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‘Consistently failing’ Richmond school to get new principal

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RICHMOND, Va. (wtvr)--A new building isn't the only transformation taking place at one of Richmond’s worst performing schools.

“We are in a sense of emergency, not a sense of urgency,” says Richmond Public School Board Member, Shonda Harris-Muhammed.

She confirmed that principal at Martin Luther King Middle School, Dr. Valerie Harris, is retiring.

The school's new leader, currently the principal at Thompson Middle School, will start at MLK next week.

“When you have schools that are consistently failing at a rate that our schools are failing, we have to come in and make some immediate changes,” says Harris-Muhammed.

The school has seen some of the worst test scores in the entire state over the last three years and this change also comes one week after CBS 6 told you about the high turnover rate at MLK, with eight-percent of the teachers leaving so far this year.

It’s not just teachers leaving. Felicia Delaney almost took her son out of MLK, but with this change ahead, she's reconsidering.

“You have to start from the top. If there's a problem, you have to start from the top and work your way down,” says Delaney.

Harris-Muhammed says the district is working its way down. She met with the entire staff at MLK Monday and talked about improving morale, and taking immediate action to address concerns regarding student discipline and teachers frequently calling out sick.

“We are not playing anymore. Growth needs to happen in this building or some people will not be returning in August,” says Harris-Muhammed.

Harris-Muhammed tells CBS 6, the district is reassessing the principals, administrators and teachers throughout the school system.


  • Adrienne Sydnor

    Mr. Hopkins is a great principle. He actually listens to the staff, parents and students. This school is lucky to get him. Hopefully he can get everything straight over there, but he will be missed at Thompson.

  • david

    you could put in anyone you want,nothings going to change until parents start raising their kids can’t fix stupid by throwing more money at it

  • Steve

    IT does start at home. However, picking a good leader can help. RPS is almost as clueless as CCPS so flip a coin. Move to Henrico people.

  • ImNOTWorried BoutNothing

    Like Henrico any better? It isn’t. They tend not to talk about the issues in the county schools but you all are no better; county is just good at keeping their inconsistencies private I have a child at MLK and she gets a great education. The school can fail all it wants to, MY child and my older kids got a great education. Why? because I and my husband; their father raised them properly. Don’t get it twisted; some of those teachers at MLK need to watch how they speak to the kids; because you cant look for respect if you not going to give it. And my child ;my children have been taught; if you are talked to in a way that you feel is not warranted; let me know, because I have no issues of leaving my office(not home; like some of the teachers assume and have stated to my daughter; most of us parents at MLK don’t work) and straighten it. I have been to the school for teachers saying things to my children at MLK that is not appropriate; so I can imagine what they say to the kids with NO home training they are going to get cursed out and no I don’t approve of any child cursing at a teacher; but again teachers cant curse at kids(and they do on a daily at MLK). I have been told by my 6th grader of the teachers who call students the B word and MF word….like really? A child who has no home training is going to curse you right back out. TIGHTEN UP THOSE TEACHERS!!!!!

  • Monica

    The issue comes from some of these kids not having home training. You can switch principles, terminate teachers, but it starts at home. It’s not fair for the teachers to be blamed for the lack of guidance some of these kids have. They go to work everyday never knowing what they may face when school starts. Attack the real issue at hand, the parents! I have a sibling who teaches at RPS. Some of the stories I hear just makes me want to cry. The teachers have a lot of pressure of them as it is. The teachers can only do so much to correct some problems.

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