Wadleigh's Principal Leaving As City Plans Elimination of Middle Grades

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The principal of Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts told faculty members and students Thursday that she is leaving the school at the end of next week. The announcement came days before the city's Panel for Educational Policy is scheduled to vote on plans to phase out Wadleigh's middle grades, and to shrink or close 24 other schools.

Herma Hall has been the principal of Wadleigh since February 2008, after her predecessor left to become a high school superintendent in Brooklyn. She has worked in the Harlem school for about a decade as a teacher and an assistant principal.

But when she came up for tenure last year, the Department of Education chose to postpone the decision for another year. Then, the Education Department confirmed, this month officials declined to grant her either tenure or another postponement.

Ms. Hall did not respond to questions about her impending departure. Nor is it known where she will go after Friday. The Education Department and her union will only say that she will revert to her old title of assistant principal.

Some teachers at Wadleigh have complained about a lack of strong leadership in the building, and the Education Department said it is investigating reports of multiple absences. But in an interview last week, the principal said she rarely used any sick time.

She also said she had not seen the resources for teacher training and other forms of support that Education Department officials said were offered to the school after grades fell on its progress reports. Wadleigh's middle and high schools earned As in 2009, but their grades fell in 2010 and both earned Ds last year.

The city says it is committed to keeping the upper grades open while phasing out grades six through eight. The school had 525 students last year.