Assistant principal backed for promotion

Parents and teachers want Darlene Carter to ascend at Northwest Elementary School.

Published November 6, 2005

ODESSA - Parents and teachers of Northwest Elementary School are ready for a new principal.

They're pushing for the school's assistant principal of 11 years, Darlene Carter. Hard.

More than 100 parents and teachers have flooded the superintendent's office with e-mails, letters and petitions supporting Carter, 54, for the job.

"She is always the one everyone comes to for leadership and help," counselor Helen Mason wrote.

To be sure, no one at Northwest wanted this day to come. Former principal Mark Dafeldecker, who died in September, was close to universally beloved.

But with his passing, the school has needed guidance. And some at Northwest contend that the delay in naming a successor has left the the school community worried about what leadership the future will bring.

Chief-of-staff Ken Otero said he understands the passion. Yet school district leaders try to maintain respect for any principal who passed away before filling his or her chair, he explained.

"We try not to do it at the very next advertising opportunity," he said. "We try to be sensitive."

Otero expects the job to be filled before January.

PTA president Toni Wasp said she launched the Carter campaign at the behest of the school's staff, which had united behind the assistant principal and wanted parents to join them.

All her research revealed that Carter would best suit Northwest in its time of transition.

"Thanks to her, there wasn't a blip on the screen," Wasp said, referring to the time after Dafeldecker died. "She got our children and our faculty back on track during a really rough period."

Some parents have said they plan to attend the School Board meeting Tuesday to push the issue. Carter did not return calls seeking comment.

- Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at 813 269-5304 or solochek@sptimes.com