Barbara Harris, the Palo Alto school district’s chief academic officer for elementary schools, plans to resign from her post this June, she announced in an email to administrators on Friday.
Harris said she decided over the winter break “that it was a perfect transition after five years of service in Palo Alto to think about doing something different.” She cited a recent illness also as “an indicator that it was time to make a change.”
“The elementary team and I have accomplished a high standard of excellence,” Harris wrote. “I leave my position with great pride in my work and with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.”
Harris said she has an appointment with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) in a few weeks but is unsure if she will retire.
Harris started in Palo Alto as an assistant principal at JLS Middle School in 2013. A longtime California teacher, she also was the founding principal for two charter schools, one in Los Angeles and the other in Memphis, Tennessee, according to the district. She had also previously worked as the manager of elementary curriculum and instruction in the San Jose Unified School District.
Harris was promoted to director of elementary education in 2014. The next year, former superintendent Max McGee moved her and several other district administrators to higher-level director positions; Harris was named chief academic officer for the elementary schools.
Harris oversaw several key changes at the elementary level in recent years, including the move to full-day kindergarten and the adoption of a new mathematics curriculum.
Harris is the fourth school administrator to announce a departure in the last two weeks. Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio announced Friday she will resign at the end of the school year; Chief Budget Official Cathy Mak plans to retire in October; and Escondido Elementary School Principal Chuck Merritt will leave at the end of the school year.
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