Schools Superintendent Dr. Mitchell retires

Dr. Diana Mitchell

CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County School Board announced the retirement of Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell at a special meeting Friday.

Dr. Mitchell had served since July 2017. She was not present at the meeting, having sent an email to President Glenn Bramble, saying she was at an unexpected family event.

Mr. Bramble said Dr. Mitchell had given him permission to read her statement. “It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from Dorchester County Public Schools, effective June 30, 2019. Leaving Dorchester County is bittersweet, yet I find it necessary to take time for family matters.

“This decision did not come easy to me. However, I believe Dorchester County schools are at a great place. Many thanks to the hard work of our Central Office, administrators, principals, and especially our teachers. I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished on behalf of the children of Dorchester County schools,” Dr. Mitchell wrote in her statement. She said those accomplishments included:

91 percent of public schools received a 3, 4 or 5-star rating under the new Maryland Report Card accountability system;

Implementation, with the Board of Education, of the new upper management system for greater leadership capacity during the reconstruction of Central Office personnel;

Partnered with academic and support staff, members of the community and families to create a new Champions Strategy Plan, 2018-2023;

Launched the communications tool, “Let’s Talk,” to better engage staff and community members;

Increased the number of underprivileged students in advanced placement programs;

Partnered with the state’s Department of Labor to execute the first apprenticeship program for students who are ready to enter the workforce upon graduation; and

Assured that teachers, principals, assistant principals, aspiring leaders and support staff members received professional development.

“I cannot be more thankful for the opportunity to have served the amazing youth of Dorchester County, and to have been able to work with the Board of Education to have accomplished so much for our students. We have dramatically changed practices in clear and definitive ways to support all stakeholders at Dorchester County Public Schools.

“I am confident that the staff will continue reliably to build upon the past successes and move students and families forward, academically, socially and emotionally. With warm regards, Dr. Diana Mitchell.”

The board voted unanimously to accept Dr. Mitchell’s retirement. Mr. Bramble read a brief statement confirming the retirement, ending with, “The board will sincerely miss Dr. Mitchell and wishes her the best of luck for the future.”

The board then went into closed session to discuss personnel.

President of Dorchester Educators Katie Holbrook issued a brief statement after the meeting, saying on behalf of the teachers’ union, “We respect her decision.”

Among the challenges local schools faced during Dr. Mitchell’s tenure have been classroom discipline and violence among students and directed at teachers. Conditions in Dorchester schools – both their successes and their difficulties – prompted strong support for and criticism of Dr. Mitchell.

“Lots of happy parents today, I’m sure,” Shelly Hughes-Jones said in a statement on social media.

“I think it’s a disgrace as to how she was treated and disrespected,” Theresa Stafford wrote online. “I can’t wait until the next person takes over, and there better be the same stipulations and accountability in place. Just being frank, anyone who comes to this county and is not part of the good old boy system will not be successful, particularly if they are truly in it for all kids.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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