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Principal of union-run charter school resigns mid-year

After several years of mixed reviews and a decision by its authorizer to give it an abbreviated charter, a charter school run by the city’s teachers union is losing its principal.

Sources close to the school said that Danny Wilcox, the principal of the United Federation of Teachers’ secondary charter school, is stepping down. Wilcox, who would not comment on his departure, is the third principal to leave the secondary school since it opened in 2005.

It’s not clear if Wilcox is leaving of his own volition or if his departure is part of a top-down effort to change the school after its latest round of disappointing test scores. A spokesman for the union refused to comment on Wilcox’s leaving.

Most schools saw their scores suffer last fall when the state made its annual math and English exams more difficult to pass, but the UFT Charter School’s results were low enough to earn it a D on its annual progress report. For the second year in a row, it was in the bottom five percent of schools. On average, a little over 19 percent of its students in grades 6-8 were proficient on the English exam and about 25 percent met the proficiency bar on the state’s math exam.

Last June, after SUNY’s Charter School Institute decided to not to renew the school’s charter for five years, but rather to give it a three-year trial period, the union brought in former Associate Commissioner of the State Education Department Sheila Evans-Tranumn to be the school’s executive director.

A teacher at the school, who asked to remain unnamed, said teachers had not been told that Wilcox was leaving, but that rumors had spread among teachers and students that the principal might go.

“I don’t know, if I had to guess it was that upper management wasn’t happy with the way the school was going,” he said. “There’s a lot of dramatic changes that need to take place this year — we need a shift in school culture — and Mr. Wilcox, if he is departing, that would be one of the big changes.”

On Monday, parents waiting for their children outside of the school said they were unaware that Wilcox was leaving. But one mother, Everil Rock, said it was time for a new principal.

“He needs to go because he’s not controlling his school,” Rock said. “Whenever you have a problem, the person you need to talk to is never here, never available.”

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