Amid turmoil, Cleveland High's Principal resigns
In the second week in May, two Portland Public School (PPS) high school principals resigned.
On May 6, Wilson High Principal Maude Lamont resigned – leaving her position that day. A week later, Cleveland High School (CHS) Principal Ayesha C. Freeman announced her own resignation, effective the end of the school year.
Some parents in the CHS community have told THE BEE that they believe Freeman resigned as a result of teachers and staff at her school holding a meeting on May 7, and passing a "no confidence" vote in her leadership. The total number of votes cast isn't clear, but reportedly more than two-thirds of those who were in attendance voted in favor of the censure.
In a document obtained by THE BEE, unnamed staff members drafted a four-page document, dated May 10, presenting in great detail their dissatisfaction with Freeman, and delivered it to the PPS central office.
The memorandum began:
"This is a formal request, from the professional educators at Cleveland High School, of the School Board and Portland Public Schools, to call for a vote of no confidence, and to ask that Ms. Ayesha Freeman be relieved of her duties as Principal of Cleveland High School."
The document then extensively details Freeman's alleged shortcomings, organized under the following headings:
· Repeated incompetence in response to sensitive hateful acts of the past year
· Breaches of confidentiality and inconsistent messaging
· General dereliction of duties
The missive concludes:
"We have lost confidence in the leadership of our Principal and ask for her immediate removal. We ask the parent and student community of Cleveland High School to join us in this request to district leadership and the PPS Board."
In a widely-distributed message from Principal Freeman, dated May 14, she announced:
"It is with mixed emotions that I am writing this letter to let you know that I will not be returning to Cleveland next year. During my time at Cleveland, I have had the opportunity to work with an exceptional student body, administrators, teachers, counselors, and support staff. I have the deepest respect for this school and school community."
Freeman touched on the demands of supporting her two teenage children as a single parent. She stated, "My intention is to strike more of a balance between my work and my personal life, so I can be present with my children and tend to my own health and well-being."
Asked for comment on her resignation, as of our publishing deadline, Freeman has not responded to THE BEE.
When PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero was asked to comment on the situation, PPS Communications Director Harry Esteve responded in Guerrero's behalf: "The Principal made her decision to resign from Cleveland several weeks ago; the decision was not affected by the no-confidence vote."
Esteve continued, "As for supporting our students and staff at Cleveland, Area Assistant Superintendent Joe LaFountaine [will be conducting] a thorough and inclusive process for finding a new leader for the school, including input from students, staff and families.
"The Office of School Performance is currently in a review of the candidate applications," Esteve wrote. "They hope to interview candidates before school is dismissed for the summer."