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Pasco Tribune

Pasco transfers assistant principal after bullying controversy

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 06:35 PM
LAND O' LAKES -

The Connerton Elementary assistant principal who has been a target of complaints by former school employees and parents is being transferred to another school.

Assistant Principal Wendy Carswell is to move to Denham Oaks Elementary and be replaced by Claudia Steinacker, the assistant principal at Odessa Elementary.

"Wendy's a good administrator, but we have listened to the input from lot of people," Assistant Superintendent Dave Scanga said. "People have different perceptions of the climate at Connerton."

Principal Anna Falcone, who also has drawn the ire of many of those former employees and parents, will remain at the school, Scanga said. The district is confident that Falcone and Steinacker will make a good team and be able to move the school forward in a positive direction, he said.

"As a school, it has accomplished really good things," Scanga said. "That's to everybody's credit."

Connerton was an A school last year in the state's school grading system.

The district plans more for Connerton than just a switch in assistant principals.

Aimee Boltze, the district's director of staff development, will work with Falcone and Steinacker on strategies aimed at improving the climate at the school, Scanga said.

For the past month, Falcone and Carswell have been the target of complaints by a group of former employees and parents who staged a protest near the school and petitioned the school board to remove the two administrators.

This week, some of those critics appeared again before the school board, accusing Falcone and Carswell of bullying tactics in their relationships with staff and parents.

Peggy Lopez, a former school district employee who helped lead the petition effort, said she has worked with Steinacker and described her as a "capable and professional" assistant principal. But Lopez said changing assistant principals is "too little too late" and won't appease those who also wanted Falcone removed.

"The community is outraged," Lopez said. "They're not in any way, shape or form happy with this."

She said the group will continue to bring attention to problems at Connerton.

The change in assistant principals at Connerton is just one of several planned administrative moves the school district announced Thursday.

Terri Mutell, the principal at Marlowe Elementary, and Hilda Martin, the principal at Chasco Elementary, are switching jobs.

Other moves announced Thursday include the transfer of Deborah Wichmanowski, assistant principal at Sunray Elementary, to Longleaf Elementary, and the transfer of Heidi Morris, assistant principal at Pasco Elementary, to Sunray Elementary.

In discussing the Mutell and Martin job switch, Scanga used a sports analogy, saying it was like a coach deciding the best way to use his players.

He acknowledged, though, that the data on student testing at Marlowe isn't what the district wants it to be so "this was a good time to take a different approach" at that school. Marlowe dropped from a B to a D in the state's school grading system last year.

Mutell, an experienced principal who has been at Marlowe since the school opened in 1999, has her own strengths to bring to Chasco, Scanga said.

The district still will need to fill the assistant principal jobs at Odessa Elementary and Woodland Elementary.

All the proposed personnel changes must be approved by the school board, which next meets July 3.


rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1853

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