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Lots of changes in top echelons of District

Exterior of the Philadelphia School District building.
Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY

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

A big shakeup is going on at the top levels of the School District staff, with the latest departure being Jura Chung, the director of performance.

Chung’s last day was Friday.

Her departure comes on the heels of the resignations of Chief Counsel Michael Davis and Deputy Chief of Communications Fernando Gallard. Davis, who led the general counsel’s office for six years, left last month. Miles Shore will temporarily lead the office.

Gallard, who spent 13 years in the District’s communications office, is leaving Friday, Aug. 5. Raven Hill, the communications director who worked with Gallard, left in July to become communications officer in the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Public Schools. She joined the District in 2012.

Although there was no announcement, Kevin Geary was hired in the spring as the director of external relations. Geary was hired to oversee the communications office, among other responsibilities. The District is seeking to hire communications personnel to work with Geary and deal directly with media. And in the spring Louis Bellardine was recruited from Drexel University to head the Office of Talent, following a disastrous year in which the District was unable to fill all its teaching jobs, leaving thousands of students without consistent instruction.

Chung started at the District in 2013 as the deputy chief of strategic analytics and became the chief performance officer — essentially, the head of assessment — in 2015. In an email sent to staff, Superintendent William Hite said that she "has been the driving force behind the creation of the School Progress Report, our annual evaluation of school performance."

Hite said that DawnLynne Kacer, chief of the charter school office, will become executive sponsor for the performance office until a replacement is found.

Racquel Jones, the assistant superintendent for neighborhood Network 5, is also leaving this month to take a high-level position in the Baltimore County School District.

The changes come at a time when the District is enjoying a brief respite from dealing with constant funding shortfalls, although structural deficits still loom ahead. Uri Monson, the chief financial officer, was hired in January to replace Matt Stanski, who came to Philadelphia with Hite and left to work with the school district in Montgomery County, Md. Stanski had also come with Hite from Prince George’s County.

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