The principal credited with boosting Pahokee High School’s graduation rate by 16 percentage points in the 2013-14 school year is leaving that job to work for the man who put him there.
Adrian Ocampo, a 45-year-old with 19 years in Palm Beach County schools, has been named principal at Port St. Lucie High and will report to public schools superintendent Wayne Gent.
That’s the second Palm Beach County principal Gent has poached this summer.
Last week, we reported Jupiter High Principal Dan Frank is headed north to be Gent’s Executive Director of Schools.
In January 2014, Gent riled Glades residents when he replaced longtime principal Ariel Alejo with Ocampo, who was the principal at Watson B. Duncan Middle in Palm Beach Gardens.
School Board member Marcia Andrews said Gent indicated the move was an attempt to improve the school which was struggling academically, earning a D grade from the state at the time. The problem wasn’t so much Gent’s choice, but how he made it – without community input, both Andrews and Pahokee’s mayor at the time complained.
Almost a year later, the school received a second D, but under Ocampo, the graduation had risen to 90 percent.
“It is a small school, we have less than 100 students in our senior class so we focus on them individually. We devote a lot of resources and a lot of time. We make their graduation a priority.
“We have one guidance counselor just devoted to our seniors. You ask her about one and she can tell you everything about them. What their grades are, what tests they’ve taken, what we can do to help,” Ocampo said at the time. The following year, the school moved up to a C, and Ocampo said this week he believes based on a review of student scores it will be a high C when grades come out again this year.
While Ocampo was celebrated for that achievement, his wife, also a principal in the district, has had a rocky year.
Atlantic High School principal Tara Dellegrotti-Ocampo was reprimanded in March for marching in through the back office of her former school and scolding a former employee. By June, she had a second reprimand in her file, this one for her role in permitting a fire-breathing stunt at a school pep rally. The stunt in the school gym went awry as the performer accidentally ignited himself in front of 2,000 students. No students were injured, but he suffered second-degree burns.
She will be staying Ocampo said. “Tara is committed to Atlantic High School and Palm Beach County. I had a wonderful 19 years in Palm Beach County. I’m looking forward to this next chapter. “
St. Lucie County’s deputy schools superintendent is also a former principal in Palm Beach County schools. In 2003, Jon Prince was at the helm of Verde Elementary and the next year moved to Palm Beach Gardens High, according to his biography on the district’s website. He worked at other schools outside Palm Beach County before landing the deputy superintendent’s job in the summer of 2015.