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Updated: CH-UH Hires Interim Boulevard Elementary School Principal

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District has not said what will happen to former principal Katrinka Dean, who just started the job in August.

Updated 3:08 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board approved hiring an interim principal at Boulevard Elementary School to replace Katrinka Dean, who just started the job in August.

New principal Dr. Karen Muffley's appointment was effective Monday, Nov. 26, the same day the board officially approved the decision at a special meeting.

Superintendent Douglas Heuer sent a letter to parents before the Thanksgiving holiday notifying them of the change. 

"As I mentioned in a previous letter which came home with your child, the District has been performing a professional review and evaluation of school leadership at Boulevard Elementary School. Results of the Ohio State Report Card for Boulevard Elementary School in the 2011-12 school year did not meet our expectations," Heuer wrote. "When a new principal was selected to lead the school this year, clear standards were established for the conduct of the educational program and the implementation of a school improvement plan. While a single incident has sparked much speculation, it is a quarterly review of the building’s progress to date that led to the conclusion a change in leadership was necessary to avert a second straight year of declining student achievement."

Boulevard received a "Continuous Improvement" rating for both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, before Dean took over. In 2011, the school met one more state indicator than the previous year (two instead of one out of eight.) The performance index, which is based on how well all students do on state tests, dropped from about 86 to 83.4 points out of 120. 

Adequate Yearly Progress, which measures achievement for students by subgroup, was not met. The value-added measure, which tracks whether students make a year’s worth of growth in grades 3 to 8 for reading and math, was "below."

The board did not approve a change in Dean's status, and Heuer said he could not say whether she was resigning, would be terminated or something else. The district is in pre-litigation with Dean, Heuer said.

Dean took over for former principal Lawrence Swoope Aug. 6. Swoope resigned July 1 to take a job as principal of a private school at his church, where his wife is senior pastor.

“We are very excited to have Ms. Dean lead our Boulevard team,” Heuer had said in June. “Her wealth of experience in STEM education and project-based learning, her willingness to collaborate with staff and parents, and her steadfast commitment to preparing all students to achieve in a global economy will prove very valuable for the Boulevard community.”

Dean earned $104,712 annually, and Muffley will earn $67,319 for the 140-day assignment, which would equal $105,788 a year, according to board documents.

Before Muffley began her new role, Gloria Black served as the substitute principal for two weeks.

Muffley, who the district hired with the help of the Cuyahoga County Educational Services Center and Dr. Paul Pendleton of the Finding Leaders Group was an adjunct profession in the School of Education at the University of Akron. Prior to her job with the University of Akron, Muffley was an elementary principal for 16 years with the Nordonia Hills School District. Muffley has agreed to fill the position until the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

Heuer said the PTA and district would coordinate events so parents can meet Muffley and ask questions.

The CH-UH School District said more information would be available soon. Keep checking Cleveland Heights Patch for updates.

