BROOKSVILLE - After the state issued the Hernando County School District's first F grade this year at Eastside Elementary, School Superintendent Lori Romano held a conference call with district staff about a change of leadership at the school.
Administrators quickly agreed if there was a principal that could turn the school around, it was Brooksville Principal Mary LeDoux.
"When we look at a school in desperate need like Eastside, according to state statute we need a highly effective principal," Romano said. "(LeDoux is) a leader of leaders. She has either increased or maintained the school grade at Brooksville Elementary, and has a track record, if you will, for school improvement."
LeDoux was training outside the county Monday when the conversation took place, and was contacted via phone about being the next principal for the school, according to Romano.
"Normally I'd bring her in face-to-face," Romano said. "The conversation that we had on the phone; I think her focus is our focus, which is to do the best for the students in our community."
LeDoux could not be reached for comment.
The state's evaluation of Eastside, and Florida Department of Education requirements to improve the school, did not provide the district the same luxury of time it had when filling the principal void at Explorer K-8.
Unable to get into specifics Monday about the district's turnaround plan for the school, which is done through FDOE's Differentiated Accountability Office, Romano said the district will hold a follow-up meeting with LeDoux today.
A school district must submit a plan to implement a "turnaround option" in the first full school year after a school earns an F grade.
Once approved by the state board, the turnaround option must be implemented the following school year.
The report lists five options, including converting the school to a district-managed turnaround school, reassigning students to another school while monitoring the progress of each reassigned student, closing then reopening the school as one or more charter schools or contracting with an outside entity.
A district can also implement a hybrid of turnaround options established by the department, or implement an alternative turnaround model with a demonstrated record of effectiveness.
The state issued a preliminary C grade to Explorer K-8 for the 2012-13 school year, which is a grade the school has maintained with increasing state standards.
Romano said the school's exceptional student education program was one of the major factors taken into account when choosing Professional Development Director Barbara Kidder as next principal.
"I think she brings a wealth of experience related to multiple facets in the district," Romano said. "It's a cluster site for students with disabilities, and she brings strong background in professional development."
Kidder could not be reached for comment.