Principal Noel Green Resigns Abruptly, Leaving Community in Shock

Noel+Green%27s+photo+on+the+BHS+website.

Noel Green’s photo on the BHS website.

Nora Jacobsen and Anna Huener

On Friday evening, January 8, Burlington High School Principal Noel Green shocked the BHS community by resigning, effective immediately. The resignation came in the form of an email sent to Superintendent Tom Flanagan, shortly after 5 p.m.

Later Friday evening, Flanagan sent a statement to Burlington High School students and parents announcing the resignation. “I am writing tonight to confirm that this evening Principal Green offered his resignation, effective immediately,” Flanagan wrote. “I will be in touch in the coming days with a plan forward and I ask for your patience over the weekend.”

While this school year has been filled with multiple unfortunate surprises—from Covid-19 to PCBs—Principal Green’s sudden departure was on no one’s radar. 

“There must have been something majorly wrong, especially because he resigned with absolutely no notice,” Ward 7 Commissioner, Monika Ivancic, said. 

I, too, want to know more, where he felt these external pressures of a lack of support. Without receiving communication or emails, I’m left to the same questions as the public, as to why this resignation happened.”

— Clare Wool, Burlington School Board Chair and Ward 6 Commissioner

Although Green did not provide an explanation for the timing of his resignation, or why it was effective immediately, he hinted at dissatisfaction with his treatment by elected leaders. In an email sent to his faculty and staff on Friday evening, Green pointed to his continued interim status as a reason. Green has been Interim Principal since July of 2018. 

“As many of you know, I applied for the permanent position a couple of years ago, was selected as the finalist, but denied ultimate approval from the board,” Green wrote. “On numerous occasions, I sought an audience with the board to determine why my situation had been decided as such and was never given the opportunity, which in my opinion was highly disrespectful. As such, I determined that I would certainly have to look out for my own interests.”

Flanagan was scheduled to recommend Green for the permanent principal position at the upcoming school board meeting, Tuesday, January, 12 and had already announced the news to the BHS Lead Teacher Committee on Thursday. Flanagan said Green knew he was to be recommended for the position, and knew he had the support of the School Board. 

The unusual circumstances of the situation have caused widespread confusion among faculty and staff.

“What I got back from most people I talked to was that they were shocked and stunned by his resignation,” Burlington Education Association President, Andrew Styles, said. “I don’t think anyone knew it was coming.”

Green’s email to BHS faculty and staff did little to clear up this confusion.

“Significant external pressure this year to run BHS in a way not consistent with my beliefs in regard to leadership has left me with no choice,” Green wrote. 

Yet what Green meant by “external pressure” is left unclear.  Green could not be reached for comment.

“I, too, want to know more, where he felt these external pressures of a lack of support,” Burlington School Board Chair and Ward 6 Commissioner, Clare Wool, said. “Without receiving communication or emails, I’m left to the same questions as the public, as to why this resignation happened.”

Superintendent Tom Flanagan
Photo: BSD Website

Green’s resignation has prompted district administration to reflect. 

“Principal Green was expressing frustration with support,” Flanagan said. “…I haven’t spoken with him yet, but he wanted to feel that he was supported and that he was in a position that he could feel successful in.” 

Per Flanagan, the specific type of support Green sought was not communicated in his email. 

Ivancic suggested pressure to participate in leadership coaching may have been a contributing factor to Green’s resignation.

“I believe he said something that he didn’t agree with managing the leadership,” Ivancic said. “I know that our new Superintendent was going to find some coaching for him in being principal of the high school, and possibly, he wasn’t happy with that kind of model. I think the goal was to improve his style of leadership.” 

This leadership coaching was not only directed at Green, but to all new Principals in the district.

“I know that our superintendent was working with all of our new principals on opportunities for growth and development, and that’s very standard and supportive,” Wool said. 

Styles suspects the ‘external pressure’ Green referred to could have been the transition to Edmunds for Wednesday in-person learning, and being generally overwhelmed by the chaos of this year. 

BHS students at Edmunds
Photo: Anessa Conner/BHS Register

“There may have been some pressure to try to get everyone moved to Edmunds before they were ready to really think out the plan and I don’t really know if that played a role in [his decision to resign] or not,” Styles said. 

Since Green’s announcement on Friday night, Superintendent Flanagan has worked with his cabinet to determine the next steps and assemble a new leadership team. In a statement sent to the district, Flanagan announced Assistant Principal Lauren McBride will step up as Acting Principal. Herb Perez will remain in the position of Assistant Principal and long-time BHS teacher Gayle Botelho will serve as Acting Assistant Principal. The new leadership team declined an interview with The Register, citing time constraints.

Flanagan also announced that an internal search for an interim principal would open on Monday, January 11. The position will end at the beginning of the next school year, to avoid another long-term interim position. The District’s next steps are to launch a national search for a permanent principal.

Despite the unexpected chaos and changes in leadership, Flanagan is confident in the new leadership team and optimistic about the future.

“I feel really good about the leadership,” Flanagan said. “…One of the things that [Green] did was he brought in some really great people, so there’s a strong team of leaders at BHS right now who are able to just fill in those roles to continue to lead the school.”