Jami Dunham, the chief executive officer of Paul Public Charter School, announced on March 2nd that she has resigned from her position effective at the end of the 2016 to 2017 school year. Ms. Dunham has been in her position for a decade. I interviewed the Paul CEO back in 2014.
In her announcement, Ms. Dunham states that she and her husband made the decision for her to leave her job last November so that she could spend more time with her family. She stated that she is proud of the accomplishments at the charter over the last 10 years which include:
- The expansion of Paul into a high school, and a beautiful campus modernization that celebrates our scholars.
- Our international studies program, which has enabled our scholars to travel to Japan, Costa Rica, Zambia, Jamaica, Paraguay, Panama, London, Ghana, Cuba and Italy.
- The improvements we have made to our teacher compensation package. Over the past two years we implemented the first phase of our two-part plan and increased teacher salaries to the 50th percentile among all DC charter schools. For the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, we implemented merit-based pay to increase base salaries. As I announced in January, this month we expect to roll out the second phase of this package with the issuance of contracts for the 2017-2018 school year. The second phase of this plan will move the average salary of our teachers from below the 30th percentile to at least the 50th percentile.
The news comes as word spread that teachers at Paul are seeking union representation after expressing that their displeasure with working conditions and a lack of responsiveness to their concerns by management. Rachel Cohen of the American Prospect reported that 75 percent of teachers at Paul have signed a petition to join the new collective bargaining unit.
Roberta Colton, the chairman of the school’s board of directors, explains the process for the selection of a new CEO:
“The Board of Trustees is prepared to have a seamless and smooth transition from Jami’s leadership to our next CEO. The Board has a Succession Plan that was developed a couple of years ago and is already being applied to begin the search process. We have begun putting together a Search/Transition Committee to be comprised of five voting Board members, one or more key staff members, a teacher, and a member of the Executive Leadership Team. Sterling Ward, Board Vice Chair and Paul alum, is serving as chair of the Committee. To date, he has appointed five Board members to the Committee. Now that Jami’s pending departure has been announced, the next step is to begin filling the open positions in order to complete the search committee team.
Additionally, the Board sought bids from a number of search firms well-versed in the DC Charter School community to help us identify qualified and interested candidates for the position of our new CEO. The Committee is now in the process of finalizing its engagement of one of those firms. As part of its process, the selected search firm has interviewed both parent Trustees and intends to interview several faculty members to solicit their thoughts about the qualities and experience they would like to see in the new CEO.”
It will be interesting to see the impact of Ms. Dunham’s decision on the move toward the formation of a new teacher’s union at the charter.