School & District Management

Board’s Ouster of Principal Sparks Furor in Ohio

By Jeanne Ponessa — April 02, 1997 2 min read

A rural southeastern Ohio community has been in an uproar ever since its school board decided not to rehire the principal of its only high school.

The Federal Hocking school board voted last month not to renew the contract of George Wood, the principal of the 390-student Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio.

The board’s 3-2 vote has sparked a community organizing effort and a student walkout in support of Mr. Wood, whose contract expires June 30.

Further frustrating the residents, board members have not provided a reason for their action. Jeff Koehler, the board’s president and spokesman, said in an interview last week that he was unable to talk about the matter under the advice of a lawyer.

Some community members have started investigating ways to rescind the board’s motion. Nonetheless, schools Superintendent William White, who supports Mr. Wood, said that Mr. Koehler has instructed him to list the principal’s position as a vacancy.

Mr. White said he thought that “morally and ethically” the board members owe Mr. Wood an explanation for the ouster. The high school students also deserve some kind of response from the board, said the superintendent, who credited them for exercising restraint in their protest. “I don’t know how long I can keep a cap on this whole bit without it exploding,” he added.

Mr. Wood, who has served as principal since 1992, gave up a full-time, tenured position at Ohio University in Athens in order to take the position. The author of Schools That Work: America’s Most Innovative Public Education Programs, he attracted widespread attention when he signed on to work in the primarily low-income school district and began making changes in the way the school was run. (“Professor Practices What He Preaches As a ‘Go for It’ Principal of Rural Ohio School,” Dec. 16, 1992.)

Talking and Doing

Nearly 400 community members attended the March 20 meeting in which the board voted on Mr. Wood’s contract, including several students who spoke out in his favor. The next morning, roughly three-fourths of the high school’s student body walked out of class for about 30 minutes to protest the outcome.

Erin Carroll, a senior at Federal Hocking High and one of the student organizers, said last week that students’ attempts to meet with board members had so far been unsuccessful.

“There were a lot of students who were very upset by the board’s decision,” she said. “We felt like they overlooked a lot of good things he’d done.”

Mr. Wood said in an interview last week that he had shifted the schedule from an eight-period to a four-period day, eliminated study halls, implemented a core curriculum, and created an internship program.

“We school reformers talk a lot about what other people ought to do, but we don’t do a lot of it ourselves,” said Mr. Wood. “I love being principal of Federal Hocking High School. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I want to continue being principal.”

Mr. Wood added that he is exploring his options with a lawyer.

Related Tags:


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Are Your Leadership Practices Good Enough for Racial Justice?
Scratch being a hero. Instead, build trust and reach beyond school walls, write Jennifer Cheatham and John B. Diamond.
Jennifer Cheatham & John B. Diamond
5 min read
Illustration of leadership.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: DigitalVision Vectors, iStock, Getty)
School & District Management We Pay Superintendents Big Bucks and Expect Them to Succeed. But We Hardly Know Them
National data is skimpy, making it hard to know what influences superintendents' decisions to move on, retire, or how long they stay. Why?
8 min read
Conceptual image of tracking with data.
School & District Management Data For the First Time in the Pandemic, a Majority of 4th Graders Learn in Person Full Time
The latest monthly federal data still show big racial and socioeconomic differences in who has access to full-time in-person instruction.
3 min read
Student with backpack.
School & District Management From Our Research Center To Offer Remote Learning in the Fall or Not? Schools Are Split
An EdWeek Research Center survey shows that nearly 4 of every 10 educators say their schools will not offer any remote instruction options.
4 min read
Image of a teacher working with a student through a screen session.