New leadership at Kestrel Heights

Aug. 08, 2014 @ 02:52 PM

After a tumultuous few months, Kestrel Heights charter school has hired a new executive director and two new principals.
Mark Tracy, who was until this month a senior facilitator for elementary instruction with Durham Public Schools, is now the executive director of the K-12 charter school.
Tracy is a former principal of Wilburn Elementary School in Wake County and a former principal of Alderman Elementary School in New Hanover County.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, and a master’s of education in administration, policy and social planning from Harvard University and a doctorate in educational leadership from UNC Wilmington.
Additionally, the school has hired Richard Sinclair of Chapel Hill, an education turnaround education specialist who has worked in El Salvador and schools in Colorado, to lead the middle school.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Yates of Chatham County, Virginia, who is currently employed by the state Department of Public Instruction as a transformation coach, has been hired to lead Kestrel Heights’ high school. 
Tracy, who began work on Monday, said he is eager to meet and talk with school stakeholders such as parent and teachers to gain a better understanding of the school, which enrolls more than 1,000 students.
“I see a very bright future here,” Tracy said. “The foundation laid by the previously leaders here is fantastic.”
Tracy said teachers report to work Tuesday and he is excited about working with them, being an advocate for them and listening to any concerns they might have.
“Our teachers are critical to our success,” Tracy said. “They’re at the heart and soul of what we do.”
When asked about the recent controversy at the school, Tracy said Kestrel Heights is ready to begin the “healing process” and return its focus to the students who return to class Aug. 20.
In May, the school made headlines when students led a boycott of morning classes after the contracts of school founder and high school principal Tim Dugan and popular teachers were not renewed.
Shortly after, executive director and middle school Principal Richie Mitchell resigned.
Then in June, the school’s board of directors hired veteran educator David “Dave” Malechek to lead Kestrel Heights’ high school only to see him resign a few weeks later.
Kestrel officials said Malechek, who has since been hired to serve as interim principal of Jordan High School, decided he did not want to lead a school that was going through such a  major transition.
Also in June, the state reduced Kestrel Heights Schools’ five-year charter to three years because the school’s board of directors had failed to comply with the state’s Open Meeting Law.
State officials contend the school’s board did not provide public notice of meetings and did not follow proper procedures in closed sessions.
Board members were ordered to undergo a series of training sessions on the North Carolina Open Meeting Law, review board bylaws and adopt policies regarding board member conflicts of interest, criminal history checks, grievance policy and the hiring, firing and non-renewing of employees.