Thursday, October 18, 2007

After Petrilli, some FCPS administrators appear skittish

Kentucky School News and Commentary has heard nervous rumblings from several Fayette County principals since the sudden departure of Peggy Petrilli from Booker T Washington Academy two weeks into the school year.

Those rumblings apparently got a little louder last week.

Petrilli's sudden departure stunned many in the school district, which had established the Academy to prove that achievement gaps could be closed in all communities - even those steeped in generational poverty. BTW Academy was to "become a model across the state."

The Academy, which was formed from the merger of two low-scoring, high-poverty schools, drew support from numerous local organizations and was watched by education groups statewide. In fact, it drew so much support that some administrators (including some other principals and middle managers at the district level) resented the magnitude of the effort.

So the idea that a group of parents might be able to present FCPS Superintendent Stu Silberman with a laundry list of complaints against Petrilli, and cause her departure (or especially her removal), was unexpected indeed.

Many folks were left confused.

Silberman told KSN&C, "Anytime a principal leaves in the middle of the year I will always talk with our folks about it and that is what I did about a month ago. It would be like a teacher leaving mid-year; a principal would talk to the staff about it."

But recently the chatter has resurfaced as some Fayette school administrators apparently need reassurance. The concern in the trenches is whether Silberman would "have their backs" if parents complained as principals kicked their programs into high gear.

Since KERA school principals do not enjoy tenure in their administrative positions, which makes them extremely easy to demote.

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