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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Failure of Leadership at Mayport Middle School

If you don’t remember, a few weeks back the principal at Mayport Middle released teacher’s evaluations to the general public, she says it was an accident. That the evaluations were an attachment on another document and she just didn’t notice.

When this happened I was asked what I thought and I said, if she has been a good principal and has supported her faculty and staff then we should let bygones be bygones, but if she has been a bully masquerading as an administrator then there should be consequences, though I used the words, fry her.

Well as more information has been released and more teachers have come forward, though anonymously because they fear retaliation, it is looking more and more like the district should do the latter.

Katrina McCray has been at Mayport Middle School since 2007.  She was placed in her position by then-superintendent Joseph Wise. She claims that she released the CAST evaluation data by mistake because she was emailing the EOC student scores and the CAST evaluation attachment was embedded in the message. 

The problem with this excuse is Education Matters has been told that she had already sent the EOC scores out in a previous message. If this is true it shoots down her already flimsy excuse.

People might be asking what the big deal is, aren’t the evaluations going to be public notice anyway? Well yes they are after a year but the real problem is twofold. First the evaluation process itself is so flawed that it is not to be believed. Senate President Don Geatz said just the other day we have a looming accountability disaster. Evaluations are pretty much divided into two sections, how kids did on standardized tests using a very complicated and wildly unpredictable formula called value added and the principals personal feelings about a teacher. If the principal doesn’t care for you even if your students score incredibly high you can get a bad evaluation, likewise if the principal likes you but your kids score at the bottom of the heap you can get a good evaluation. 

The second problem is poor leaders throughout the district. Many are vindictive and petty and have a desire to squeeze out veteran teachers and to replace them with easily malible rookies who will either do anything to keep their jobs or who don’t stick around long enough to know any better. There is a huge leadership problem in the district because whom you know rather than your ability determined promotions for the last half dozen years and bad leaders give bad evaluations.

It seems Mrs. McCray may fall into the second group as this is how she was characterized to me, sadly you could hear the same about dozens of other principals in the district.          : 

The principal has repeatedly said that she does not care if she hurts teachers' 'feelings' because she is working on behalf of the students.  This is a false argument because it implies that she is the only person who cares about the students.  While she has begged for mercy from the superintendent, she rarely affords the same second chance to her subordinates.  The school's FAME morale surveys are rather telling about her abuse of the faculty.  Furthermore, faculty and staff have left in droves because she fails to support them in light of student misbehavior and she forces them to work themselves almost to death without anything close to a thank you. The school has also had more than its share of faculty hospitalized due to stress and mental issues and yet she continues to move full speed ahead.

She doesn’t care if she hurts teacher’s feelings. Bullies and sociopaths are two other groups that don’t care if they hurt people feelings.

The superintendent should revisit this matter and if it turns out she runs her school like a kingdom where she is free from consequences and teachers bear the brunt of her injurious actions then she should be removed and a leader who cares about the entire school community should be put in her place. 


  1. Sounds like you've been taking to the right people, hopefully the superintendent does too. I have close personal friends who are currently victims of this dictator.

  2. hi chris. you don't know me, but i use to be a teacher at mayport middle. i left because of mccray. your blog is spot on! i still communicate with mayport teachers, and they say the stress is unbelievable, unless you are in her favorite group. mccray makes no secret about that. sad.

  3. You hit a home run my friend

  4. This is unfortunately how the system works in Duval County. Principals are permitted to become benevolent dictators in their schools because the district protects these folks who are climbing the taxpayer-funded corporate ladder. Unfortunately, many of these principals stop being benevolent because they can get away with bullying the teachers and staff who are working to serve the students.
    If we have a supervisor in any capacity who drives their subordinates to tears, nervous breakdowns, depression and anxiety, they are held accountable. The problem is that there is no underling who is going to risk the retaliation that comes with blowing the whistle on the petty dictators who run our schools.
    I am curious to know how many principals are currently working right now with the mindset that fear is the great motivator. Is it any wonder that schools are floundering when abusive administrators continue to lead with terror and contempt. As long as the new superintendent continues to play the same games that previous superintendents have, there will be no real reason for anybody to enter the teaching profession in Duval County.
    I bet we all want to know why these men and women are not putting a name to their concerns, fears and grievances. The answer is obvious. They are powerless as long as the hand that wields the whip is the one that can make their lives hell.
    Mrs. McCray and any other principal like her needs to go.

  5. There are two sides to every story. I have known Ms. McCray since 1998. She was an excellent teacher who showed great care for her students. She is direct and no-nonsense, but she also helped prepare confident, successful students for the upper grades. She was an excellent colleague. People that know her personally know she would never have knowingly done what she accidentally did.

  6. As a previous Mayport MS teacher, I have to agree with the majority. The student behavior issues are huge and there is absolutely no support from the principal's office. Furthermore, teachers are told they have to change failing grades by the principal so the school doesn't "look bad". It has nothing to do with the FACT that the student failed. This is prevalent in all Duval County schools. Something needs to be done!

  7. The lady isnt nice and doesnt lead through motivation but through fear. Having subbed their before and talked to few teachers who dont suck up to her( I wont name them ) she is harsh. When she is in the building everyones shoulders are down. She has her favorites and if you get on her bad side goodluck.

  8. I was a student at MMS a few years ago and I spent my whole middle school career there. And looking back on my three years there I have never seen any "abuse" or "mistreatment" towards anybody coming from McCray. I was very close to McCray and we got along very well. She is an open book and is very passionate about her job. She does not get involved in matters that can be dealt with by the other faculty but that doesn't mean she doesn't care. McCray knows everything that goes on in MMS and she does the best she can to make it a better school. Some of the staff have a hard time accepting the fact that someone else is in charge. McCray has a strong personality and she is very confident on who she is and some people do not know how to handle that. I am getting ready to be a Sophomore and I have sadly moved away from Florida do to my parents job requirements. But when I first came into high school I had a great deal of discipline and obedience and that is one thing I will always respect McCray for, she taught me how to be the best student I could be. I am a honors student because of McCray. She straightened me out and I thank her completely for that. McCray is not a bad principal she just takes her job more seriously.

  9. I am an employee at MMS now. McCray is still the same. Rude and a bully. Still getting away with saying and doing hurtful things and lying on others. The Union is a joke. Dont even waste your time. Get your own personal attorney if you can afford to.