Several Top Officials Leave NASSP In Wake of Restructuring
One year after taking the helm of the troubled National Association of Secondary School Principals, Gerald N. Tirozzi has engineered a major reorganization that has led to the departure of four top deputies.
Mr. Tirozzi, who took over as the executive director of the Reston, Va.-based group in the wake of a controversy over the organization's finances, announced the restructuring at a staff meeting in mid-February. A memo that followed outlined the elimination of a host of positions and offered affected employees the chance to reapply for new posts with revised job descriptions.
The change has met with mixed reactions. Some whose jobs were eliminated were philosophical and supportive, saying the change would better position the NASSP to serve its 42,000 members in the future.
But others were shaken and angry that Mr. Tirozzi had made such major changes without soliciting their advice. "Morale here is pretty bad," said one employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. "People are anxious, and rumors are flying."
The change affects only the programming side of the association, which offers a range of services to principals and student leaders. Untouched is the operational side, which includes such departments as communications, membership, finance, legal, and government relations.
Under the old organization, six discrete program departments focused on the areas of high schools, middle schools, assistant principals, urban schools, leadership development, and student activities, each with its own director. They, in turn, were overseen by a deputy executive director for school leadership services, Raymond Lemley.
John Lammel, who headed the high schools department, is returning to his native Nebraska, where he will be a consultant to public schools. Sue Galletti, who headed the middle school department, is joining the Galef Institute in Los Angeles, and Gwendolyn Cooke, who led the urban-services department, has become an associate superintendent in Savannah, Ga. The position of director for assistant- principal services had been vacant. The directors of leadership development and student activities, Dick Flanary and Rocco Marano, respectively, will continue to oversee those areas.
Several administrative assistants are leaving, and others are reapplying for positions in-house, said Steve Yurek, the NASSP's general counsel.
Mr. Lemley, who held one of the highest-ranking jobs in the association, said he would return to the Florida principal-training company he owns with his wife. "I'm 62, and I'm a pragmatist," he said with a chuckle. "I can see that we need to change and to be responsive to a whole range of things."
The new system is organized by subject matter instead of school level, a change Mr. Tirozzi said would be more responsive to the needs of the members who call in with a wide variety of needs and questions. The structure now comprises three departments: instructional technology, school improvement, and leadership development.
Ms. Cooke, the former director of the urban-services department, said she was aware that some at the NASSP office were grumbling about Mr. Tirozzi's "top down" style of management, but said last week that she believed he handled the change professionally.
"He had been talking all year about organizational changes," said Ms. Cooke, who secured her new job in Georgia because she knew from many conversations with Mr. Tirozzi that her department would be changing. "It's not as if this was a surprise."
Mr. Tirozzi said the reorganization was part of an overall turnaround of the association. In the year ending in June 1998, the group had suffered a $2.5 million loss, due in large part to a pension-fund shortfall under the previous administration, but a year later its net profits had increased by $1.9 million, Mr. Yurek said.
Mr. Tirozzi praised what he called the "resiliency" of the organization, pointing out that it is now healthy enough to give employees raises and a profit-sharing retirement plan, increase contributions to its long-term reserve, and put a new roof on its headquarters. "We've turned around this organization," Mr. Tirozzi said.
John Lewis, the president of the group's board of directors and the principal of Woodland Middle School in Woodland, Wash., said the board had asked Mr. Tirozzi to assess the organization's structure and gave him the latitude to make the changes deemed necessary. He added that Mr. Tirozzi has kept the board well-informed of his ideas and plans.
Mr. Lewis acknowledged that he sensed "uneasiness" in the suburban Washington headquarters during a recent visit, but expressed faith that the end result would justify the trying times of the transition. "When you go through change," he said, "there is a certain amount of upheaval, but when we get there it will be a good thing."
Vol. 19, Issue 28, Page 8Published in Print: March 22, 2000, as Several Top Officials Leave NASSP In Wake of Restructuring