Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Parents fighting for fired principal

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PLEASANT RIDGE - Nativity School parents vowed Tuesday to fight to get their principal reinstated, and some suggested seeking the ouster of the Nativity Church pastor who fired him.

A day after Bob Herring was fired by Rev. Marc Sherlock, nearly 400 parents and parishioners crowded into the school cafeteria to discuss how to get Herring reinstated.

"There are many here tonight who feel Father Sherlock is not fit to lead this parish as pastor," said Mark McLaughlin, a Nativity parent who asked the pastoral council to issue a formal complaint about the priest's leadership to the archdiocese. Sherlock could not be reached for comment.

Earlier Tuesday, more than 100 people picketed outside the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's downtown headquarters and demanded to speak to Archbishop Daniel Pilar-czyk, who met with representatives for half an hour.

Parents and parishioners Tuesday night discussed ways to keep the issue on the front burner, including prayer vigils, bombarding the archdiocese and Father Sherlock with e-mail and phone calls, attending another church Sunday and putting weekly contributions in escrow.

Gerry Ahrens, a Nativity teacher, suggested the group ask that Herring be reinstated while he appeals. Ahrens said he was planning to leave teaching to become a lawyer until Herring came to Nativity.

"There was only one reason I stayed, and that was his inspiration," said Ahrens, his voice choked with emotion.

Brother Joseph Kamis, the archdiocese's superintendent of schools, attended the meeting, but did not speak.

Herring issued a written statement thanking everyone for their support.

Sherlock's letter to Herring reportedly said he was being fired because of "differences in philosophy."

Herring, principal of the 388-student K-8 school, was informed that he was fired just as school ended Monday.

On Tuesday, parishioners received a letter from Sherlock, saying that Herring was no longer principal.

"I ask you to keep Mr. Herring in your prayers, and, if possible, lend him your support as he plans for the future. ... I hope you can understand that it is unethical as well as unprofessional for any of the Nativity Staff or myself to speak to you about the details of this situation," Sherlock wrote.

Nativity parents say they won't rest until Herring is reinstated.

Sue Kiesewetter contributed. E-mail

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