It landed on Kentucky’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs) list in early 2010 – in the very first round – as one of the lowest 5-percent performers in the entire state.
Under the ReStaffing school improvement option selected after the school was identified, the principal was supposed to be replaced, unless an audit recommended otherwise.
That audit, formally the 03/14/2010 – 03/19/2010 School Leadership Assessment Report for Valley High, says:
“The school leadership assessment team has determined that the principal does not have the capability and capacity to continue the roles and responsibilities established in KRS 160.345.”
But, the principal was not replaced.
Two years later, a 02/26/2012 – 03/02/2012 School Leadership Assessment Report for Valley High found:
“The principal does not have the ability to lead the intervention and should not remain as principal of the school to continue his roles and responsibilities established in KRS 160.345.”
But, he wasn’t replaced after that second failure notice, either.
Incredibly, principal Gary Hurt was still in place during yet another, Special Review Report for Valley High School conducted in during April 17 to 19, 2013!
Playing like a broken record, this third audit says:
“The principal does not have the ability to lead the intervention and should not remain as principal of Valley Traditional High School to continue his roles and responsibilities established in KRS 160.345.”
That seems to have finally done the trick, but why did this drag out so long? Hurt should have been gone after the first audit came out in 2010. For sure, he should have been removed after the 2012 audit.
Clearly, the school district refused to face the truth. The Courier-Journal says the district kept this principal in place for a total of six years, well beyond any grace period that should have been allowed under the PLAs program.
So, it’s now 2014. The Courier-Journal says Valley High’s new principal has been in place less than a year, but there is some hope of progress at the school, finally.
Why did it take so long to make such an obvious decision? How can this deplorable trail of inaction even remotely be considered to be in the best interests of the Valley High students?
Even worse, at some point this became a much bigger story than just the poor performance of one principal. It became a tale of how everyone in the supervisory chain failed that principal’s students. Sadly, that chain stretches from the central office at the Jefferson County Public School System all the way to Frankfort.
This serious situation exposes serious and persistent problems with the traditional public school system, which continues to place the interests of adults ahead of students. Clearly, we need better pressure on that system if we are ever going to see the substantial improvements our students need.
We at the Bluegrass Institute think one way to create that badly needed pressure is through the creation of charter schools.
We tire of listening to traditional school bureaucrats make all sorts of excuses while they let a situation like Valley High fester on for almost four years. It’s time for some real changes.
Charter schools won’t be nearly the complete answer, but they are a badly needed tool that our ingrown traditional educators continue to resist just as stubbornly as they resisted the obvious need for leadership changes in Valley.
It’s time to start thinking about students, first.