Students, Parents Rally For Popular Parkland Principal
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FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Students and parents held a rally Thursday afternoon in support of a popular Parkland high school principal who is being removed from the school.
Washington Collado is being shown the door at A-rated Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Collado is just one of 50 or principals countywide who are being re-assigned according to new grading system which allegedly measures a principal’s effectiveness at the school.
On Thursday afternoon more than one hundred students and parents chanted, waved signs, honked car horns and told everyone within earshot that the school district should “Keep Collado.”
“We want to keep our principal here at the school,” said junior Karen Renelus. “He has done nothing wrong to anybody.”
Collado left campus Thursday with a smile on his face but no comments. Instead, his supporters did the talking for him. They say Collado is being reassigned by Superintendent Robert Runcie despite a strong evaluation because of a vocal group of cheerleading parents upset that Collado did not support them.
“I would like them to make public the evaluation and why don’t you take out the parent complaints from the 4 cheerleading moms who were not happy about how tryouts went then let’s measure the principal against his peer group,” said parent Scott Etheridge.
The cheerleading allegations focused on former coach Melissa Prochilo. There were allegations over bullying and money within the squad. Prochilo says she lost her job despite being cleared of wrongdoing and that Principal Collado backed her up.
“My principal stood behind me,” she said, “he did not want to fire me.”
Prochilo and others on the cheerleading squad say Collado is paying for his decision.
Collado’s family says the principal is a man dedicated to education.
“I’ve seen my brother miss many activities with the family to be with this family,” said Collado’s sister Belgica.
His son said his father is doing his best to handle the stress.
“He’s very stressed but he’s very calm about it because he knows he did nothing wrong and he knows he has the support of his community behind him,” said his son, Alejandro.
No matter the reason supporters say Collado is a talented educator who’s made a difference in students’ lives and helped build an A-rated school.
“He’s kept me out of trouble,” said Lisa Charles. “I’m not gonna lie. I’m a troubled child. He’s helped me stay in school and get my grades. I’m an A-student because of him.”
Although Superintendent Runcie wouldn’t say who else is on the list, district spokeswoman Tracy Clark said they are looking for ‘the best fit at every school.
CBS 4 News tried to get an answer from the school district about the principal’s future.
We were only told that no one is being fired and the district would not comment on the contractual status for next school year.
Parents at Stoneman Douglas have mixed feelings.
“They like him here. The school has good grades so they should not replace him but let him stay,” said parent Evan Grant.
But parent Amy Anapolsky says she’s glad Collado is on his way out.
“There’s been an issue of the girls cheerleading coach,” said Anapolsky.
She’s referring to the firing of Stoneman Douglas cheerleading coach Melissa Prochilo.
Prochilo was ousted over allegations of bullying, questions about money and accusations she encouraged students to forge their parents signatures.
Collado supported Prochilo but the controversy led to low scores on a new evaluation system that
Runcie has instituted for principals up for re-appointment.
The Broward Teachers Union said it is glad the district is now using ‘data’ to make decisions on administrators.
“Teachers have a right to a safe environment. A teacher can be pulled from a classroom over any accusation and a principal needs to be arrested to be taken out of the classroom,” said Marty Schaap.