Henderson names Interim Principal for Hardy

Photo by Champions for Children Awards Gala
Former Montgomery County Principal Dan Shea in 2005
Former Montgomery County Principal Dan Shea in 2005

Interim DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson has announced that Daniel Shea, a retired Montgomery County principal who currently serves in the central office, will start this week as Interim Principal of Hardy Middle School. In a letter to parents, Henderson noted Shea's record -- including service as principal of Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg and Westland Middle School in Bethesda -- along with his current role as head of scheduling for DCPS high schools and middle schools.

"This expertise will be particularly useful as the current Hardy class schedule configuration has consistently been identified to me as a primary concern of many parents and staff," the letter said. Parents have expressed ongoing frustration at this year's schedule, which was overhauled in the first half of the year by administrators.

Henderson said she wanted to "personally thank" Hyde-Addision Principal Dana Nerenberg, who was assigned part-time to Hardy last summer while continuing her full responsibilities at Hyde until she was abruptly removed from Hardy by Henderson in late January. "Both schools are better because of her work," Henderson wrote.

Shea, according to his bio, began working with Montgomery County Schools in 1974 and taught at Julius West and Martin Luther King middle schools. He was an assistant principal at Seneca Valley High School and principal at Westland before moving to Quince Orchard. 

In receiving an award from the Montgomery County Association of Administrative and Supervisory Personnel, an organization he previously led, Shea was recognized by his peers in 2005 as "a seasoned leader who also supports and fosters the potential in others." He “serves for the purpose of serving, not for his own ambition or reward,” said one colleague. “This is the hallmark of a truly excellent leader.”

While the LSRT and PTA were not informed of Henderson's decision before she announced it at Hardy in her letter, Henderson said she is committed to working closely with parents and stakeholders in the selection of a permanent principal for Hardy.

0 Comments For This Article

Dave Donaldson

I think is a very smart appointment. The issue of going back to Mr. Pope is fair however we can never go back to the way we were. This
is a smart move forward. Congratulations. Let's get behind Dan Shea and work with him, the faculty,students and parents.


Once again Ms. Henderson is exhibiting the masterful double-speak that was the hallmark of her predecessor Michelle Rhee.
"...she is committed to working closely with parents and stakeholders..."
While she met with parents and teachers over the past ten days, she heard clearly what they unanimously thought was the best solution for an interim - return Patrick Pope. But she ignored their concerns and pleas and had in fact already made one offer for the interim position even before her first meeting with Hardy community.
The Hardy community, predominantly African-American, must feel like this is 1950. The community has no voice, is persistenly misled and given double-speak answers to the hard questions. Why was the school allowed to deteriorate so rapidly when it was clear from the beginning of the school year that the appointed "leadership" was pitifully unqualified? Why did a teacher whose three allegations of corporal punishment go unrecognized? (The teacher has finally been placed on administrative leave; two months after the first allegation was raised.) What does "commitment to work closely with..." really mean?

And why has the mayor, who so skillfully used the Hardy situation to unseat Mr. Fenty and Ms. Rhee been so silent?


What Hardy community? The period of enrollment is a maximum of three years. With attrition, average length of stay is as close to two years as to two. With enrollment growth this year, it is certain that half the students are new. So, on arrival, this new majority become "stakeholders" determining the administration of the school?

Contested terrain, baby; contested terrain. Rhee may have been a fake and foolish, but she correctly spotted a claim of turf. Give up 8:54AM, the Hardy sisterhood is gone and has not been invited back.


Well folks, I guess Kaya showed who is "boss lady".

Put the children first and work with Mr. Shea. Face it, he would have probably preferred to remain downtown looking at schedules since he is the "scheduling expert." I wonder why he could not fix the schedules at Hardy?

Also, after retiring from MC, boy, he must be getting a fat check?

Good luck to Mr. Pope. You served and will continue to serve well. You are coming out on top of this mess and the "boss lady" and Gray--well, you fill in the rest.

Good luck to the Hardy community and perhaps in the end, you will prevail.


So who is going to replace Shea in the central office? It's a revolving door there--almost as bad as at the schools. And we wonder why incompetence continues in so many parts of DCPS. They just keep moving people around and people continue to come and go.

You can't build any type of effective organization with such turnover of staff and you certainly can't turnaround a failing school system.

We are doomed unless we see a drastic change at the top.


