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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Relationship with staffer led to firing

Review questions judgment of Toledo School for Arts’ principal


The Toledo School for the Arts’ former principal inappropriately fraternized with a school employee, which at least in part led to his firing, according to a recent performance review in his personnel file.

Howard Walters, the school’s first and only principal, who was fired last week, attempted a “personal relationship” with a subordinate and later wrote a review the employee perceived as hostile after the relationship did not materialize, according to a June 22 evaluation written by school director Martin Porter.

Those actions, along with several other “poor decisions,” led Mr. Porter to recommend that the school’s board of directors fire Mr. Walters.

“You have provided loyal service to TSA during your tenure,” Mr. Porter wrote, “but your performance has declined sharply and I no longer trust your judgement or your leadership of our staff.”

The June evaluation also says that Mr. Walters mismanaged some federal funds and that he failed to meet two state reporting deadlines.

It also claims that members of the school’s senior division reported low morale and that staff lacked trust in Mr. Walters, among other complaints.

The board cited an “unacceptable” performance review and violations of school policies and procedures Thursday when they fired Mr. Walters and retroactively approved the suspension effective June 21. Board president William Bostleman said Monday the board did not intend to comment on the matter at this time. Stephen Cottrell, Mr. Walters’ attorney, did not return a message Monday requesting comment.

Mr. Walters’ told Mr. Porter in February he was “seeing” the employee, according to the evaluation. Mr. Walters later evaluated the employee in May. The employee nearly left the school because of the review by Mr. Walters, citing her belief that the relationship’s not materializing factored into the evaluation.

Later, Mr. Walters again met with the employee and revised the evaluation, despite being told not to by Mr. Porter. Mr. Walters continued to come to the school even after his suspension, according to his personnel file.

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 been hailed as one of the most successful charter schools in Ohio.

Until the recent review, Mr. Walter’s personnel file is filled with complimentary correspondences from board members and Mr. Porter.

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

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