The fight to keep Paul Holland as principal at Westwood Elementary School is one district parents aren’t ready to concede.
Parent Mollie Diedrick lobbied board members to be allowed to make a statement June 5 during a special work session. There was no hearing of the public scheduled.
She said a petition circulating throughout the district will soon be presented to the Lorain County Board of Elections in hopes of halting the process of replacing Holland.
“Mr. Holland is the guidance counselor and the substitute teacher when he needs to be,” Diedrick said. “He’s everything to this school. We have a significant number of signatures for our petition and we’re not going to lose him without a fight. I hope that says a lot about Mr. Holland in itself. We’re not here to try and bother you — I hope that’s not how it seems. But he’s a wonderful man and an amazing principal.”
Candidates to replace Holland have been interviewed and superintendent Ed Weber said he hopes to have a new principal in place by mid-July.
Diedrick referenced an evaluation of Holland that was released May 22 by the Ohio Department of Education, just after the decision was made to not renew his contract.
Holland was dubbed “skilled,” which is the evaluation’s second-highest rating, and scored full marks for student learning objectives.
Teachers are responsible for setting and scoring student learning objectives, or SLOs, at the beginning and end of each school year. However, only two Westwood teachers’ SLO scores were part of Holland’s final rating. That’s due to state rules that allow teachers to carry one SLO score for multiple years if they’ve been rated “accomplished” or “skilled” by their principal.
Westwood third-graders’ 72 percent passage rate in English language arts portions of state tests was a four percent improvement over the previous year. Math rates dropped by three to 77 percent, leaving both categories short of the state’s 80 percent benchmark.
Those passage rates are subject to change before the release of the 2017-2018 Ohio Report Cards, said Weber.
Weber’s final evaluation of Holland, which deemed the principal “ineffective,” also factored into the ODE’s ratings.
“The school will still score zero percent on its objectives because those benchmarks weren’t hit,” Weber said. “Students that enrolled after Oct. 10 or withdrew before the end of the year aren’t counted in the school’s final assessment. Based on the auditing of students rosters, the scores can definitely go up or down. That process is now open for a while before the report cards come out in August or September.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.