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Lorain Schools CEO To Evaluate High School Teachers For Next Year

Lorain high school teachers met Friday with the district CEO to discuss the future of their jobs. At his monthly town hall meeting Thursday night, CEO David Hardy Jr. announced all high school staff will take part in a “selection process” starting in March if they want to continue working there next year.

“It will be a formal interview where they will provide some insight on how and what they are doing in the classroom,” Hardy said. “But this will be the opportunity for all our teachers to step up and say they want to be a part of this transformation.”

This is the latest in a series of controversial decisions Hardy has made causing tension between him, the elected school board, and the state-mandated academic distress commission.

Since the state takeover of the failing district in 2017, Hardy has had the powers of a superintendent and school board, and he says, he’s focused on making the district a system of excellence. 

“To be clear we have schools where we see excellence. There's excellence in every building. Now we are trying to get to a system of excellent schools. Part of that process is designating where our schools fall. The high school, Lorain High School, is where we want to focus our time and energy to get right.

“So all of our staff members at our high school will go through a process in which we will evaluate: Do you want to be a part of this process? Do you want to be a part of this transformation? Or do you see another way you can support this school system? It may not be a position as a physics teacher. It may be in a position in another building. It may be a situation where as an individual, you are saying, ‘I don't want to be a part of this transformation,’ and we want to give our teachers the opportunity to make that selection.”

What do the teachers have to do for next school year?

“As a whole, we are looking for a few things from our teachers. Be rooted deeply in our core values as an organization. Understand that our belief system is what will drive our work forward. Secondly, as a teacher in Lorain, we have to realize that the work ahead of us is hard.

“The state has an understanding that we need to improve. And that means we are going to have to do things differently. We are going to have to be malleable. We’re going to have to make sure that the best interest of our young people comes first. And if our teachers and our staff in general, because again this is about a system and not teachers individually, if they have that mind set, if they come with that approach, we will get further. We will get to the place our kids need to be.”

Recently the teachers did a vote of no confidence in you. How does that make you feel that teachers don't believe in you or don't believe you can fulfill the position or the job?

“I think at the end of the day, what I feel is the need to make sure for our kids to get what they want. So, I really want them to have confidence in their kids. I want them to see them every day. How they feel about me, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect the work that I do every day. More importantly, I want to make sure their love for kids stays strong.”     

Earlier this month the mayor wrote a letter to you and the school board members and the academic distress commission inviting you all to the table to have a conversation just to clear the air so that you can have a better working relationship. You responded by declining the invitation. Is that still the case?

“I think my focus has always been working with the school board. And as I meet with the school board president on a weekly basis, I think it’s important to build that relationship. The idea of bringing more people around the table before we’re able to build that relationship and common understanding would not foster the outcomes we would want to see, while ultimately realizing that the time and energy that I want to spend is centered around kids.

“And I think sometimes the narrative in Lorain and in very highly political arenas is focused on the politics. Day one, since I’ve been here, I’ve been solely focused on progress not politics and I will stay that way.

“So that invite, and I appreciate the extension of that invite by the mayor, it may have garnered a different conversation that would derail the progress myself and the school board president have already made. But I truly believe we’re on the right path. We just have a lot of internal things, and understanding the politics of this city, that needs to be addressed first.”

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