Dear Anonymous -
I loved your line. "The community has no voice, is persistenly misled and given double-speak answers to the hard questions." It sums up Mr. Pope's management style in a single sentence. Bravo! Let's move ahead and not back. Mr. Shea is an excellent choice for Interim Principal and we will find someone for the permanent spot who is both qualified and engages parents to take over next year.

Allan Assarsson, Former Hardy Parent

It would be unfair to jump to any firm conclusions about the fitness of Daniel Shea to lead Hardy MS for the remainder of this year.

What I do understand is that he is very close to Dr. Bill Whilhoyte (former Hardy instructional superintendent) who handled the a pathetic and unsuccessful transition effort with principal Nerenberg last spring, and continued to advise her throughout her time at Hardy. Mr. Whilhoyte also enjoys a reputation at DCPS central office as being Machiavellian in the worst possible sense of of the term. Dr. Whilhoyte was also instructional superintendent (IS) of Dunbar HS earlier this year when it imploded; he handed-off Dunbar to another IS soon after DCPS resumed direct control of the school.

I also understand that Mr. Shea provided scheduling input to Nerenberg early in the school year, and was recently brought to the school as part of the Scheduling Task Force as part of the DCPS response to the deteriorating school environment.

Mr. Shea's first week with teachers who have been most upset with the schedule should be very informative. Many of these teachers are master schedulers themselves, and it was primarily the faculty that was responsible for mating the schedule with the needs of the incoming class needs and the curriculum. Although Pope was involved, and ultimately responsible, this was a collaborative effort that balanced the needs of faculty and student body.

Schools are institutions. And the community often comprises many families who have a long history with a school through having multiple children, and then continuing support of the programs. Furthermore, the best schools attract and retain the best teachers (and supporting staff), and this stability is very important to the continuous process of professional growth and mentoring of the faculty.

Principal Pope's efforts to engage the feeder schools were his single biggest shortcoming. Before I was directly involved in the school as a parent, or member of the PTA and LSRT, I must admit that I didn't know what to believe, as the reputation of principal Pope outside school walls was too often very bad. Of course there were also many supporters, many of whom had direct experience as parents and students at Hardy. The general, but not universal rule was that the more people had direct experience with Pope as an educator, the more they liked him.

To learn more, I spoke to many fifth grade teachers (including both in-boundary and out-of-boundary) who wrote the prerequisite student evaluations that were (and still are) the critical element of the Hardy application process. I trust these teachers, and there understanding of pedagogy as it related to our child and the environment that Pope established at Hardy. Their opinions about principal Pope were the most important factor in my wife and my decision to enroll our child at Hardy.

After becoming part of Hardy, working with principal Pope, the teachers and many families, I developed confidence in his abilities and learned why so many teachers respect him; he is a no-nonsense administrator who works collaboratively. He is not, however, someone that suffers fools gladly. For example, his opposition to Rhee's attempts to institute the failed "Capital Gains" program that paid children to go to school and behave was correct, but not politically wise.

Over the past two years, I have personally witnessed too many false rumors, untruths, and outright lies said about Pope and the Hardy community (students, parents, teachers, and staff). The level of deceit and cowardice displayed at almost every level of administration and governance has been most illuminating and sickening to witness.

This includes the "pretended" process that interim Chancellor Henderson was instructed to undertake by Council Chairman Kwame Brown, which instructed her to include the Hardy community in her deliberations about it's future. When the Hardy community became aware of evidence that the selection of an interim principal was made prior to her solicitation of their input, they confronted her about this at a February 2nd meeting. Henderson told the leadership group of parents and teachers that no decision had been made, denied that she even had a shortlist of candidates, and that their input was indeed important. Subsequent to that meeting, the Hardy community was told that Henderson met with an assistant principal of Deal MS on January 24th and offered him the position as Hardy interim principal. Many people inside and outside the Hardy community have heard that Henderson previously sought Deal principal Kim for the post, but that she turned it down. Henderson had originally intended to make the announcement on Friday, but with her "deliberative process" being exposed as a complete sham, she appears to have changed her selection to avoid obvious embarrassment.

So Shea may not even be Kaya Henderson's first choice, or second, or ...

Still, I hope Shea does a great job for the kids and is able to retain as many of the best teachers as possible, as they have had enough of DCPS, and they need an effective leader.