Frances H. Blount November 27, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Principals do not take these tests; students do! It requires diligence on the part of parents as well as teachers to help students prepare for the tests. I think it's unfair to remove a principal who does all they are allowed to do because students do not meet the mark!
Cathryn Kapp November 27, 2012 at 06:07 PM
It is the responsibility of the Principal to ensure that all students are prepared to take the tests. That is her job. If some students fail, it should not take the test scores down enough to qualify as failure on the part of the whole school.
Glinda Smith November 27, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Um, you can't fire someone who has only been on the job four months for a district report card from the previous year. Something else happened here - and it is serious.
Jim Young November 27, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I wonder if Boulevard school would be able to maintain their enviable test score acheivement if a principal was hired for say $75,000.00.
CH UH grad November 27, 2012 at 08:35 PM
There is obviously something else contributing to the decision, as noted by Heuer when he said, "While a single incident has sparked much speculation..." it would be interesting to know what the single incident was.
Chrissy Zoldak November 28, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Not even 4 months. She was on the job 3 months and only 10 weeks with children in school. It is strange to see the district site failure to show academic progress after this short period of time as a reason for Dean's replacement. I was there for 6 years with the same principal without seeing significant changes in academic achievement. What is going on that she was not given a chance?
robert schneeberger November 28, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I agree with Mr. Young. Nothing changes if nothing changes. This is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
John H. November 28, 2012 at 06:56 PM
It is an incredible amount of money, but in may school systems these days, it's unfortunately par for the course for some reason. MY question is pretty much involving Katrina Dean. What happened? They BOE hired her and talked her up saying how great she was. Now they are in pre-litigation? The district owes the community an explanation.
Michael's Shorts November 29, 2012 at 01:56 AM
An incredible amount of money? For someone with a master's and more in advanced education, years of experience, and ultimately is in charge of the education of several hundred students? I disagree with that. But I do agree with everyone else. This mid-year removal of the principal is suspicious. What kind of indicators shown in their "quarterly review" could have possibly warranted such an action? At the end of the day, a school and district's test scores are only as good as the students that show up to attend. If you have a district full of poor students from broken families that are highly transient, you probably shouldn't be shocked if test scores aren't the same as wealthier and more stable neighboring districts. I don't know what the principals are up to, but I do know that the teachers in the CH-UH district work their butts off to help these kids learn despite the challenges.
michaelschwartz November 29, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Gee, UH Resident, you don't think this principals $100,000 plus salary for 8 months a year isn't good enough when the median annual salary in the country is about $40,000? You need to step up your game here or maybe your just a Teachers Union apologist. Be that as it may, at least you didn't try to imply that the CHUH system is on a peer level with Beachwood like you did when you were trying to play down the IPad fiasco. The CHUH school system is a pathetic joke from its leadership all the way down to its bottom 5% ranking in the whole state according to none other than Patch. It would not be so bad if the property taxes were on the par of the City of Cleveland, but the fact of the matter is they are the second highest in the area if not the State, and the main reason why self respecting folks move out before there kids are school age. Until the remaining folks still tolerating this joke have had enough there will be no meaningful change in the district or accountability but until then let the death spiral continue! Cheers!
michaelschwartz November 29, 2012 at 02:43 AM
As a side note, the BOE if they had any gumption should ask for Heuers resignation and while they are at it should submit theirs as well. Its funny how the $100,000 plus PR flak they hired has been strangely quiet about this fiasco when usually he/she is pumping out daily meaningless pr puff pieces about how "great" the Heights schools are. There will be no meaningful change in the direction of the Heights schools until there is a total house cleaning.
Michael's Shorts November 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
You're cherry-picking data. What's the median salary for people that have advanced degrees and above with several years of experience? Further, if you think a principal or any other educator is only working 8 months a year, you clearly do not understand what the job entails. Perhaps you "should step up your game." In regards to the peer comment, again, you misread what I wrote. The rest of your comments are not worth the time it would take to craft a response because they're the type of rhetoric that belongs on another message board.
Michael's Shorts November 29, 2012 at 08:30 PM
As a side note, "there will be no meaningful change in the direction of the Heights schools" until it gets a full community buy-in from people like yourself. There is a strong correlation between student demographics and standardized test scores. Schools only have students for 35 hours out of a 168 hour week. Do the math on that. There's only so much that can be done where they're going home to chaotic and destructive family lives. Much of what appears in these state measurements is based on the situation students face beyond the wall of their school. The measurement system does very little, if anything to actually isolate what each school or district is adding to student learning. Don't believe me? Consider this thought experiment: If Heights High and Solon switched student bodies, would the new Solon students magically have significantly higher test scores? You want to change and improve educational outcomes in a significant way in this country? Change the culture and provide the necessary support. If you're not willing to do that and want to place all of the "accountability" on educators, then nothing changes.
michaelschwartz November 29, 2012 at 08:41 PM
This is the only way the Heights schools will be able to attract any self respecting families in the future and stop the mass exodus going on currently: Open an Honors only high school say in one of the soon to be closed elementary schools and reopen Taylor as the trouble makers school like it used to. Based on conversations with parents, there is chaos at the high school preventing those who want to learn from doing so. This is the only way that will ever give the schools the chance to become useable. Rebuilding 8 schools will do nothing to improve the situation or attract the kind of families the city desperately needs with no other changes. In fact, with the property tax increase it will only chase more families out of the city. You can bank on it.
Glinda Smith November 30, 2012 at 07:38 PM
A salary of $104,712 for an experienced school administrator is not an "incredible" amount of money.
Glinda Smith November 30, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Have you ever been inside a CHUH public school? I bet not. I have two kids who went to Heights High and they did not experience the "chaos" you speak of. And if you think places like Beachwood and Orange are educational Nirvana, you are sadly mistaken. They are full of entitled, whiney miscreants, constant, unrelenting cheating, and pushy parents who will go after any teacher who doesn't give their precious spawn an A every quarter.
michaelschwartz November 30, 2012 at 08:39 PM
As a matter of fact I have been in the Heights schools several times as have my kids. But no more as the educational qulaity has gone from bad to worse over the last 10 years or so, and yes I talk with parents of students at the high school and it is chaotic. If you don't care to believe me which is your right, just like I don't believe you, go over to Greatschools.com and read the reviews by students and parents of the high school.. Good luck and good reading!
Glinda Smith December 01, 2012 at 01:11 AM
And I'm sure that you know more than someone whose children actually attended the schools for 16 years.
michaelschwartz December 01, 2012 at 02:46 AM
You're right Glinda I do. Be that as it may go on drinking your CHUH kool aid, the Board and Administration depends on folks like you to keep the status quo going. If you think being ranked in the bottom 5% is a great education, I think that speaks for itself.
Michael's Shorts December 01, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Those rankings are almost meaningless because they do not adjust for the inputs, they only measure outputs. Comparing schools full of students from wealthy, stable backgrounds with involved parents to those schools full of impoverished students from broken homes is nonsensical. Until educational statistics experts find ways to control for the student inputs, these measurement systems are worthless as a way to compare one school to the next. Case in point: Numerous Heights students have gone on to Ivy Plus institutions in recent years. That number would be even greater if more exceptional students enrolled in the district.
Glinda Smith December 02, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I love it when people whose children don't attend the CHUH schools tell me how terrible they are - as if you know anything. You don't. And as for those report cards all they do is rank the wealthiest school systems. BTW, did you know that the greatest predictor of high SAT scores is the parent's wealth. That's right. Their wealth. Not their education. It's all about money. And many, many kids in the CHUH public schools don't have it. That doesn't mean no one achieves. They do. I ask you to find another public high school in Ohio, that is majority minority, with a higher minority graduation rate. Please tell me if you do because I will be very surprised - and impressed.
michaelschwartz December 02, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Unlike other school districts throughout the state, if as you say the achievement tests don't adequately reflect the "learning" going on, then maybe the Heights schools should capitalize on this "fact" and use it in their marketing efforts to woo deep thinking families to move to our fair city. Whadda you think Glinda? Perhaps this is a way to overcome the perception (and fact I might add) throughout the area that the Heights schools are a pathetic joke at worst or just the laughing stock of the whole area at best. I think you are on to something Glinda!

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