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Reviews mostly positive for charter school director

MARBLEHEAD – Nina Cullen Hamzeh, the interim academic director of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School, is proficient and exemplary – but in the course of a four-hour evaluation meeting Thursday the school trustees had to acknowledge that she wasn’t perfect.An announcement emailed to parents and other interested parties Friday morning stated simply that Cullen Hamzeh was rated in the top two levels in a number of areas for her job performance this year, and said the board has entered into negotiations with her for a contract for next year.”I’m happy, I love my job and I love the kids,” she told the trustees during Thursday’s meeting.However, she had to admit she had “some disgruntled employees.””I go out of my way to treat everyone with dignity and respect. It’s impossible to please everybody,” she said. “You should take this with a grain of salt.”The trustees noted that 91 percent of the school parents surveyed said Cullen Hamzeh was fair and equitable most or all of the time – but only 70 percent of the faculty felt that way. The school has 35 staff members and 27 responded to the survey. Nine of those respondents said she was fair and equitable less than most of the time, and five said it was less than some of the time.Trustees took their time discussing that issue because last spring a similar reaction involving parents resulted in the former head of school being placed on administrative leave and a sharp reduction in school enrollment.Cullen Hamzeh took over a school suffering from sub-par enrollment, finances and morale last fall, and she has worked to rebuild enrollment over the first six months.She began the evaluation meeting with an overview of the situation she walked into and the efforts she made to rebuild trust in the community and incorporate a large new population from a variety of communities.She particularly cited her accessibility, openness and transparency as key parts of her efforts to regain trust in the community. She acknowledged that it has been a long, hard year of full days, but that the extra work was needed to rebuild the school community and trust. She also cited the challenges of continuing to assimilate students on a weekly basis, and the strain that placed on the staff.Trustees noted that she clearly put enormous effort into her work, which was intensified by the timing and an environment in crisis.She was evaluated on categories that a board subcommittee created to define her position and those named in her contract. The evaluation included surveys of parents and teachers.The trustees rated her Exemplary in her Constructive Disagreement management skills and her personal characteristics of Resilience, Integrity, Legal and Ethical Behavior, Student Safety and Parental Relations.They rated her Proficient in her Reporting and Documentation, Decision-Making Structure, and Decision-Making management skills, her leadership Vision and Strategic Priorities, working with students in Academic Goal Setting and Continuous Student Improvement, working with the faculty in Faculty Development, Staffing and Professional Development, and her personal quality of Emotional Self Control.The trustees did not rate her on personal improvement this year but noted that she has sought additional training and licensing.

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