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State Audit Recommends Removal of Myers Middle School Principal

Findings from a Kentucky Department of Education audit of Louisville’s Myers Middle School may lead to the removal of the school’s principal.The recommendation to remove Jack Baldwin from his duties at the academically struggling school came on the heels of a Jefferson County Board of Education decisionto implement a restaffing model at Myers in hopes of improving performance scores.Dewey Hensley, JCPS’ chief academic officer, said the potential removal does not stem from a lack of leadership by Baldwin.“It’s really not an indictment of anybody’s character or total skill level,” Hensley said.  “It’s whether or not that principal or that leader is the right fit for that school’s intervention at this time.”Hensley said JCPS officials will review the audit report before making a decision to remove Baldwin or appeal to the Department of Education.  Officials have up to 30 days to appeal.If Baldwin is ousted at Myers, he could still be eligible to apply elsewhere in the district.As a persistently low-achieving school, the audit of Myers was required.  Other schools, including Westport, Olmsted North, Thomas Jefferson Middle, Western and Valley High were also a part of the January audit.Baldwin was the only principal the audit deemed lacked the capacity to lead his school through the current turnaround.Hensley said Myers has shown little to no improvement in nearly every category examined by the Kentucky Department of Education and finding the proper leadership is crucial to improving school performance.“The principal is such a key component and leader of the school that sets the direction of the school and puts in place the systems,” Hensley said.  “There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with being a principal.”The Jefferson County Board of Education’s decision earlier in the week to move to a restaffing model at Myers is a result of the consistently low achievement status that has not improved, despite current transformation models in place that school leaders say are not working.During Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Baldwin and Hensley admitted to not informing staff of a potential restaffing model in a timely manner, leading board members to question Baldwin’s ability to effectively communicate with the teaching staff at Myers.Hensley said if JCPS officials decide to replace Baldwin, the candidate who replaces him will have a proven skill set that aligns with the turnaround model in place at Myers.Baldwin declined to comment about the audit, but did send a letter on Wednesday to parents and staff. He  also directly addressed his staff Tuesday afternoon."When I took on responsibility for improving achievement for every Myers student, I did so with the best intentions, and I am proud of the progress we have made," Baldwin wrote.Letter: Audit:

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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