POLL: Collier school board member critical of superintendent in evaluation

What grade would you give Collier Schools Super Dennis Thompson?

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What: Collier School Board’s evaluation of superintendent

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center, 5775 Osceola Trail

Dennis Thompson takes questions from the media during a news conference at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center in Naples on Monday.

Photo by GREG KAHN, Daily News

Dennis Thompson takes questions from the media during a news conference at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center in Naples on Monday.

Collier County School Board member Richard Calabrese listens to debate over the sexual education curriculum at the Martin Luther King Jr. Administration Center in North Naples on July 30, 2009. Chief Instructional Officer Martha Hayes presented the current sex education curriculum to the School Board on Thursday. The request came from the board at its June meeting after board member Richard Calabrese said the district's policy of sex education needs to change. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN

Collier County School Board member Richard Calabrese listens to debate over the sexual education curriculum at the Martin Luther King Jr. Administration Center in North Naples on July 30, 2009. Chief Instructional Officer Martha Hayes presented the current sex education curriculum to the School Board on Thursday. The request came from the board at its June meeting after board member Richard Calabrese said the district's policy of sex education needs to change. Greg Kahn/Staff

Editor's Note: Education reporter Katherine Albers will be blogging from today's school board meeting at 1 p.m.

At least one Collier County School Board member is not happy with the performance of Superintendent Dennis Thompson.

Richard Calabrese made his misgivings abundantly clear in his evaluation of Thompson, accusing the superintendant of nepotism and creating a climate of fear in the school district.

The Daily News obtained a copy of Calabrese’s review Monday.

Reviews from other board members will be made available when the School Board hosts a special workshop at 1 p.m. Tuesday to evaluate Thompson. It is his first evaluation since coming to Collier in August 2007.

Calabrese wrote in his evaluation that he supported bringing Thompson to Collier County because he believed there needed to be a change in leadership to take the county from an average school system to “world class.”

“Unfortunately, after two years and the expenditure of several hundreds of thousands of dollars more than we spent in the past, I see little or no improvement in our students’ performance,” he wrote. “In addition, Dr. Thompson’s authoritarian, ‘my way or the highway’ leadership style has created a gulf between his leadership team and many teachers, the very professionals we must depend upon to improve our district to where we rightfully belong.”

Calabrese further alleges that teachers who criticize Thompson and the administration are “summoned to their principal’s office or to central administration and threatened with the loss of their job.”

He also wrote Thompson has “favored relatives and friends of top administrators in hiring them for positions in administration with some allegations that new, high salary positions were created for some of them and that district procedures were not followed in hiring them.”

Thompson could not be reached for comment Monday.

School Board members will evaluate Thompson on six standards: Leadership and district culture; policy and governance; communications and community relations; resource management; instructional and curriculum leadership; and values and ethics of leadership.

Each of the standards has performance indicators, such as promoting the engagement of stakeholders and develops curriculum based upon best standards and practices. School Board members are then asked to evaluate whether Thompson’s performance exceeds expectations/criteria, meets expectations, needs improvement or is unsatisfactory.

In Calabrese’s evaluation, Thompson needs improvement in four areas, is unsatisfactory in policy and governance and meets expectations in communications and community relations.

According to district officials, the reviews from all School Board members are being complied into one document, which will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Thompson signed a three-year contract with the Collier County School District with the possibility of a fourth year should the School Board decide his performance merited another year.

Since he was awarded the contract in August 2007, Thompson’s tenure has been marked with millions in budget cuts due to losses in state funding and the privatization of custodial services for the district. The Collier County School District also became an A school district for the first time since the state began giving grades to districts.

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