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Tracey turnover: Moore set to be schools’ principal; Allen appointed as interim leader

Norwalk High School Assistant Principal Lynne Moore, left, and NPS Executive Assistant Maura Perrottelli at the Board of Education retreat in July.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Public Schools is shuffling its deck, sending Tracey Elementary School’s new Principal, Brenda Brush, to work in Central Office, replacing her temporarily with former Briggs High School principal Marie Allen and making Lynne Moore permanent Tracey principal in June.

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella announced this in a Tuesday email to Tracey parents. Brush “will support the district’s Curriculum and Instruction department at Central Office in the area of mathematics.”

Moore was removed from her post as West Rocks Middle School principal in 2018 under then-Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski and transferred to Norwalk High School. In August, she sued NPS, Adamowski and the City, alleging racial discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation.

Moore is also Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) president; the lawsuit alleged Moore had been retaliated against for having defended Allen in a grievance process. Moore was born in 1945 and her replacement at West Rocks, Adam Reynolds, was under 40, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit was settled in January, according to the federal courts website. Attorney Ryan Daugherty, who represented Moore, said he had no comment.

It’s been a bit rocky for Tracey families: last year, some parents were shocked when then-Principal Theresa Rangel left the district altogether to become director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Naugatuck Public Schools. Rangel had been Tracey’s principal for six years.

Michelle Tiani, then a Tracey School Governance Council member, said Tracey’s CISD (Curriculum and Instruction Site Director) was part of the principal succession plan but “was appointed as an interim principal at another school in the last few months of the school year and ultimately became permanent in that role.”

The roles were filled just 10 days before the school year began. Brush came to Norwalk from Greenwich Public Schools, where she had served as assistant principal at the Julian Curtiss Magnet School since 2013 and before that been district math coordinator, according to a news release.

Lindsay Esposito was named the school’s CISD. She had been Tracey’s literacy instructional coach for a year, a news release said.

Allen is Tracey’s principal as of today, March 30, according to Estrella. She will work alongside Esposito to “ensure a positive finish to the school year for all students,” Estrella said.

Allen had been assistant principal at Brien McMahon High School. She came to Norwalk Public Schools in 2008 after working “in various positions within the Houston Independent School District,” and “has broad experience across grade levels,” Estrella said.

Joe Devellis, longtime Assistant Principal at Roton and West Rocks, is assuming Allen’s duties at Brien McMahon, according to a post on the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education.

Moore “joined Norwalk Public Schools in 1998 as principal at West Rocks Middle School, where she worked with many former Tracey students and families,” Estrella said. She’s “an experienced NPS administrator known for creating a nurturing environment and caring deeply about her students.”

Estrella said, “Dr. Moore and Dr. Allen will work closely together over the summer to ensure a smooth transition for the start of the upcoming school year, with the support of district leaders as needed. I am confident that Tracey Magnet School will be in capable and experienced hands!”

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon has said that “high turnover of staff has an impact, because it takes time to develop solid working relationships. These relationships are essential to high functioning schools.”

Updated, 4:13 p.m.: Information added.

18 comments

Tysen Canevari March 30, 2022 at 6:36 am

Another lousy move by the $300,000 a year super. Lets appoint a 77 year old principal to a currently unstable situation at Tracey. A principal with her own share of nonsense in the closet. Why not promote a deserving administrator that is yearning for advancement and stability? Cmon Estrella. Earn your keep

John O'Neill March 30, 2022 at 10:17 am

As Mrs. Yordon said, “. . .high turnover of staff has an impact, because it takes time to develop solid working relationships. These relationships are essential to high functioning schools.
What is hysterical about this comment is Estrella just named a 78 year old Lynne Moore as next principal at Tracy…Can you imagine a 78 year old who is suing the district developing those solid working relationships….Think about that for a second….When you stop shaking your head think about that as you might evaluate current state of BOE…MIND BOGGLING
I have to be honest — This has to be the most bizarre hire/promotion in the history of Norwalk School system. Whether you like Moore or not, she’s 78 years old. In my opinion when she’s replaced half way thru next school year there will be an age discrimination lawsuit added to her current lawsuit.
So, Supt Estrella is saying that a 78 year old woman who has many fans, but also a boatload of detractors is the best candidate for the job?? IS Harry Rilling and Co actually paying attention ??

Piberman March 30, 2022 at 11:45 am

Frequent managerial/professional turnover in any organization is not a mark of “professionalism”. It’s the mark of a “challenged organization”. But frequent turnover seems characteristic of Norwalk public schools in recent years as more public attention is focused on asking why our City School grads are not meeting Ct Education Dept graduation standards. That no plans have been made public by either the Supt. or the BOE suggests there are no reasonable expectations for remediation in the near future for our schools to meet CT Edu graduation standards. Parents, new or prospective homeowners wanting better public school education will need look elsewhere. Our well known public school deficiencies should not prevent our City’s leaders once again claiming “Norwalk is CT’s best run City” when elections roll around. Who would disagree ?

Jim Tru March 30, 2022 at 1:09 pm

OMG I cannot believe that this current BOE and Superintendent have reinstated Lynne Moore to any role within NPS! I feel so bad for the students and teachers at Tracey. Norwalk Politics at its worse!!

