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Okemos School District lost five of its seven principals; three replacements already hired

Okemos Board of Education Center
Posted at 7:00 AM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 09:13:26-04

OKEMOS, Mich. — Okemos Public Schools will be seeing a big staffing change for the upcoming school year after losing five of their seven principals.

Okemos Public Schools will be seeing a big staffing change for the upcoming school year after losing five of their seven principals.

“The Okemos Public Schools has had some administrative turnover at the end of the school year, in terms of our principal leadership," said Okemos Superintendent John Hood. "We have seven buildings and we have five principals leaving us.”

Hood sent an email with a list of over 20 employees leaving the district. Along with the five principals the district is also losing eight teachers and one counselor.

Hood sent an email with a list of over 20 employees leaving the district. Along with the five principals the district is also losing eight teachers and one counselor.

“We wish them well, they have a ton of institutional knowledge, and are such a high functioning, caring, terrific team of folks that are leaving us, that we’ll miss greatly.”

The principals of Okemos High School, Christine Sermak, Hiawatha Elementary, Julie Bellinger, and Cornell Elementary, Tara Fry, are all retiring. Okemos Public Montessori at Central Principal Shannon Nedds will be moving out of the state and Bennett Woods Principal Noelle Palasty will be changing careers.

Bennett Woods Elementary School
Bennett Woods is one of four elementary schools in Okemos losing the principal before next fall.

Hood said he believes COVID could have been a contributing factor to the turnover.

Hood said he believes COVID could have been a contributing factor to the turnover.

“I can't say that COVID helped retain employees and I think you're seeing some of those trends in other districts and other, you know, occupations as well, nationally,” Hood said.

But he doesn't believe that's the sole cause.

“I just think we happen to have a very veteran leadership team and some of those natural cycles of folks coming and going just happen to converge with five out of the seven leaving,” said Hood.

Okemos High School
Okemos High School Principal Christine Sermak is retiring. Hood said the principal position for the high school has already been filled.

Hood said they're working to fill the positions as quickly as possible and are "looking at a very qualified candidate pool to replace those that are leaving."

Three of those positions have already been filled.

"We filled two of our elementary openings and our high school principal opening and we're still working on filling two other elementary openings, yet, hopefully later this month,” Hood said.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

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