Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Principal arrives at Losantiville

Keep former leader, staff, parents urge

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There was a new principal at Losantiville Elementary School on Tuesday — a day after more than 50 parents and school staff pleaded with Cincinnati school board members to retain the school's current leader.

        Losantiville parents and staff say they think the district wrongly removed Prin cipal Sharon D. Marcus, who worked at the school for four years.

        District officials said Tuesday that Mrs. Marcus is on vacation, and that her contract for next year is still in effect.

        Teacher Charles Gaver, however, said Mrs. Marcus turned in her keys and was told not to report to work.

        A secretary who answered the phone at the school Tuesday said calls for Mrs. Marcus were “a day late” because someone new was in charge.

        A group went to the school board Monday to tell members they were out of touch with how administrators are handling personnel issues, said Dale Browning, CEO of Ascendant Technology. Mr. Browning's business is a partner with Losantiville School and donates computer equipment and training.

        “I won't continue to back this district if this decision stands,” Mr. Browning said. “I'll take my support to the charters if this goes on.”

        Others, including parent Cheryl Evans and the Rev. Gerald Freeman, chairman of Losantiville's Local School Decision Making Committee, told board members they would not support levies if the board did not conduct a full investigation into Mrs. Marcus' removal.

        The school community is collecting funds to help Mrs. Marcus retain an attorney.

        Under Mrs. Marcus' leadership, Losantiville has made significant academic improvements, moving up in the district's rankings from “intervention” to “improvement.”

        The Elbrook Drive school serves 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Students come from Amberley Village, Bond Hill, Golf Manor and Roselawn.

        Board members said they could not discuss personnel issues. Sally Warner invited those concerned to address the board in writing.

        Complaints about Mrs. Marcus' absences are what led to her removal, several staff members said. The Rev. Mr. Freeman said Mrs. Marcus was out studying a new education model called Direct Instruction.

        Deputy Superintendent Rosa Blackwell, who is responsible for discipline matters at CPS, said she could not comment on personnel issues.

        John Concannon, general counsel for Cincinnati Public Schools, said Mrs. Marcus was notified by letter that Monday ended the first year of her two-year contract.

        The letter was sent, he said, because Bond Hill Principal Stephanie H. Morton started work at Losantiville Tuesday to run the summer-school program. Not every principal received a similar letter. “We wanted to be sure Mrs. Marcus knew Dr. Morton would be there,” he said.

        Losantiville staff said Mrs. Marcus also received another letter earlier this month, asking her to accept a demotion to assistant principal or lose her job. Mr. Concannon said he could not discuss that communication.


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