Yesterday, Petrilli released a statement:
"I stand behind our work at Booket T.
The academic achievement of our students has been my life's work, my passion, my ministry. After having a heart-to-heart conversation with [Fayette County Superintendent]Stu [Silberman] and [Director] Carmen [Coleman], it is evident that despite my best efforts, and the fact that I did the best I could do, I recognize that I could not build trust with a group of parents...
It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave Booker T. Washington for the sake of our students... I ask everyone to stay focused on high academic standards, a safe and orderly environment, a high-quality professional staff and most of all, our incredibly high-achieving, motivated and bright students."
The district simply says, she resigned.
Silberman declined to comment on the parent's specific concerns Saturday telling the Herald-Leader it was a moot point since Petrilli was leaving.
What is less clear is whether, at the end of her meeting with Silberman, Petrilli had the option to stay.
So, I wrote to Silberman to ask. He responded,
"It never got to the point where Peggy ever asked to return to BTWA. As soon as we shared the concerns that were raised she decided that she did not want to go back. So, it never got to the point where that even had to be discussed."
I've been trying to get a handle on this incident because I'm not sure the issues are moot at all. The Academy was a very high-profile effort - lot's of eggs in this basket.
Once you shine a big spotlight on something,
it's hard to turn it off
without folks asking lots of questions.
Petrilli had served on Governor Ernie Fletcher's education committee during the last gubernatorial campaign. She had been invited to speak to school groups around the state on what it takes to close the achievement gap. And when Harvard's Abigail Thurnstrom came to town, they brought her to Northern, Petrilli's old school. She was a National Distinguished Principal in 2005 and Kentucky Principal of the Year. They said she was just what Booker T. Washington needed to break generations of poor achievement. Petrilli was brought in to break the cycle. Apparently, she the one getting banged up.
KSN&C has heard from folks out in the state who are concerned by what they see as serious implications for school reform in Kentucky, particularly whather we can reach children from generational poverty.
One education advocate, who has been mentioned as a possible Education Commissioner has concerns related to whether principals are getting the support they need to do their very difficult jobs and said,
"The push to 2014 is the most difficult part of school reform and many people do not understand this. Patience is thin, a lot of money has been expended and the results are not as rosy as once envisioned, largely because no one really understood how hard the work is."In the background, there are fresh rumors of a couple of pieces of paper circulating; an e-mail and a parent letter reportedly listing specifics of the parent's complaints.
I have not seen either of them yet but I hear the letter makes allegations regarding testing accountability, SBDM, unsupportive leadership (sounds like somebody didn't get their way) and finances (...something about a payment made to a teacher for some Tshirts during a fund raiser).
If any readers have a copy, please send it to KSN&C (confidentially, if you wish)...and we'll all give it a look.
Supposedly one of the issues relates to alleged SBDM policy. The issue? That BTW Academy, a school formed two years ago, did not yet have in place all SBDM policies required by law.
If this is the type of allegation made...well...it's just lame. If we had run off every principal who took more than two years to get all their SBDM policies in place - most Fayette County schools who have been without a principal...or they would have concentrated on policies and administrivia instead, at the expense of curriculum and instruction issues.
But that's only one allegation. There's apparently much more and it's much easier to get in big trouble over something like money.
Kentucky School News and Commentary has been told (unconfirmed) that - by chance - BTW Academy was scheduled for a routine audit this past Monday and that the report from an independent auditor was good.
Look for more in the Herald-Leader tomorrow.