(Editor's Note: This articles was originally published May 17, 2011.)
When Lawanna Owens-Twaites took over at Anderson-Livsey Elementary this school year, she came with a long resume of dedication to students.
She had more than 20 years as an educator: as a teacher in the Bronx, NY, in Fulton County and at previous positions in Gwinnett County Public Schools. She commended the Anderson-Livsey community for its devotion to the children and the school, which built on what used to be slave land.
Now, that same principal has called it quits.
Confirmed Tuesday morning (May 17, 2011) by schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach, Anderson-Livsey Elementary is again looking for a new principal. Owens-Twaites announced her resignation about a week and a half go, Roach said.
"The principal has resigned," Roach said. "She's still at the school; she resigned for personal reasons."
Roach added that Owens-Twaites "will finish out the school year," but that Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is hoping to name a new principal at Thursday's school board meeting, or at least before school ends for the year.
After learning of resignations, Roach said the school district normally polls staff to assess the kinds of things the community wants in a new leader and for the future of the school.
Monday evening Wilbanks met with what was supposed to be a small group of constituents, but somehow it got billed as a "board meeting," Roach said.
It was not immediately clear whether Owens-Twaites resignation followed any kind of internal inquiry or evaluation, however it is clear that there have been some frustrations with administration this past school year.
Candace McCray, vice president of Anderson-Livsey's Parent Teacher Association spoke with Snellville Patch freelancer Crystal Huskey regarding the departure of Owens-Twaites. McCray said:
"The parents felt it wasn't a warm environment. The communication wasn't there, nor the leadership. It escalated over the past couple of months. Complaints were going through consistently. In defense of Ms. Owens, the test scores were exceptional. The staff hired was exceptional, including the teachers."
A Patch profile of Owes-Twaites published earlier this year prompted a number of comments regarding the school, administration and the principal. Some of the comments were negative, and some were notes of support for the principal.
However, because of general abuse of the of the comment function, public comments were suspended and deleted from the story.
The wife and mother of two daughters said in March that her love of education was inspired by her connection with God, and that she hoped she would be seen as a "good and faithful servant."
"Sometimes I don't quite make the mark in a given day, but He is faithful and I pray and read daily so that I can be focused on doing better the next day," she said said in the March article.
In addition to Owens-Twaites, Snellville Patch asked Gwinnett County Public Schools about the status of vice principal Tarsha Foye: whether she has been fired, demoted or transferred. A media report indicated that Foye had been "terminated" from her position.
However Roach said Tuesday morning that she was not aware that an assistant principal had been fired at the school, and that she would check with the human resources department.
McCray said there have been petitions to Frances Davis, the district's human resources officer, hoping to keep Foye at the school. However, the school district "will not give us an update," she added.
"She came from Norton Elementary, so when during the redistricting she was very helpful with students coming over from that school. We're hoping that next year she will be there to help with (the) new principal. We have no idea of whether she is terminated, no one will confirm or deny that. There's a board meeting on Thursday and hopefully something will come of it."
Check Snellville Patch for updates.
Background of Lawanna Owens-Twaites:
- Anderson-Livsey Elementary principal, 2010-present
- Lawrenceville Elementary assistant principal, 2003-2010
- Bethesda Elementary fifth-grade teacher, 2000-2003
- 1995-2000: Fifth-grade teacher, Medlock Bridge Elementary (Fulton County)
- 1988-1995: First-, third- and fourth-grade teacher, Public School 43 (Bronx, NY)
- 1986-1988: Administrative researcher, Citicorp/Global Finance
- 1983-1986: Administrator/Traffic scheduler, Young & Rubicam
- Bachelor’s degree, Iona College (NY)
- Master’s of science in education, Hunter College (NY)
- Specialist’s degree in administration and supervision, State University of West
- Completing doctoral program at Walden University
- Graduate of the school district’s Quality-Plus Leader Academy