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Vice Principal, Lead Teacher Take Interim Reins at San Jose Middle School

No answers have been given yet as to why Principal Chona Killeen is not returning for the 2012-13 school year.

and the are adjusting plans for the top administrative roles now that Principal Chona Killeen won't be returning for the 2012-13 school year.

Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said Monday that Vice Principal Paige Gardner and teacher James Larson will be in charge in the absence of Killeen, whose pending departure was announced Friday via the school's PTA e-mail distribution. The reason for the change remains unclear, and Killeen was not on campus Monday.

"I went to the staff today and let them know the plan for the interim until we figure out the future," said Cunningham, who is in her first year at the NUSD helm. "It's important so that the kids and parents know there is leadership there. We'd like it to be a seamless transition so it won't be costly to the district."

Cunningham said she'd like to give Killeen an opportunity to address the San Jose community before speaking more about the principal role. Another meeting between the staff and Cunningham is set for Wednesday "when we expect to know more and can give a more definitive answer," the superintendent said.

Larson and Gardner have served on many school committees and are "very well respected," Cunningham said.

Killeen was principal at last year when district trustees decided to shut down the school, Novato's oldest and most centrally located middle school, as a cost-saving measure. Killeen received some strong support and many compliments as she led an emotional Hill community through a trying time.

Killeen was later named to replace San Jose Principal Jeff King, who left to pursue work closer to his home in the San Diego area.

Lisa Barnes, a parent at Hill and now San Jose, wrote on a recent Novato Patch story to say Killeen should be credited for her leadership skills at both schools. "She has served my child's schools ... above and beyond the call of any principal — always supporting kids, making them excited to succeed and rewarding them for their achievements."

Ellen Christensen-Denton wrote, "Ms. Killeen has gone above and beyond to help my two children transition to middle school both at Hill and San Jose. Our family is deeply grateful for her compassion for children, and we are sad to see her go and feel lucky to have had the pleasure of her company these past three years."

The district said search committee for a permanent replacement for Killeen will include school staff, parents and district employees.

S Samson March 21, 2012 at 04:07 PM
To set the record straight for Ms/Mr. Teacher Parent, I did not attack your specific character nor "attack" any ones. I merely mentioned I am not a fan of the "type" of character represented by the posts (and please go back and re-read your posts as an independent reader - you may be surprised at the tone of your posts and how your posts have been extremely negative to a colleague on this public media platform. By the way, tonight is Open House at SJMS.
Patty Maher March 21, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Open House for San Jose is next Tuesday (March 27). There was supposed to be a meeting tonight for incoming sixth graders' parents, but that was cancelled.
S Samson March 21, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Thanks Patty. Misread the calendar! Yes, OH is next Tuesday Mar 27. :)
Novato Chess Club April 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I think Lynn Poster summed it up --Jeff King was a tremendous Principal...period!
Ilya Perry May 31, 2012 at 07:46 AM
Actually my daughters are at San Jose Middle now and my oldest daughter and son had Ms. Killeen as a principle at Hill Middle School. At first I didn't like how she dealt with things at Hill with my son. But I have seen her grow and flourish with these kids. My children told me she left but she was back the following week doing her job. Also the children mentioned that her father was sick or dying so I feel that she is being judged and not given a chance to even speak. If she is leaving because her family is I'll it's her right! If she is leaving because she is being fired stop picking and why don't you dig deeper before guessing why she was fired in the first place.

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