Isn’t there documentation of insubordination from every superintendent during her tenure in NPS? How many on record? 4 or 5?

Tracey Parent March 30, 2022 at 1:58 pm

As a parent, Dr. Allen is already a breath of fresh air after just a few days at our school. I’m very excited to have her on board for the remainder of the year and I think our community will welcome her with open arms. On her first day on Tuesday, she was out in the parking lot smiling, helping unload my kids from the car, and introducing herself to us in the process. My kids were excited when she stopped by their classrooms and spent some time with them on her first day.

It is curious though that Dr. Moore has been appointed as the new principal for next year already. I don’t know Dr. Moore (other than what I’ve read in the news, which gives me pause) and she may be wonderful, but why has NPS appointed a principal rather than going through the normal process of posting the position and interviewing applicants? I know they recently reduced the influence of SGCs in the hiring process, but this skirts around the hiring process entirely. Seems like Dr. Estrella wants full control with no parent or staff input. It erodes one of the great things my family liked about the school system in Norwalk – true community input.

As you note Nancy, the Tracey community has had a tough year. We lost our beloved principal and CISD unexpectedly last year. The search for a new principal was marred by a dysfunctional hiring process led by central office that lacked transparency, and consistency with the process for other schools in our district. We ultimately ended up being cornered into a candidate (who, from what I hear, was never part of the candidate pool for principal or interviewed by the SGC) that wasn’t the right fit. Now, we’re being appointed a new principal that has potentially indicated she only has 1-2 years before retirement. So that means Tracey will be looking for possibly their 4th principal in 4 or 5 years. That would mean our students who started kindergarten in the last 2 years will have had a different principal almost every year during their 6 years at Tracey. How is that good for our students, families, or staff?

And if Dr. Allen ends up being a good fit, why not keep her in the role permanently to help provide some stability?

Seems like more of central office moving the chess pieces where it’s convenient for them and a “we know best” attitude on what the students, families, and staff of Tracey need, when they really have no clue.

Jalna Jaeger March 30, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Lynn Moore should retire she has done enough damage in Norwalk, NOT to mention that she is suing Norwalk! I think if you sue, you should be terminated! Good grief!!!!

Patrick Cooper March 30, 2022 at 5:07 pm

This is a travesty.

I think it is only fair that parents with children at Tracy know exactly what they have coming. Listen to me – you need to move, before the next semester.

I cannot fathom what the superintendent is doing here, other than politics. This is going to end badly, for everyone.

How do you get chased out of Milwaukee, Cambridge, etc., with the damning record sealed because unions will have it that way. Come to Norwalk, blow up the careers of many fine teachers and supports, have untold (and hidden) lawsuits filed costing the district millions in legal fees (all paid for by the taxpayers), hide the malfeasance of others while adopting their strategy of enrichment via lawsuit – and get promoted?

Only in Norwalk.

The single most toxic person in education. Really? I think Estrella is done at the end of this contract. And Norwalk – with our stellar BOE – can begin the process of rinse, wash, repeat – all over again.

I feel for the kids who’s lives will be scared by this decision. Shame on all of you.

David March 30, 2022 at 5:54 pm

My kids went to Tracey elementary, and we got to see the transition to a magnet school. At the time, everything was re-examined in a very dynamic and uplifting manner. There was a new, young principal with a bold vision. The engaged parents at the school stepped up to see the transformation be a success as did the teachers. There were, of course, some bumps in the road, but they were addressed candidly and everyone moved forward.

The change elevated Tracey to a blue ribbon school. Educators from Europe paid a visit to learn from the school, the teachers and students.

While I don’t have anything against Dr. Moore, and have not worked with her as an educator (nor do I place much stock in anonymous behind the scenes character attacks) I don’t feel her profile is the one that will propel Tracey school to new heights.

Oversight March 31, 2022 at 9:49 am

Equity comes in many forms and this Superintendent drove into town flying the equity flag. Where’s the equity for the Tracey school community? There’s was clearly a succession plan in place for when Theresa Rangel moved on to a higher position, but out of nowhere central office takes the CISD out of the school before this and awards the principalship of Fox Run to Carla Monteiro Walsh, basically cutting off the succession plan with the hope of pushing Rangel out the door. It worked, but the plan failed because the Tracey parents knew what capable school leadership looks like. Why would you take one of Norwalk’s success stories like Tracey and essentially begin to shred it as amazing staff are walking out the door every month? The parents and school community deserve to have an equitable place in the hiring process for their students. This is long overdue. And has anyone heard from the BOE member who is part of the Tracey school community? Crickets. Where’s the oversight BOE – do your job! The students deserve better than what you’ve approved. At this point, you need to save face and give this school community what they need to succeed.

