Last Friday, Wilson High School Principal Pete Cahall informed the Wilson community that DC Public Schools would not be renewing his contract, and that he would not be returning for the 2015-2016 school year. He also indicated that he would go quietly (see his announcement below), but he is making some noise on the way out, as are Wilson parents.
Earlier that day, the City Paper’s Loose Lips column published a letter Cahall had sent to the DC Council in which he described the DCPS decision as “capricious and arbitrary.” He outlined his accomplishments at Wilson, which include increased test scores, higher graduation rates and greater attendance. Despite those improvements, he said he was told he was being removed because of poor student test scores.
Confused? Greater Greater Washington education writer Natalie Wexler tries to sort out what happened.
We’ve seen an outpouring of support for Cahall on Ward 3 neighborhood listservs. And in a letter published Monday in the Washington Post, a Wilson parent decries this decision. She writes of her son’s experience at Hardy and the chaos that followed when former Chancellor Michelle Rhee had the middle school’s popular principal transferred. She worries about the instability Cahall’s firing could cause at Wilson.
Cahall was one of Rhee’s hires in 2008, and he’s been Wilson’s principal ever since. He made the news earlier this year when he came out publicly at Wilson’s gay pride event.
[box]Message from Principal Cahall
Friday, December 12, 2014
Woodrow Wilson High School
Message from Principal Cahall
Dear Wilson Community,
By now you may have heard the news that I will not be returning to Wilson for the 2015-2016 school year. I am sorry that you had to hear this news in this way and at this time. It was my hope and intention to leave gracefully as to not damage the progress that we have made in the last six and a half years.
I have had a great and incredible journey the last six plus years and I and determined to finish this school year with as much passion, energy and commitment that I have invested in the last six. I have transitioned through the five stages of grief…Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I am at the acceptance stage. I have accepted that it may be time for me to leave and allow someone else to lead this incredible school. I believe that when one door closes, many more open.
I am not sure what I will do next or where I will be. I may take a year off and live in the Dominican Republic to write my book. I may look for opportunities to lead another school. Or I may decide to try something other than in the field of education. The one thing that I do know is that I must and have turned it over to my Lord and Savior…he has never failed me and has always guided me in every decision that I have had to make in my life.
I did not want this news to come out now. I do not want the news to destroy the successes that we have had. Ultimately, I do not want the news to impact my kids, staff, and school community. I have accepted my fate and it is now to move on to the next stage of my life.
I appreciate your continued support, encouragement, care, and love that you have shown me over the last six and a half years. Thank you for listening and understanding. Have a wonderful weekend.[/box]