Vargas Elementary principal resigns shortly before new school's grand opening | June 7, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 7, 2019

Vargas Elementary principal resigns shortly before new school's grand opening

Graham Middle School's assistant principal Vern Taylor named to replace him

by Kevin Forestieri

After spending a year leading a school that has yet to open, Vargas Elementary School's principal announced his resignation, effective June 30. The new school is set to open in less than three months.

Principal Michael Jones announced his resignation in an email sent to parents Friday, May 31, stating that he needed "flexibility" to travel from the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates, where his family resides. He said completing his family's immigration into the U.S. is an ongoing process that will continue over the next year.

Just days after Michael Jones announced his resignation, Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told parents in an email June 3 that Vern Taylor, assistant principal at Graham Middle School, would be taking over as the new principal of Vargas Elementary.

Jones described his departure as "bittersweet" and said he was grateful to work with the future school community in the Whisman and Slater neighborhoods of Mountain View.

"Thank you for the opportunity to work as the instructional leader of what I know will be a learning institution of excellence," Jones said in the email. "Thank you for your trust and for our time working alongside each other as we prepared Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary for our children."

Jones, selected by district administrators in May 2018, previously held an executive position overseeing a cluster of schools in Abu Dhabi for three years. Before that, he worked for five years as a principal at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a school district in Charlotte, North Carolina.

District administrators hired Jones before the new school on the former Slater campus was named. Students in the northeast end of Mountain View have been divided between Theuerkauf, Huff and Landels elementary school campuses, and many of those children attend the district's choice programs in lieu of neighborhood schools.

In addition to planning for the opening of Vargas Elementary, Jones spent the early part of his brief stint in Mountain View Whisman as interim principal for Stevenson Elementary, filling in while its principal, Rebecca Westover, was out on personal leave, according to the district website. After that, he focused on "staffing and logistics" for Vargas.

"I am confident that the next leader of Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary will guide its successful opening," Jones said in his email to parents.

Taylor, an 11-year district employee, taught at Castro Elementary before becoming an instructional coach in 2014. He was appointed to be assistant principal at Graham Middle School in October 2017, just five months before the school board voted in March 2018 to remove Kim Thompson as principal of Graham and reassigned the other assistant principal, Heidi Galassi, to be the principal of Landels Elementary School.

Taylor joined Graham at a critical time when a new "cascading" eight-period schedule was rolled out, along with a new co-teaching model to support students with special needs.

Rudolph said Taylor was selected as principal on an accelerated timeline so he could prepare for the opening of Vargas Elementary over the summer, and that he is qualified to lead the school.

"I know Mr. Taylor will hit the ground running and build on the Vargas planning set in place," Rudolph said in the email. "We are excited for him, a well-respected educator, to move into this position that supports our students and the new Vargas community."

Taylor did not immediately respond to the Voice's requests for comment.

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