UCP West Orange principal resigns following 'leadership differences'

Since the resignation of Tom Brickel, two other principals at the school have resigned in less than a year.

Ziesha Williams-Gatlin joined UCP West Orange Charter School in October 2023.
Ziesha Williams-Gatlin joined UCP West Orange Charter School in October 2023.
Photo courtesy of UCP West Orange Charter School
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Ziesha Williams-Gatlin, who served as the principal of UCP West Orange Charter School since October 2023, has resigned.

Her last day with the school was April 26. 

Williams-Gatlin said her decision to resign came following differences between herself and upper management on how to best move the school forward. 

"There were a lot of challenges that we could not come to an agreement on," she said. 

Since the resignation of Tom Brickel in March 2023, two other principals, one being Williams-Gatlin, have resigned in less than a year.

Williams-Gatlin replaced Sean Mikels, who took over in April 2023 following Brickel's resignation. Mikels left the school in September 2023. 

 "Until they overcome their internal challenges, they're going to continue to have turnover, unfortunately," Williams-Gatlin said. "They say they want growth and to move in the right direction, but there's a great deal of resistance within the school and from upper leadership."

Dr. Ilene E. Wilkins, CEO and superintendent of UCP of Central Florida and UCP Charter Schools, addressed Williams-Gatlin's resignation in an email to parents Monday, April 1.

"I image you all are now aware of Ms. Williams' recent resignation as principal of (the) UCP West Orange Campus," she wrote. "I know you all are likely disappointed and frustrated that there will be another principal leadership transition. I wanted to be transparent and honest with you on the next steps, as well as assure you that we are committed to maintaining continuity and excellence at UCP West Orange Charter School."

Wilkins said UCP officials are taking proactive steps to ensure a smooth transition and to minimize any disruption to the learning process. 

When asked to comment on Williams-Gatlin's resignation, Wilkins said: "We have nothing more to add."

During the transition period, Desi Savage, assistant principal, and Sherry Garas, school business manager, will help continue to lead the school with the support of other campus administrative team members. 

Additionally, two education leadership team members also will be on campus to help provide leadership and support. 

Wilkins said UCPS officials have begun actively searching for a qualified and experienced leader to serve as the next principal and plan to use some of the lessons learned as they begin the search. 

"My heart is with the families and the children, and I really just hope for the best for them, because they're the most deserving," Williams-Gatlin said. "It could be a lot better there."



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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