Central Park School community upset with decision to move principal

There was an outpouring of support for Central Park Elementary Principal Barb Page at Tuesday’s Aberdeen School Board meeting, as many were upset that the district is planning to reassign her to a different position.

More than 80 people turned out to support Page, a group that included parents, students and teachers from Central Park, some carrying signs praising her. About 15 people spoke during the public comment period in support of Page, with several parents saying she was a major reason why they picked Central Park.

Following each speaker, the crowd stood up to applaud loudly. Some speakers also questioned why she was being reassigned without any explanation.

“I’m watching the body language, looking at the faces. I see some people who give me the appearance that they just don’t care, and some who are truly listening to each and every person who’s speaking,” said Marilyn Sterling, a paraeducator at Central Park. “I’m wondering how a decision that can put Barb in her position until the end of the year (has been made) without a public forum such as tonight.”

During the meeting, no board member commented on Page or the decision to move her. After it ended, Superintendent Alicia Henderson would only say that “it’s personnel,” and that “it’s confidential so we can’t talk about it.”

Page also said it was confidential, but that she was “absolutely overwhelmed” by the massive turnout of Central Park community members who came out to support her.

On Wednesday, Henderson told The Daily World that Page’s new job would be as a coordinator for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which prepares students for college. This administrative position will cover AVID programs in Aberdeen High, Harbor High, and Miller Junior High School. Recently, Page had been serving part-time as an AVID director for the district.

This has been Page’s second year as Central Park’s principal, and she has spent over 20 years as a teacher in Aberdeen.

Third grade teacher Connie Chicano said that in her 26 years at Central Park, she has never seen a principal be reassigned like this without any explanation. She called Page the best principal she’s worked for.

“I hope you reconsider, because I feel if you came down and talked to the staff, you’d get a better understanding of Mrs. Page and what she’s brought to our school, and what a great place it is because of her,” Chicano said at the meeting.

Chicano described her as a “great leader, very positive, warm and caring,” and someone who doesn’t play favorites. Chicano said a majority of teachers including her were shocked about the decision, and that a fair number of students cried when they heard the news. She also applauded Page for bringing the AVID program to the high school originally.