JCPS has selected a new principal for Valley High School, after the Kentucky Department of Education recommended replacing the school’s interim principal based on observations when he had been serving in the role less than two months. Crosby Middle School principal Michael Kelley has been hired to be the next principal of Valley High, taking the reins from interim principal Jeff Gossett. JCPS is also set to replace two other principals who received poor leadership reviews from the Kentucky Department of Education this spring.
KDE released the results of its reviews of 21 low-performing JCPS schools in April, and recommended four JCPS principals for reassignment after review teams found they “did not have the capacity to lead their schools’ turnaround efforts.” Kim Goff of Shelby Traditional Academy, Angela Allen of Olmsted Academy South, Malinda Dutkowski of Johnsontown Road Elementary and Gossett of Valley High were all identified as “lacking the capacity to lead.”
State education officials conduct leadership reviews of every school that scores in the bottom 5 percent of all schools in Kentucky on annual statewide standardized K-PREP tests. The reviews are one step in the state’s Comprehensive Support and Improvement for low-performing schools.
Last week, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio informed reporters that the district was planning to hire new principals for Shelby Traditional Academy and Johnsontown Road Elementary, as reported by the Courier-Journal and WDRB. Pollio said Goff of Shelby Traditional Academy is expected to move to another position in JCPS, while Dutkowski will retire and Allen will remain as principal of Olmsted South. JCPS communication staff confirmed those plans.
JCPS has not yet selected new principals for Shelby Traditional Academy and Johnsontown Road Elementary, but announced Monday that Kelley would become principal at Valley High. Gossett and Goff have not yet been assigned to new positions, according to a JCPS spokesman.
Interim Principal Received Poor Review After 2 Months On The Job
Gossett began serving as Valley High’s interim principal in January, stepping up from his role as assistant principal when the school’s previous principal retired. The following month, the Kentucky Department of Education conducted a diagnostic review of the school, triggered by the school’s test scores the year before.
A statement released from JCPS communications in April said the review team found Gossett “did not have the capacity to lead their schools’ turnaround efforts.”
The diagnostic review quoted Gossett telling reviewers, “We are not getting to every kid,” and quoted a student saying, “All they do is give us worksheets.”
Reviewers also found that Gossett “fostered a positive culture that extended to staff and students,” that the school facility was “well-managed and well-maintained” and that Gossett was “keenly aware” of the need for strong instruction. Ultimately, reviewers found Valley High administrators had “not successfully established effective, results-driven continuous improvement planning processes” to address the school’s low performance on K-PREP tests.
Will These Events Discourage Other Assistant Principals From Serving As Interims?
JCPS has hired Kelley as the permanent principal of Valley High, a position Gossett was not necessarily in line to assume.
“The notion of an interim is not to be a permanent replacement, and there would not … generally be an expectation that an interim would continue,” said Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim.
JCPS Chief of Communications Renee Murphy could not immediately confirm whether or not Gossett was being considered for the role of Valley High principal prior to KDE’s review.
More than one member of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators has contacted the Association with concerns regarding decisions made as a result of diagnostic reviews.
“Information … has been shared with us that suggests that these reviews are not as comprehensive as necessary to support a decision of such magnitude,” KASA Executive Director and General Counsel Wayne Young wrote in an email.
“We are concerned that the current process, if flawed, could not only result in unjustified adverse employment action against sitting principals, but could discourage other capable young educators from pursuing leadership positions in the future,” Young wrote.
Young said KASA will review its members’ concerns and will support any member who wants to challenge “any such decision that appears to be unsupported by adequate evidence.”
Gossett declined a request for comment.