Enfield 'listening' to Ingraham outcry
Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield met privately with Ingraham High teachers Monday and will meet with parents, students and others Tuesday, saying she's carefully considering concerns raised about her dismissal of principal Martin Floe.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Interim Seattle School Superintendent Susan Enfield met privately with Ingraham High teachers Monday and will meet with parents, students and others Tuesday, saying she's carefully considering concerns raised about her dismissal of principal Martin Floe.
Enfield wouldn't say whether it's possible she will rethink her decision. But she did say that any good leader has to weigh new data — which she says she's received over the past week.
"At this point, I'm listening," she said. "That's all I'll say."
Community outcry started as soon as parents and teachers heard last week that Enfield decided against renewing Floe's contract for the upcoming school year.
Nearly every teacher at the North Seattle school signed a resolution in support of Floe's leadership. Parents and teachers bombarded Enfield and School Board members with emails and phone calls. They've rallied at school-district headquarters and showed up at School Board members' community meetings over the weekend — including roughly 70 people at one held by Sherry Carr.
And there's an online petition that by Monday night had been signed by about 660 people.
Floe continues to say little, except that he's confident in his abilities as a principal and plans to appeal Enfield's decision.
He also said he has assured his supporters there is nothing in his past that "would bring embarrassment to me, my family or the Ingraham community."
On Monday, Enfield clarified the role that test scores played in her decision. The school's scores were not a main factor, she said, because she evaluated the person, not the school.
But she also said test scores are considered in evaluating principals and that Ingraham's "underscore the need for strong instructional leadership at the school."
That statement has also become a point of contention between the district and parents, with each side pointing to different numbers that illustrate different aspects of the school's performance.
"There are many things going really well," said parent Rosemary Daszkiewicz. "The things that are going badly are going badly districtwide."
When asked why there's such a disconnect between her view of Floe's leadership and the strong support he has among staff and parents, Enfield said she thinks that's because many people don't understand that the role of the principal is changing and that principals need to lead the efforts at their schools to improve instruction.
"The system hasn't known this level of accountability for adult performance before," she said.
Parents and teachers continue to credit Floe with improving Ingraham's reputation over the past seven years.
And some say they intend to continue their campaign until Enfield realizes she made a mistake.
"I hope she'll say, 'Look, I am courageous enough to admit that I acted too fast,' " said parent Deborah Niedermeyer, one of the Ingraham PTSA's legislative co-chairs.
Daszkiewicz, the other co-chair, said she has seen Floe's evaluation and that it included 35 to 40 things that were supposed to be corrected immediately.
Speaking as a lawyer with 23 years' experience representing businesses sued by employees, she said that didn't seem reasonable. She added that it usually takes a lot more time to dismiss years of good performance evaluations.
When Enfield met with teachers and staff Monday, about a dozen people spoke during the allotted hour, said language-arts teacher Dean Ferguson.
While they realize she can't reveal what's in Floe's evaluation, he said, "we also feel that whatever is in there, it doesn't paint a full picture of the leader we know. And we feel we know him better than anybody."
Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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