STORY UPDATED on May 3 at 3:35 p.m.
There will be a new principal at George Washington Middle School in Lyons next year. On May 3, the Lyons School District 103 Board of Education voted 4-0 to approve the hiring of Joshua Dakins as the new principal and athletic director at GWMS. He will replace Carol Baker, who has been the principal for the last two years.
Dakins is an assistant principal at Bardwell Elementary School in Aurora, a post he has held since 2019. From 2013 to 2016 Dakins was the principal at Currier Elementary School in West Chicago. He resigned from that position in 2016, said Angelica Romano, the HR director for West Chicago District 33.
Prior to becoming principal at Currier, Dakins was an assistant principal at Leman Middle School in West Chicago for six years.
According to his Facebook page Dakins grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and received his bachelor’s degree from Carroll University, also in Waukesha. He also has a graduate degree from National-Louis University.
As principal of George Washington Middle School, Dakins will be paid an annual salary of $117,000.
Baker is the third consecutive principal to spend only two years at GWMS, following two year stints by Don Jones and Christopher Cybulski. The frequent turnover at the principal position is hurting students, said Toni Jackman, a seventh-grade science teacher at GWMS and the president of the District 103 teachers union.
Jackman said that a new principal will be the 10th at GWMS since the institution became a middle school in 2000. No GWMS principal has ever stayed at the school for more than four years.
“We as a school has suffered through a revolving door of principals and assistant principals in the 22 years we’ve been a middle school,” Jackman said.
“It takes a minimum of three years for even the best principal in the best of time with his or her staff to jell to the point where progress is made,” Jackman said. “Every time we get a new principal it’s like starting over. Our kids can’t wait for a new principal to get up to speed to have their needs met.”
The turnover at the top makes it difficult to retain good teachers, Jackman said.
“With each good principal we’ve lost we’ve also lost very good teachers,” Jackman said. “Our kids deserve better.”
Baker served as the superintendent of Lyons-Brookfield District 103 from 2016 to 2018 when she left to take an assistant superintendent job in Hinsdale High School District 86.
After her contract was not renewed by District 86 two years later, Baker returned to District 103 as principal at GWMS and was also given the title of assistant superintendent, a position the school board voted to eliminate in March.
Discipline has been an issue at GWMS this year, especially with eighth-graders, said a teacher who spoke to the Landmark on condition of anonymity because she feared retaliation. The teacher said there have been numerous fights and that one student who brought a knife to school was not expelled.
Superintendent Kristopher Rivera said Baker was offered a 10-month principal job but she declined it. Multiple sources say that Baker was offered the job as principal at Edison School to replace the retiring Jan Bernard but that she rejected it.
Last week, the school board voted unanimously to hire Lincoln Elementary School Assistant Principal Brandon Baisden to replace Bernard as principal at Edison School next year.
Baker did not respond to requests for comment.
Jackman said that GWMS teachers were not involved in the interviewing process that resulted in Dakins being hired.
“I know nothing about the new principal and although I reached out to Mr. Rivera about teachers being involved in the process, he never responded,” Jackman said.