Atlanta principal-teacher inappropriate relationships make school improvement even tougher

11:36 a.m. Monday, June 19, 2017 Atlanta Education News
Former Boyd Elementary School principal Marcus Jackson. Atlanta Public Schools photo.

Improving high-poverty schools that have struggled for years is tough enough, but Atlanta has seen another factor making the task even more difficult: sexual misconduct among school leaders.

Three Atlanta school principals have resigned in the past three years after being accused of sexual relationships with teachers at their schools. All of the relationships took place at some of the state’s lowest performing schools, schools that often churn through principals at a high rate — even without allegations of sexual misconduct.

High principal turnover has serious consequences for students.

Research shows it can take as long as five years to turn around a low-performing school. Having new faces in the principal’s office each year can mean school improvement efforts must restart each time, making it harder to turn a school into a place where all students learn and feel safe. It can mean good teachers are less likely to stick around and lower performing teachers less likely to leave.

And sleeping with your staff is against Atlanta Public Schools policy.

It’s the kind of thing that should never happen, said Robert Robbins, Sr. who served as an Atlanta school administrator for 30 years before retiring.

“When you roll up on that campus, wherever it is, and you’re holding the title of principal or staff member, you have some awesome responsibilities,” he said. “It’s not you first. It’s the development of those children first.”

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