Dolores Cunningham March 31, 2022 at 9:52 am

I just don’t understand what the Norwalk Board of Education is trying to achieve to move administrators around in the middle of the school year like they are chess pieces. And who suffers, our children? It takes time to develop a nurturing environment in a school where the faculty and staff work collaboratively under the helm of a principal and assistant principal who have a vision of what a blue ribbon school looks like.
Back in the days when Ralph Sloan was Superintendent in Norwalk, teachers who proved themselves in the school system, and worked hard to receive their administrative degrees, were eventually promoted to assistant principals and principals. They grew up in the system becoming familiar with the culture of Norwalk, and our schools and students were thriving back then. As a former parent, teacher, and guidance counselor in Norwalk, it pains me to watch the decline in the educational system in Norwalk. Our school system pays big bucks to hire superintendents and administrators who really don’t know the culture of Norwalk because they didn’t work in this town and move up the ranks so they are really learning about our community on the job and this takes time. There are many young teachers and assistant principals in Norwalk who know what our students need to be successful. Please look at putting them in positions where they can lead our students and schools to greater heights instead of moving administrators around that have sued our school system and are still employed here. Do you really think they are in the best position to be leading our children???

Mack March 31, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Dr. Allen is a very capable administrator, as is Dr. Moore. Both are proven and successful educators and have always been deeply committed to the children in our district. Make no bones about it………with both of them the students have and will continue to be the priority, will always come first and be provided with a top notch environment for learning to take place.

Parent of a Tracey Cub April 1, 2022 at 8:53 am

We got an email at 5:15pm on Monday letting us know that the NEXT DAY the school would have an interim principal and then the school will have yet another principal come the start of next year. There was no transition, no goodbye to the students, no involvement or input from the school, community or SGC to help plan the future and what’s best for the school. I think most parents are in shock of how this all played out.

My daughter is in second grade, she will have had 4 principals by the time she enters 3rd grade. A student should have a total of 3 in their entire cycle in the Norwalk Public School system by the time they graduate. It’s very unsettling. We love Tracey Magnet School and its staff but the school needs stability from leadership.

My daughter asked me tonight why she was getting a new principal and why she was going to get yet another new one. I didn’t have an answer for her. If Dr. Allen ends up fitting into the Tracey Magnet School community then why change principals yet again?

Each time there is someone new they have to learn the school layout, staff, school mission, students, parents, etc. It all takes time away from bettering and advancing the school for our students. There is a huge adjustment for all. If Dr. Moore plans to retire in the next couple of years, Tracey will yet again have to find another principal. I don’t know anything about Dr. Moore other than what’s been posted, but she was my husband’s principal when he was at West Rocks 24 years ago. I’m sure many Tracey parents had her as a principal if they grew up locally in Norwalk. It’s confusing to try to explain to the students all the changes. COVID already made life uneasy, the school needs a leader who can bring us all together and has the best interest of the school and students on hand. Tracey needs a leader that will stick around to see kids grow and evolve from K to 5th grade. A principal should want to see the growth of an incoming kindergartener and speak to their character and progress on 5th grade graduation day. Strong relationships, trust and respect are built over the years. Principals should get to know their students to the personal level of knowing a child’s favorite movie, to a bee allergy, to a favorite hobby of baking cookies and having a lemonade stand with their siblings. Bonds should be formed with staff, students and parents.

Dr. Allen from her first day has been outside talking to kids and families in the morning and afterschool, immersing herself in getting to know the Tracey families. It’s only been a couple days but so far it looks promising. The school community is tired of voicing their opinions to only be ignored. I was on the SGC interview committee when the SGC in unison gave a recommendation for principal over the summer when Mrs. Rangel left and we were yet again silenced.

We have been on this roller coaster ride since Mrs. Rangel left and we are all ready for the ride to end… but for some reason the park manager keeps saying ” let’s go again, not listening to the voices saying “No, stop, listen to me, listen to what I have to say.” There was a clear succession plan for when Mrs. Rangel left but Dr. Estrella decided to reroute it.

I heard there were many comments on the Nancy on Norwalk article about the “Tracey Turnover” and yesterday afternoon when I read them my jaw dropped.

My other daughter will enter kindergarten next year. We need a consistent, capable, and confident individual who can uphold the school’s principles and mission. I personally hope for a positive, inviting, educational environment where staff and students all look forward to starting their day. The Board of Education needs to listen to the school communities in every school, they have boots on the ground and know what and who would be best for their school. – there was just a shuffle of staff with no clear explanation of why this person fits best in their new given spot. My fingers and toes are crossed that it all works out.

Concerned Parent April 2, 2022 at 6:55 am

As Mrs. Yordon said, “. . .high turnover of staff has an impact, because it takes time to develop solid working relationships. These relationships are essential to high functioning schools. Why don’t they look at the turnover at Kendall and the problems there. Why not switch out that principal? Even more teachers looking to leave yet again. As a parent it would be red flags for me seeing the staff constantly changing. Why doesn’t anyone ever look at switching administrators at that school? Doesn’t matter how many times complaints are written to downtown it’s always ignored. Seeing a child run outside of the school yesterday with no shoes on says something isn’t right at that school.

Tysen Canevari April 4, 2022 at 7:21 pm

@Concerned Parent. I hear that Kendall School is a disaster too. Maybe if every teacher puts in for a transfer then Estrella the $300,000 Super will listen. Better yet, She can find a retired pricincipal over 80 thats sued the district a few times to take over. That might qualify he/she for the job!

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