Bird Rock Elementary principal Amanda Hale ‘taking time off’ following parent allegations


Bird Rock Elementary School Principal Amanda Hale has taken a leave of absence following job performance allegations that have come to light this week, the San Diego Unified School District has announced.

A letter dated Feb. 14 from Area Superintendent Mitzi Merino states Hale will “be taking some time off to spend with her family,” effective immediately.

Former Muirlands Middle School Principal Chris Hargrave will serve as interim principal.

Parents say Hale has failed to address some students’ special learning needs, failed to provide a safe environment for students, and reportedly told a teacher not to report a case of inappropriate touching in the classroom, among other accusations.

“We’ve reached the tipping point, we can no longer stand the lack of competence of this leadership,” said Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen, school site governance committee parent representative. “People have complained that their concerns are not resolved. ... I’ve heard more complaints than compliments, from last year up to last week. We’ve given her the benefit of the doubt this whole time that she would make things right, and she hasn’t.”

Responding, SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten issued a statement to parents announcing she had posted a second full-time administrator to the school, and directed the area superintendents to make weekly visits.

“I have asked for an investigation to be conducted by both the District’s Title IX Coordinator/Uniform Complaint Compliance Officer, as well as the Quality Assurance Office,” Marten’s statement says.

Maureen Magee, SDUSD director of communications added that the District will not comment on personnel matters, but takes all parent and stakeholder concerns “very seriously.”

Hale did not return La Jolla Light’s requests for comment by deadline.

According to a document circulated by parents and some school site governance committee members, allegations against Hale include:

“Hale gave teachers an evaluation form to fill out (regarding) her performance and promised teachers a gift card if they wrote their name on the evaluation, and was present and nearby teachers, as teachers filled out the evaluation.”

“Hale has not informed parents of the school safety plan, nor is there a map disseminated of where to pick up children in the case of an emergency.”

“Hale told parents that a child who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) would receive mandated services, but the child did not receive services for three months.”

“Hale directed a teacher not to report an alleged inappropriate touching observed by a parent volunteer.”

These concerns are part of a list of more than a dozen cited, many of which are accompanied by e-mails or signed statements that were submitted to the District.

Hale was appointed Bird Rock Elementary School’s principal in 2016, after a so-called “rocky year” of three temporary principals following the departure of Sally Viavada in mid-2015.