Nir Saar, the first principal of a high-profile new school in Detroit, has been placed on administrative leave related to unspecified allegations just two months after the School at Marygrove opened its doors.
The district said in a statement that the alleged behavior happened before Saar was placed at Marygrove, and that the allegations “are not related to the direct health, welfare or safety of students.”
Saar declined to comment.
His departure is a significant bump in the road for the school he helped launch.
He was tapped to lead the school after serving as principal of Mumford Academy, a school-within-a-school that produced a high attendance rate and strong academic results.
After Mumford Academy was folded back into Mumford High School, Saar was tasked with helping to set up an ambitious new “cradle-to-career” school on the campus of Marygrove College, which is closing permanently in December.
Backed by $50 million from the Kresge Foundation, the school combines several education reform ideas in a single campus. The K-12 curriculum, which was designed with help from education experts at the University of Michigan, is structured around projects and real-world learning. The school’s new teachers will be trained through an innovative process modeled on medical residency programs, in another collaboration with the university. And there will be a high-quality preschool program on-site.
The school currently only enrolls ninth-graders. The district plans to add 10th grade and kindergarten classes next year, with the goal of eventually enrolling grades K-12.
The district said in its statement that it is still committed to the school.
Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the School of Education at the university, said in a statement that the partnership wouldn’t be hurt by Saar’s departure.
“Any school-level administrative changes at the School at Marygrove will have no impact on the strength of our partnership between Detroit Public Schools Community District and the School of Education or with any of our other partners. We have strong confidence in Interim Principal Adrian Monge and her ability to help all the partners carry out the vision of the Detroit P20 collaboration.”
Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program, echoed that sentiment.
“The Kresge Foundation, like the other partners in the P-20 Cradle to Career campus at Marygrove, is committed to its development as a campus for more than 1,000 students and a new model for anchoring a community’s economic development in quality education,” she said. “Any individual personnel change will not impact our resolve or ability to pursue this vision.”
The district’s ambitions for the school under Saar’s leadership were high.
In July, it posted a letter from Saar to Detroit families saying that the new school “seeks to change the conversation around what education should look like in the 21st century.”
Saar’s departure has apparently been official for at least a week. His replacement, Adrian Monge, the former assistant principal, posted on LinkedIn a week ago that the school is looking for an assistant principal. Monge’s current title is Interim Principal.
The job posting has now been removed from the district’s website.
The district’s full statement:
“Please be advised that due to a preliminary investigation related to allegations prior to placement at Marygrove, Principal Saar has been placed on administrative leave. The allegations are not related to the direct health, welfare or safety of students. During the investigation Assistant Principal Monge has been promoted to the Interim Principal and will assume lead for administrative responsibilities. Please be assured that this decision will have no impact on the District’s commitment to the School at Marygrove.”