Youngstown school board rescinds Chaney principal non-renewal

By Denise Dick


School board members rescinded the nonrenewal of the former principal at Chaney and rejected the person Superintendent Connie Hathorn recommended as the new principal at Taft Elementary School.

Board members Jackie Adair, President Richard Atkinson, Marcia Haire-Ellis, Brenda Kimble, Ronald Shadd and Jerome Williams voted to rescind the nonrenewal of Sharon McDonald-Butler who served as Chaney principal this past school year. Michael Murphy abstained.

Hathorn had recommended the nonrenewal, citing performance, and board members at a May 13 meeting approved it. The action also was approved by the state-appointed Youngstown School District Academic Distress Commission that same month.

But McDonald-Butler appealed the decision, and the board listened to her argument in two closed-door sessions. Murphy didn’t attend the session earlier this month.

After Tuesday’s meeting which lasted nearly 31/2 hours, Adair said there were some “procedural difficulties in [McDonald-Butler’s] renewal.”

McDonald-Butler worked as an assistant principal in the district for a year before being named principal this past school year. She previously worked in the Cleveland Schools where in 2009, when she was deputy chief of special projects, she was suspended for two weeks for asking employees to run her personal errands outside of work hours, according to The Plain Dealer.

That personal business included asking employees to pick up her son, the newspaper reported.

The board also rejected Hathorn’s recommendation to hire John T. McMahan III of Rock Creek, Ohio, former superintendent of Southington Local Schools, to be the new principal of Taft Elementary School.

Atkinson, Shadd and Murphy voted in favor of the appointment with Adair, Williams, Haire-Ellis and Kimble opposed.

Adair said McMahan’s initial letter was written to the school board and said he was applying for the superintendent’s position. That job hasn’t been advertised. Since McMahan left a superintendent’s job, Adair said she questions how long he’d plan to stay in an elementary principal position.

The board approved Hathorn’s recommendation to hire Denise Potts Ormerod of Cortland, a former assistant principal in Warren City Schools, as an assistant principal at East High School.

Atkinson, Shadd, Murphy and Haire-Ellis were in favor with Adair, Williams and Kimble opposed.

Adair said she was concerned with Ormerod’s experience considering the candidate just earned her principal’s license July 1.

In other business, the board unanimously tabled a resolution accepting $97,374 in gifts and donations from four foundations to continue the work of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, based in Maine, to continue work in the district for the third year.

Board members said they want a report from the institute regarding its results before making commitments about its continuation. The donations cover only a portion of the cost.

The district planned to use Title I money to pay for the remainder. The Ohio Department of Education paid for the institute’s work the first two years.

The three-year program aims to improve school climate and ultimately student performance by giving students a voice in their schools.

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