Harrisburg School District names interim John Harris High School principal


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — New year, same mentality for Harrisburg School District Receiver Dr. Janet Samuels.

“We should promise ourselves that in the new year, we stay focused on the children, we stay steadfast, and we all own this together,” she said.

Part of owning that means starting fresh. On Tuesday, former John Harris Principal Jamie Foster was moved to assistant principal at Camp Curtin. Earlier this month, she was removed from her position as principal.

In the interim, Dr. Jay Butterfield, a former J.P. McCaskey East High Principal, will take over in a 90-day maximum contract.

“The importance of having stable leadership at John Harris is critical to the recovery of the Harrisburg School District,” said Acting Superintendent Christopher Celmer.

Its importance isn’t lost on Harrisburg residents. One woman questioned the turnover and frequent shifts in employment during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

“I think that’s a critical issue that as a taxpayer, as a parent or just a member of the community,” said Harrisburg resident, Melanie Cook. “Is this an unusual amount of teachers who are leaving?”

Celmer said his focus is on whose staying. The district will conduct a local, state and a national search for a leader ready to transform the district and who isn’t afraid to make major changes.

“If that takes time, it takes time, but we’re gonna do a comprehensive search. We’re not just going to react and just try to fill the position,” Celmer said.

So help may be wanted, but a hero is what’s needed.

“Students of John Harris deserve every opportunity that any other student has in neighboring districts, statewide and nationally,” he said.

Dr. Butterfield’s last role was the director of secondary education for the Lancaster School District.

For the past 11 years, he supervised all secondary schools in Lancaster. District leaders said they are thrilled to have an interim principal with urban school experience.

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