The principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has told parents he’s being forced out of the Parkland school, as the result of a controversial new evaluation system.
Washington Collado, who has led the school since 2011, hasn’t been fired from the district, but has been told he won’t be returning to Stoneman Douglas this fall, said Lisa Maxwell, executive director of the Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association. She said at least 10 principals have been told they won’t be returning, declining to name the others.
When word got out this weekend, Parkland parents started flooding Superintendent Robert Runcie and School Board members with emails and calls, while posting their concerns on Facebook and Twitter.
“He’s well-liked and well received. He’s done so much for the school,” said Jan Hediger, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association. “We’re not getting any answers.”
Collado couldn’t be reached, despite two calls to his office.
Stoneman Douglas was the site of a cheerleading controversy last summer and fall, with some parents making allegations of pay-for-play and bullying within the cheerleading program. The School Board fired cheerleading coach Melissa Prochilo October 2, despite two district investigations, which found no wrongdoing, and pleas from more than 100 of Prochilo’s supporters.
Collado stood by Prochilo before being overruled by the School Board.
Maxwell said Collado is the victim of a new principal rating matrix, which is being used as a “hit list” for those who have had run-ins with district administrators or the teacher’s union.
She said the criteria are arbitrary and sometimes without merit. The principals are told they can apply for other jobs in the district but face a good chance of being demoted. Many of the 10 principals, including Collado, received excellent performance evaluations in January, she said.
“Principals throughout the district are infuriated like nobody’s business,” Maxwell said. “They don’t know if they’re going to be singled out next.”
Runcie said the new matrix uses a “plethora of factors” to decide whether a change is needed.
“We want to have quality leadership that matches with the school and the environment,” Runcie said. “If that kind of match isn’t there, we’re going to make some adjustments and allow some principals to look at opportunities at other schools. Stoneman Douglas is one of the schools we’re having the conversation with.”
Some of Collado’s supporters this weekend blamed the students and parents who filed complaints about Prochilo for Collado’s departure. But they had no involvement in decisions about Collado, said their lawyer Chris Fertig.
“The parents that I represent were not involved in this decision. We were not consulted, nor did we provide any input,” Fertig said.
Staff writer Karen Yi contributed to this report.
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