Sewickley Academy interim head of college states small enrollment motivated leadership modifications

Interim head of college at Sewickley Academy Ashley Birtwell is pushing back again on the plan the Sewickley Mom and dad Business is influencing the school’s conclusions.

Five directors and a fifth-quality instructor were being let go on July 21. Just one of the directors who was terminated, former director of admissions and financial support Douglas Leek, is suing Sewickey Academy in federal court docket alleging race discrimination.

Birtwell said the university strategies to perform a research to appoint a new Head of College. She has been interim head of faculty efficient given that June 25.

Some moms and dads were worried that the director of variety, fairness, inclusion and social justice and assistance — just one of the positions produced — was enthusiastic by a letter the Sewickley Mothers and fathers Organization sent out to family members June 1 voicing fears in excess of the school’s range, fairness and inclusion strategy, which is element of the school’s strategic approach, dubbed Imagine 2024.

The board experienced been thinking of changes in management since early 2021 ahead of the letter was sent, Birtwell stated. She said the team experienced popped up right after the college had attained its selection.

“They had no affect in these selections,” she mentioned.

Birtwell claimed leadership adjustments have been made due to the fact of the steady small enrollment the school has observed in excess of the a long time. The school has found a decrease in enrollment considering the fact that 2002, when the academy had 804 learners. This previous 2020-21 faculty year, Birtwell stated 583 learners ended up enrolled at the faculty, which she mentioned was far more than forecasted owing to covid but it was still a drop in enrollment in contrast to other private colleges that ended up enduring progress in enrollment final summertime. She also cited attrition as a element as effectively.

“There was concern despite our greatest endeavours we weren’t shifting the enrollment needle,” she claimed.

The community notion that improvements were currently being created mainly because of the social justice approach and the letter from Sewickley Moms and dads Corporation was “heartbreaking” for Birtwell to listen to, she explained.

She stated that while the school welcomes all varieties of problems and questions, mother and father do not have a say in university policy decisions.

“They are not producing personnel conclusions or they aren’t the ones writing our curriculum. There are boundaries. They will need to respect that they’ve trusted us to educate their young children and that we’re the professionals listed here,” she said.

Birtwell further emphasized that the faculty is still fully commited to its strategic system Imagine 2024 and its 5 pillars, specially the range, fairness and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

“We stay dedicated to that and it is a element of what can make Sewickley Academy special. I am eager to perform with our people and be actually focused this calendar year to make guaranteed we have opinions from various constituents,” she claimed.

Sewickley Academy appointed wellness and bodily education instructor Derek Chimner as the interim director of variety, fairness, inclusion and social justice and support. Chimner does not have a history in DEI. Birtwell cited Chimner remaining an Academy alumnus and doing work with college students from across the K-12 faculties built him well-suited for the situation.

“Derek has huge passion for this and is pretty fully commited to this position,” she claimed.

When requested about the training that will go into expanding Chimner’s DEI encounter, Birtwell reiterated the excitement of Chimner taking above the function and how he is eager to make improvements to the university.

In addition to the DEISJS posture, Sewickley Academy will be forming a process drive comprising reps from the Decreased School, Middle University and Senior University, a university student and a mum or dad.

“It is really crucial to be getting enter from several constituents, and that body will signify variety in several sorts so we want to make certain all voices sense as if they are currently being heard,” Birtwell mentioned.

Birtwell will be meeting this afternoon with a team of mothers and fathers who have been worried about the academy’s latest leadership improvements and the letter from the Sewickley Dad and mom Corporation. Birtwell stated the school is dedicated to carrying out better.

“I want to pay attention to their issues, and we’ll make absolutely sure we do have the proper environment and tradition that their children are not only emotion safe and sound, but all over again enthusiastic for the school year,” she mentioned.

Tanisha Thomas is a Tribune-Critique team author. You can get hold of Tanisha at 412-480-7306, [email protected] or by using Twitter .