The Ravenswood Middle School in East Palo Alto is heading into its second year of existence with new leadership after the sudden departures of its principal and vice principal this summer.
Principal Doug Garriss and Vice Principal Annaben Kazemi both left for jobs in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff confirmed. Garriss has been named assistant principal at Audubon Elementary School in Foster City and Kazemi principal at George Hall Elementary School in San Mateo. Neither returned requests for comment.
Ryan Hughes, who was most recently the principal for the seventh and eighth grades at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, has been named Ravenswood Middle School's new principal. The district has not yet confirmed who will be appointed vice principal.
The school board will vote on their appointments at the its first meeting of the new school year this Thursday, Aug. 9.
The Ravenswood school district opened the comprehensive middle school last August with high hopes for how it will change outcomes for students who have historically entered high school behind their peers. Only one in three Ravenswood students leave the district fully prepared to meet the rigors of high school and then graduate ready for college, according to the district.
The district announced this spring that Garriss would replace Cindy Chin as principal at Willow Oaks Elementary School in Menlo Park, with Chin headed to a district office position. Kazemi was set to become the principal of Ravenswood Middle School.
The school board later decided in closed session that Chin would remain at Willow Oaks in response to complaints from parents and teachers who opposed Garriss' appointment, according to Hernandez-Goff.
"Cindy has been at Willow for years and is much loved," Hernandez-Goff wrote in an email to the Weekly. "The parents and teachers at the school were not happy that she would be leaving for a district office position. The board of trustees decided not to make changes to the school's leadership."
Maria Sevilla, who has served in an interim capacity at different sites in Ravenswood in recent years, will take over as interim principal at Cesar Chavez, Hernandez-Goff said. She was most recently leading Belle Haven Elementary School in Menlo Park on an interim basis until the district named a replacement for former principal Todd Gaviglio, whose mid-year transfer to the district office drew strong protest from parents and teachers. The school also lost its vice principal this summer.
Amanda Kemp, the former principal at Ronald McNair Academy, is now principal at Belle Haven.
Sevilla's contract at Cesar Chavez is for one year; as the district transitions all of its middle schoolers to the Ravenswood Middle School, the other campuses will become K-5 elementary schools. This year, only the eighth-graders remain at Cesar Chavez.