Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stu Silberman's Big, Big Mistake

Cross-posted on Bluegrass Policy Blog:

When Lexington school district superintendent Stu Silberman first came to town, he had a slogan to focus central office employee efforts: it's about kids. But after a comment he made yesterday at an all-day seminar, some are left to wonder if "it" may actually be about limiting legal liability for his bad personnel moves.

If what happened at Booker T. Washington Academy in the city's downtown is any indication, Mr. Silberman's tactics may bear some scrutiny.

Peggy Petrelli took over as principal at Booker T. in the fall of 2005. In two short years, test scores shot up 67% at the school. Then, three months ago, Petrelli was forced to resign.

Yesterday, in answer to a question at a Long-Term Policy Research Center public meeting, Silberman may have inadvertently shed light on what surely wasn't one of his finest moments.

Asked to explain what happened to the Academy to cause such dramatic improvement while Petrelli was principal, Silberman stated that it was a bad example. He said the school is "currently under investigation."

That was news to the Kentucky Department of Education. Spokeswoman Lisa Gross said this morning that no complaints had been presented to the Department.

Silberman's "secret investigation" smells a lot like trying to cover his tracks after running off a high-performing principal. Petrelli declined to comment about persistent rumors that she intends to sue Silberman. And Silberman's office did not return a phone call this afternoon.