Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Lawrence Principal Ousted by MCCS?

A reader who is also the parent of a child at St. Lawrence School in Greece informs me that there is more than meets the eye concerning the recent resignation of Mr. Joe Holleran as Principal of St. Lawrence School.

My correspondent writes that

it was never stated, nor rumored in the school, that [resigning] was not his choice until we went to the farewell reception on the 20th.  [Two parents] gave out a survey, asking if parents were aware of any details regarding his supposed resignation, and asked for parent involvement.

These two parents followed up their survey with a letter to St. Lawrence parents, a copy of which follows.

Hello St. Lawrence School family.  I hope the start of Summer Vacation has been a good one for everyone.  Thank you for the strong showing at our Farewell Reception last week.

I am personally appealing to every family at St. Lawrence to make one final attempt at persuading the Diocese of Rochester to reinstate Mr. Holleran to his job as principal at our school. Many families have already phoned their office to voice disbelief at his removal and support of his return, and I believe we are starting to be noticed.  I would like to ask each of you to call on Monday and leave a message asking for Mr. Holleran to be renamed principal.  They are starting to narrow down the candidates for his position next week, so please act quickly.  Listed below are the name, position and phone number of the people responsible for this decision:

Anne Wilkens Leach - Superintendent   328-3228  ext 1258

Rev. Joseph Hart - Vicar General -  328-3228 ext 1216

Most Rev. Matthew Clark - Bishop - 328-3228  ext 1225

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Some in the St. Lawrence community apparently had questions which the two parents then addressed with this backgrounder. 

Dear St. Lawrence School Family,

Based on a number of responses we have received to our request for calls to the Diocese requesting the reinstatement of Joe Holleran, we thought a follow-up message with some background might be helpful prior to making your call.  Listed below are facts pertinent to Joe's "voluntary" resignation.  The most important statement we can make to you is that his leaving our St. Lawrence school family was NOT voluntary.  It is also imperative that you know that while none of our actions are at the request of Mr. Holleran, it is our understanding that he would accept a reinstatement to his position if it was offered to him by the Diocese.

  • In Spring 2008 after the closing of 13 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rochester, St. Lawrence School was promised a full-time aide in each of our classrooms because of the anticipated growth to our school.  This pledge was made at a meeting of principals whose schools were remaining open.  In Fall 2008 prior to school opening, this promise was reneged upon, with their support being scaled back to a full-time aide in each K, 1, 2, and 3, and ONE aide for 4, 5 and 6 combined.  
  • Mr. Holleran, counting on what the Diocese promised, had already secured an aide for each grade.  Upon the Diocese cutting funding for two of our aides in spite of now having a waiting list for EVERY grade in our school, Mr. Holleran decided to maintain the aide in each classroom without them being on the Diocese payroll.  
  • The funds raised by our annual Walk-a-Thon (over $35,000 this year alone), are dispersed and spent on our children's education as prioritized by the principal.  One of the strengths of our school is the classroom environment, which is a direct result of Mr. Holleran's leadership and direction.
  • In the Fall of 2008, Mr. Holleran wrote a letter to the Diocese expressing his frustration with this situation and questioning their priorities for funding other projects, presumably at the expense of our children's education.  This letter was perceived as a defiant gesture by him, and Diocesan support for him changed thereafter.
  • Mr. Holleran has always been very open about his intention to retire from our St. Lawrence School family in four years when the just finished 2nd grade class moves on to middle school.  
  • During the meeting with Diocesan school officials at the beginning of June after which his "resignation" occurred, at no point was he given the option to remain in his role as principal.  It is the opinion of many parents and faculty members that Joe Holleran was asked to resign, that it was not his choice and that it was directly related to the letter he wrote.  It is also strongly believed that the request for his resignation had nothing to do with his competency, job performance or desire to retire, but instead a vendetta against him. 

The Catholic church has spent millions of dollars across the country to protect members of it's community who have made mistakes and often times harmed or endangered youths and adolescents in the Catholic school system.  At St. Lawrence School we have a man whose every decision is made with the well-being of our children and their education as the utmost priority.  His spirituality is evident in every aspect of his interaction with our children.  Instead of the Diocese rewarding a true mentor and spiritual leader, they are forcing him out of our school and quite possibly their community.  It is our collective belief that this is a major injustice and it is the reason why we are asking for your support by calling the Diocese and letting them know your feelings of support for Joe Holleran and request for his reinstatement as principal of St. Lawrence School.

Nearly a year ago then newly appointed MCCS Superintendent Anne Willkens Leach was quoted in the Catholic Courier as saying that

it's important to restore confidence in Catholic schools and the Rochester Diocese, though "I appreciate the (negative) emotions that are still there."

Forcing a well-regarded principal who sticks up for the best interests of his students to resign does nothing to aid our confidence in our Catholic school system.  In fact, it only adds more depth to the pile of negative emotions still out there.


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Mr. B said...

I've woked with Mr. Holleran and am saddened by this turn of events. He is a man of many fine qualities - certainly one who is a great exampe for our young people.

I pray for Mr. Holleran and his family.

I pray for the students and families at St Lawrence.

I pray for Anne Wilkens Leach and Rev. Joseph Hart.

I pray for our Bishop, Matthew Clark.

"Thy will be done."

Anonymous said...

I just read this and it couldn't hurt me more to know these truths! I for one have a child whom was fortunate to have Mr. Joe Holleran in Northeastern Jr. High School yrs. ago... He was under Mr Joe Holleran's wing to help him intergrate within the tough school of some nasty teens...Mr Holleran helped my son make a smoothier transition.. I know the caliber of Mr Holleran's works first hand, You can't find any better any where. Now, I also heard Mrs. Colleen D'Hundt was released from Christ the King this past year is this another inside trick from Our Leaders Office of The Bishop Clark and his so called cast of people making decisions at the top? People WAKE UP!! and I pray God will RESTORE HIS GOOD PEOPLE Who Work so Hard for EACH and EVERY CHILD and THEIR FAMILIES> AMEN!

Mike said...

Anon. 9:20,

Do you know anything about Colleen D'Hondt's leaving Christ the King School?

All I've been able to find out is that she disappeared suddenly before the end of the school year. Beyond that nobody's been talking.

I'd like to know if she was forced out (and why) or if she left of her own accord.