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Right man – Dunwoody’s loss, Decatur’s gain


Right man – Dunwoody’s loss, Decatur’s gain

Noel Maloof, the new principal of Decatur High.
Noel Maloof, the new principal of Decatur High.

Noel Maloof, the new principal of Decatur High.

Things just haven’t gone Dunwoody’s way this year.

Parents fed up with DeKalb County Schools pushed the state Legislature to pass a bill allowing Dunwoody and Brookhaven to create their own school systems. The Legislature wouldn’t support it.

Now the principal of Dunwoody High School is leaving for a job closer to home. During last night’s City Schools of Decatur Board of Education Meeting, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards announced that Noel Maloof would be the next Decatur High School principal. He will leave Dunwoody at the end of this school year.

“Every reference I checked had stellar comments to make about you,” Edwards told Maloof during the meeting.

When Decaturish.com broke the news, it came as a shock to many in the Dunwoody community.

“Noel Maloof’s departure from Dunwoody High School is a blow to Dunwoody,” Dunwoody City Councilman Terry Nall said via Twitter. “He will be missed, but we wish him well.”

Dunwoody News, a Twitter feed that aggregates news stories about the city, wrote, “”Dunwoody runs off yet another DHS principal. Maloof headed to the beautiful Decatur HS campus.”

The Dunwoody High community has struggled with leadership stability over the last few years. When Maloof became Dunwoody High’s principal in 2012, he took over at a school that had just lost its principal and its assistant principal.

He was principal of Vanderlyn Elementary School in Dunwoody from 2008 to 2012, and was assistant principal of Dunwoody High from 2005 to 2008. Decaturish.com asked Maloof whether he had any regrets leaving the high school after two years given its recent struggles to find a leader who will stay put. Maloof said he didn’t, because he mentored capable administrators while he was principal at Vanderlyn and Dunwoody High.

“I’ve spent the last six years as a principal working with all the assistant principals. Two former assistant principals are now serving as principals,” he said.

Maloof told the school board that leaving the Dunwoody community was a tough decision, but said he is “excited” to lead Decatur High.

Maloof is 44 and has two kids in City Schools of Decatur. He began his educational career in 1997 as an English teacher at DeKalb Alternative School, teaching the “wayward youth of the world,” as he put it. He became assistant principal at the alternative school in 2004. He’s lived in Decatur for 22 years and is a distant relative of Manuel Maloof, the famous Chief Executive of DeKalb County.

In his 20’s, he worked briefly as a guide for rock climbers in Colorado, when his knees were in better shape. Now the man who climbed mountains faces hurdles at his new school. While Decatur High has a top-notch graduation rate, it’s also pressured by the system’s explosive growth. Maloof was one of two candidates selected by a committee of parents looking for a replacement for Lauri McKain, who will become CSD’s Director of Secondary Education.

When Decaturish mentioned to Edwards that some Dunwoody parents were upset that Maloof is leaving, she said that the school system didn’t have to solicit candidates for the job. She said CSD received numerous applications, including Maloof’s, after she announced McKain’s promotion.

Edwards said when she interviewed Maloof she liked the detail and thoughtfulness of his answers to her questions.

“I think he’s a strong leader,” Edwards said. “He’s strong and he’s fair.”