] is dealing with the issue at hand, we want to make sure the school is focused," Gallard said. "'[Wiley’s] assignment is for as long as she is needed."

The District’s investigation into his performance is not complete, and there has been no change of leadership at the school at this point, emphasized Gallard.

Parson did not return calls for comment.

Wiley most recently served as co-principal at West Philadelphia High School, where she and Ozzie Wright replaced Saliyah Cruz in July. Prior to being assigned to West, Wiley served as a regional superintendent and as the principal at School of the Future and John Welsh School.

Gallard indicated that there would be no replacement for Wiley as co-principal at West, although he left open the possibility that Wiley could return to West following her assignment at Clymer.

"She’ll play the same role [at Clymer as she did at West], providing support on climate and instructional issues. [Eventually], she’ll probably move on, either back [to West] or to another school," said Gallard.

For West, the move continues the staffing shuffle at the troubled neighborhood high school, whose participation in Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s Renaissance Schools initiative was deferred last spring in response to as-yet unresolved allegations of a conflict of interest involving some parents on West’s School Advisory Council (SAC).

In addition to the change in leadership, West saw a roughly 40 percent turnover among staff following the school’s delayed participation in the Renaissance initiative.

One veteran West teacher said Wiley’s reassignment was unexpected, but not necessarily surprising given the ongoing turmoil at the school.

"The announcement that Ms. Wiley was leaving came out of the blue. We had been told that she and Mr. Wright were our co-principals and had no idea that she might be leaving partway through the year," said the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

This teacher and others reached by the Notebook cited frequent roster changes and an increase in fights and serious incidents as examples of a deteriorating climate at West.

"I suspect that things are going to get even more disorganized because she left so suddenly without a clear plan for who would take over her responsibilities," said the teacher.

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