LB principal, assistant principal placed on administrative leave

Date Published: 
January 24, 2014

Lord Baltimore Elementary School got a sudden shake-up in its administration last week, when principal John Turssline and assistant principal Melissa Oates were removed from those positions on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Parents heard the news that night in an automated phone call from Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting that raised as many questions as it answered.

“These changes are not the result of any criminal activity or issues involving the safety and welfare of children,” Bunting emphasized in a statement about the changes. The district would not comment any further on the reasons behind the sudden changes, citing the privacy rules surrounding personnel matters.

Turssline was in his first year at Lord Baltimore, having served as Georgetown Middle School’s assistant principal since 2008.

Oates became LB’s assistant principal in 2010, after being a reading specialist at Phillip C. Showell Elementary since 2004.

Lord Baltimore was overseen on Jan. 16 and 17 by Will Revels, IRSD supervisor of secondary instruction and former Indian River High School assistant principal.

After the Monday holiday, former IRSD assistant superintendent Gary Brittingham stepped out of his recent retirement to temporarily take the helm as principal. Brittingham was formerly the principal and, previously, the assistant principal at East Millsboro Elementary. Overall, Brittingham has spent 32 of his 40 years in education in administrative roles.

“He is well-qualified to lead the school through this transition,” Bunting said of Brittingham in announcing the appointment.

“They’re in good hands over there,” said district spokesperson David Maull.

Meanwhile, Ann Marie Logullo will be acting assistant principal at Lord Baltimore. She is on loan from Southern Delaware School of the Arts, which will temporarily manage with just one administrator.

“Mrs. Logullo … has held a variety of administrative positions in our district. She also possesses strong leadership skills and will be an asset to the school staff,” said Bunting in her statement.

Both will remain in those roles until the IRSD Board of Education hires permanent replacements.

Human resources began advertising for a Lord Baltimore principal on Jan. 16. The closing date for applications was Jan. 23, with a starting date of Feb. 15 for the person hired.

Once a permanent principal is installed, Maull said, the district will search for the second-in-command.

Turssline and Oats are on administrative leave with pay until the board decides what action to take. The next board meeting is Monday, Jan. 27. Personnel issues are discussed in closed executive sessions.

“The district will provide support to the school during this process, to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure children continue to get the best possible educational experience,” Bunting wrote, reiterating her assurances of the children’s continued safety. “We thank parents for their patience and understanding during this time of change.”