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Published: Friday, 7/22/2011

Board fires principal of school for the arts

Performance review among causes given

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Howard Walters Howard Walters
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The Toledo School for the Arts' board of directors fired the school's first and only principal Thursday, citing an "unacceptable" performance review and violations of school policies and procedures.

The board also retroactively suspended Howard Walters effective June 21 at a special session at the school's building on 14th Street in the Uptown district.

Board president William Bostleman declined to comment on the suspension and dismissal, calling the situation a personnel matter.

Mr. Walters and his lawyer also declined to discuss specifics on his firing. The pair attended part of a lengthy closed board meeting before Mr. Walters' firing, and said they didn't want to go into detail before the board made its final decision. They left the meeting before the vote.

What they've been told, said Stephen Cottrell, Mr. Walters' lawyer, didn't appear to be enough to abruptly fire the charter school's principal.

"They certainly haven't given any reasoning to us that would sound to us as constituting grounds for firing," Mr. Cottrell said.

Mr. Walters was told by the school's director, Martin Porter, on June 15 to resign or be fired, Mr. Walters said. The board had to vote to formalize the termination.

Mr. Walters joined the Toledo School for the Arts as a teacher in 2000, a year after the school opened. He later became a part-time principal, and eventually full-time principal.

The school, which enrolls more than 500 students, mixes a traditional college preparatory program with visual and performing arts classes. It's also been hailed as one of the most successful charter schools in Ohio.

Under Mr. Walters' leadership, the school has been rated as excellent five times in a row by the State of Ohio, the second-highest rating schools can receive. The school has had a nearly flawless graduation rate.

In addition, it's been named a "Charter School of the Year," "School of Promise," and "National Blue Ribbon School." Crystal Bowersox, the 2010 American Idol runner-up, was a member of TSA's first graduating class in 2003.

"Look at the record of where we began and look at the record of where we started," Mr. Walters said.

The school, at least publicly, has lauded Mr. Walters' work.

"Mr. Walters is a well-rounded, devoted educator, whom TSA is fortunate to have guiding our students," a bio for Mr. Walters on the school's Web site reads.

Despite being jettisoned by the school, Mr. Walters said he still believes in its mission and wanted to stay.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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