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Letter to Barton families from Bernadeia Johnson
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 5:45 PM


June 24, 2014

Dear Barton Open School families,

I want to take this opportunity to explain in detail the process utilized by Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) to select school leaders.  As part of our commitment to continuous process improvement, this process has been revamped since Patrick Duffy was named principal at Barton Open in 2012.  It is my belief that our new, revised process is a more consistent one and ensures more equitable outcomes for all students and communities across MPS.  This is the process utilized to select Mr. Paul Scanlon as the new principal for Barton.

Historically, I have always utilized an internal screening and interview process for our K-8 buildings, conducted by the Associate Superintendents, who then made recommendations to me for hiring.  This year, we have had many more principal leadership transitions compared to years past, and I wanted to ensure that we utilized an efficient process, yet one that would still produce high-quality leaders for our schools.  Additionally, we established an eligible pool of principal candidates to ensure that we had options to match candidates to the unique needs/features of our schools.  As mentioned earlier, our process is very rigorous and is a daylong commitment for individuals who would like to become a principal in our district. The process is as follows:

First, applicants apply on-line to express their interest in becoming a potential candidate.  Our Human Capital department screens candidates to ensure that they meet the minimum qualifications to become a principal in our system; this includes having a principal license, or being eligible to be licensed before they begin their role as principal.
Second, once eligibility is determined, they are asked to come in for a full day to go through a standardized interview with a team of district leaders (e.g., Associate Superintendents, current principals, etc.), and various scenarios to assess their instructional leadership, ability to comprehend achievement data and create action plans/responses accordingly, their ability to observe teacher practice, and their ability to deliver critical feedback and written communication skills to name a few.
Third, candidates that make it through this process are those who demonstrate the skills necessary to be an effective building principal. Those candidates are then reviewed based upon the leadership profiles generated by the sites to see if their unique skill sets and attributes align to specific schools. If the team finds a candidate that they feel matches the site leadership profile, then they make a recommendation to me for hiring.
Thus far this spring, several other vacancies at the K-8 level have been filled across MPS for the upcoming 2014-15 school year utilizing the process listed above.  In each instance, we have adhered to our process for identifying and placing a new school leader.  I previously allowed Barton to have site-based interviews two years ago due to the unique circumstances associated with replacing a principal who had served the school for 20 years.  However, given the rigor and definition found in our updated process, I saw no need to veer from it in this instance.  This has been the process used this year to fill all principal and assistant principal vacancies to date.  I must reiterate – it is one that I feel is extremely rigorous and generates great candidates for our schools.

You should know that I enthusiastically accepted the recommendation of Associate Superintendent Saddler to hire Mr. Scanlon as the new Barton principal.  Over the past year, Ms. Saddler has worked closely with your new principal during his time as an Instructional Specialist within MPS.  She also feels strongly that he possesses the skill set required to continue great instructional leadership at Barton.  To help ensure a smooth transition for Mr. Scanlon, former principals Mr. Patrick Duffy and Steve DeLapp have agreed to mentor your new principal and share their insights about the school.  This support should serve him and your school well during the onboarding process.

I also want to make sure that we are communicating changes in a timely manner.  I acknowledge that there was a breech in our communication process for the Barton community as our weekly web update noted a change before communication was sent to staff and parents.  This resulted in an improper way of communicating to our internal and external community about leadership changes.  I apologize for that.  Please know that this was addressed quickly and resolved to the best of my team’s ability.

In closing, I want to state that Minneapolis Public Schools is a learning organization.  I continually assess and review our processes to ensure that we are getting the outcomes we expect.  If I learn that we can modify and adjust our practices to improve results, MPS will do just that. 

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Paul Scanlon to the Barton community.  I am confident that he will be an asset to Barton for years to come.  Thank you for your commitment and support to making Barton Open School an exceptional place for educating our students.


Bernadeia H. Johnson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools