León’s staffing shakeup continues: 15 new principals to take the helm of Newark schools

Newark’s newest school leaders include a dozen people who have worked their way up through the district’s ranks, the former principal of a local charter school, and an educator who is returning to the helm of one of the city’s most struggling high schools after nearly a decade.

With school starting in less than a month, Newark Public Schools has announced its principal lineup for the year. The changes mean that almost a quarter of Newark Public Schools will have new leaders in the upcoming year.

Earlier in the summer, Superintendent Roger León promoted principals and district veterans to fill district leadership positions. Other principals retired, resigned, or lost their jobs, according to documents from the city school board’s June meeting.

Fifteen new principals will be filling those vacancies, León announced Monday. 

“I am excited to start the year with such a talented group of leaders,” León said in a press release. “We know they have the passion, the drive, and track record for advancing student achievement.”

Most are internal hires who began their careers as teachers in Newark, reflecting León’s preference for hiring administrators who are already familiar with the city’s schools. They include Camille Findley-Browne at the West Ward’s Mount Vernon Street School and Kenneth Montalbano at Luis Muñoz Marin School in the North Ward, where the principal positions opened up after León promoted school leaders to district leadership positions. 

But three of the new hires come from outside of the district, including one from a local charter school. In an especially notable appointment, León chose Jose Aviles to run Barringer High School, one of New Jersey’s lowest-performing high schools. Aviles held that position from 2008 until 2010, when he was demoted by then-superintendent Clifford Janey, who said that despite Aviles’s popularity with students, he was not up to the challenge of running a large high school. Since then, Barringer has had a rotating cast of administrators who have tried to improve the school, while Aviles worked for Newark’s KIPP charter network before running schools in other districts and earning a doctorate in education administration.

Here’s the full list of principal appointments that León’s office released Monday:

  • American History High School — Allison DeVaughn, formerly the “chief innovation officer,” a top administrative position, at Malcolm X Shabazz High School
  • Barringer High School  — Jose Aviles, most recently a principal in Franklin Township
  • Benjamin Franklin School — Amy Panitch, who is moving up from her position as vice principal
  • Dr. William H. Horton School — Hamlet Marte, who is moving up from his position as vice principal
  • Early Childhood Centers — Jeanne Ramirez, formerly the chief innovation officer at Elliot Street School
  • East Ward Elementary School — Rosa Monteiro-Inacio, formerly a vice principal at the Ann Street School
  • Harriet Tubman School — Angela Davis, formerly vice principal at the Camden Street School
  • Lincoln School — Hillary Dow, who has most recently been working as a special assistant supporting a dozen Newark schools. Dow is also a leader in EdCamp Newark, a group of local educators working to provide professional training for their colleagues.
  • Louise A. Spencer School — Karla Venezia, who is moving up from her position as vice principal
  • Luis Muñoz Marin School — Kenneth Montalbano, formerly vice principal at the school. He replaces Maria Ortiz, now Newark Public Schools’ executive director of student life.
  • McKinley School — Carlos Reyes, formerly a vice principal at Park Elementary School
  • Mount Vernon Street School — Camille Findley-Browne, who was until last month the vice principal of First Avenue Elementary School. She replaces David Scutari, now León’s executive assistant. 
  • Newark Vocational High School — Kyle Brown, formerly a vice principal at West Side High School  
  • Quitman Street School — Justin Avery, formerly an assistant principal at Teaneck’s Thomas Jefferson Middle School
  • University High School — Genique Flournoy-Hamilton, the former principal of Marion P. Thomas PAC Academy, part of a Newark charter network.

Not on León’s list: the prestigious Science Park High School, which will be led this year by Angela Mincy, whose departure from Barringer High School created the opening that Aviles will fill. Some schools have not yet announced their new leaders, including Elliot Street School, whose former principal Nicole Johnson has been promoted to deputy superintendent of Newark schools.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Genique Flournoy-Hamilton was the former principal of Marion P. Thomas PAC Academy. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that she was the former principal of Marion P. Thomas High School of Culinary and Performing Arts.