The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) has named Ron Castagna as the 2012 Colorado High School Principal of the Year. Castagna has been principal of Lakewood High School in the Jefferson County Colorado School District since 1996.
Lakewood High School has been recognized by 5280, U.S. News and World Report, and Newsweek for its excellence. Consistent with his style of servant leadership, Castagna is as quick to share credit with his faculty and students as they are to praise him for his tireless work to create a learning environment that fosters a student-centered focus on education and achievement. Teachers cite his commitment to ensuring they have the support and tools they need to instruct students and the high degree of respect and professionalism with which he treats each of them. As a result, faculty is unified in their efforts to serve every kind of learner and continually raises the bar for their own performance expectations for the benefit of students.
Last Week’s What would you do?
A high school English and journalism teacher failed to censor her students’ creative writing
assignments even though some of her students used profanity in their work. After several complaints and three conferences with the teacher about not enforcing the district’s “no profanity” rule and the right of teachers and students to express themselves in classroom exercises, the school principal recommended termination of the teacher for violating the school’s “no-profanity” rule, which had, until this principal was hired, traditionally not been applied to classroom exercises. The teacher sued, alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights. What would you do?
First, the principal should not discuss the issue with the teacher any longer and should refer all communication regarding the matter to the principal’s and/or the school board’s attorney. Once a law suit is mentioned, communication on the issue with the principal parties should not continue. All legal matters then move to counsels of record.
Second, the principal and the district have grounds for termination based on recurring insubordination. The school has every right to enforce its policies. This must be done, following board policy and the negotiated agreement, through warning, reprimand and recommendation for termination. The teacher must enforce the district’s and school’s policies regarding student behavior.
Third, the courts have held that school districts have the right and responsibility to regulate and proscribe appropriate curriculum and instruction for its students. Furthermore, freedom of speech and expression only goes so far when it enters the arena of the classroom. Such freedom of speech and expression may not cause a disruption the the school, violate reasonable school policy, or impinge upon others rights.
Next Week’s What would you do?
Two students come to your office with a request to start a “GLBT” (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-sexual) club in your school. As you visit with them, they tell you they have done research and have contacted members of a similar club at the one of the local colleges. What would you do?