Over 100 parents, teachers, teaching assistants and PTO members have joined to form a petition trying to save the job of Kenneth Rassler, who has been the principal of Greenwood Elementary School for the last three years and has been in the district for 12 years.
Rassler did not have his contract renewed during a February meeting of the Warwick School Committee, a move the administration said was in preparation for impending consolidation of schools which the district is now squarely in the midst of – as Wickes, Randall Holden and John Brown Francis Elementary Schools are all being closed or re-purposed after this year.
“We're consolidating and closing schools, and within that process we had to reduce by two administrators,” said Superintendent Philip Thornton on Wednesday.
The petition brings together those who are unhappy with the administration’s decision to make Rassler one of those two positions to not be brought back, as they believe he has exemplified what a principal should be.
“The fact that Mr. Rassler’s contract was not renewed is questionable since Greenwood has achieved many goals under his leadership, including the fact that the school’s STAR math scores are the highest in the district,” the petition reads. “Mr. Rassler unfailingly supports our students and parents while providing teachers with honesty, leadership, and support to execute their duties to best benefit our students.”
The petition claims there is nobody that parents should want at the helm of an elementary school in an era where people are on high alert regarding safety within schools, as Rassler is a trained EMT, is well-versed in CPR and other crisis safety techniques and is a Navy veteran of 16 years.
“In the current environment of schools safety issues, there is no better choice for a principal than a man so committed to the safety of all communities,” the petition states. “Kenneth Rassler is a man of exemplary character and integrity. The children, teachers, and parents will only benefit from his knowledge, strength, and leadership.”
Rassler will be replaced by Roy Costa, currently the principal of John Wickes, which as mentioned above is now closed and will not re-open.
“This petition is not meant to defer from Mr. Roy Costa and his leadership skills, but only to express our support for an exemplary man, who should be praised for his leadership, not released,” the petition continues.
Thornton could not comment as to the reason why Rassler was chosen to be one of the principals not renewed, despite being at the head of a school that isn’t part of the consolidation efforts, as it pertains to a personnel decision – which administrators have a policy regarding not commenting on.
On Wednesday, Rassler said he feels as though the writing is on the wall and that he was seeking employment in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Yet, he acknowledged, anything could happen.