Fairmount principal leaving after complaints

Duperon has been principal at Bache-Martin since 2008.
Duperon has been principal at Bache-Martin since 2008.
Posted: May 16, 2014

THE PRINCIPAL of a popular Philadelphia school is on her way out following complaints from parents about a series of bizarre incidents.

Yvette Duperon, principal at Bache-Martin School, on Brown Street near 22nd in Fairmount, will leave next month at the end of the school year, according to a letter sent home to parents yesterday. The letter does not give a reason for the principal's departure.

In a cover story yesterday, the Daily News reported parents' concerns about questionable incidents at the school, including an eighth-grade student being banished to first grade as punishment. Several parents were made to sign 13-point "behavior contracts" stipulating where students could eat breakfast, among other things, after students allegedly had played a prank on two teachers.

"Now that our foundation has been laid with the support of great teachers, parent partnerships, and caring community partners it is now time for me to seek another leadership opportunity," says the letter from Duperon, dated Wednesday. "I want to thank you for your support of the instructional program at Bache Martin during my tenure as principal. You are a banner community."

Duperon, who was making $147,006 this year, has been the school's principal since 2008.

A spokeswoman for the School District of Philadelphia declined to comment on Duperon's departure, citing personnel matters.

Bache-Martin will establish a principal-recommendation committee led by Assistant Superintendent Donyall Dickey, to include teachers, a parent representative and a representative from the community. The committee will make recommendations to Superintendent William Hite. Interviews will take place next month and a recommendation will be made no later than July 1, Duperon's letter says.

The People Paper reported yesterday that parents had complained of "strange things" going on at the school. A district spokeswoman said the district was aware of the concerns from parents over "various issues" and was working to resolve them.

Some parents yesterday expressed surprise at the news and called it disappointing.

"I'd prefer for her to stay. I think she is a wonderful communicator and works [well] with the kids," said Jason Nestor, whose son left nearby St. Francis Xavier School to attend first grade at Bache-Martin.

Nestor said the school has excellent parent involvement and a dedicated and caring staff. "I think that all is a culture set from the top. Mrs. Duperon sets that tone," he said, adding that she leaves "big shoes for the next person to fill."

Terrance Ryan, the father of a kindergartner, said communication at the school was poor, which he attributed to a lack of staff due to budget cuts across the district.

"I feel like some of the things that I've heard about the [school's] administration are influenced by the fact that there are three people doing the job that seven or eight should be doing," Ryan said. "It's hard to communicate when you're treading water."

Nina Liou, president of Bache-Martin's Home and School Association, said she was told Tuesday about the principal's departure. Liou said the association was "deeply concerned" about issues raised by parents, which she called "isolated incidents involving one teacher and the principal."

"With the announced departure of the principal, we see this coming principal-selection process . . . as another opportunity for families of the school and the neighborhood to be involved in continuing to improve our local elementary school and make it become one of the highest-performing schools in the city," Liou said.

She commended Duperon for helping to establish partnerships with outside organizations, and said parents hope to continue the school's progress.

"The bones and the foundation are there to be an amazing school," she said, "and we're looking forward to bringing on a leader that can help take us there."

On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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