A petition in support of Ardmore High School Principal Kim Holland began circulating earlier this week, and had accumulated more than 1,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon, according to one individual involved in the petition effort.
Ardmore attorney Glen Burns says “a significant number of community members” circulated the petition in support of Holland after learning the administrator had sent a letter to the Ardmore Board of Education and the district’s superintendent withdrawing the letter of resignation he had submitted three weeks ago.
“The community has really rallied around this situation,” Burns said. “We feel there has been a lot of progress made at the high school, and we want to continue that. The young people deserve that.”
As of mid-afternoon Thursday, Burns reported 1,070 signatures had been collected, with the possibility of more accumulating before being taken to the Ardmore City Schools district office today.
The signatures will accompany a letter requesting an agenda item be included for the upcoming April 15 school board meeting, Burns said.
“We are in the process of putting together a request to be on the agenda on the April 15th board meeting in support of Principal Holland and in support of the board allowing that resignation letter to be withdrawn,” Burns said Thursday. “And to allow him to return to his post as principal of Ardmore High School.”
Earlier this month, Holland handed in his resignation to Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Sonny Bates, who accepted the resignation and informed the public and school board members at the March 11 meeting. The resignation would take effect at the end of the school year. More than 20 AHS teachers and staff, and a number of community members, crowded the meeting room on March 11 to show support for Holland.
Reasons for Holland’s departure from the school district were not made public. School board members told The Ardmoreite they were surprised to see the well-liked administrator’s resign after about three years with the district.
Holland confirmed Thursday that he had submitted a letter to the school board and Bates requesting his letter of resignation be withdrawn. He said he was not involved in the petition efforts or other plans by community members.
“I certainly appreciate all the support for our kids and teachers,” Holland said. “Like I told them, we need to focus on doing the absolute best for our school system. I am excited we have so many new people that are interested in making our school system better. If there is a role for me to play (in the future), that would be great.”
The district’s board policy states “the Board of Education empowers the Superintendent, as agent of the Board, to accept on its behalf letters of resignation from any school district employee. Any resignation received by the superintendent is irrevocable.”
The group hopes the school board will consider Holland’s latest letter and look past board policy, Burns said.
“Our position is this, that the resignation being in the hands of the superintendent is the result of a board policy,” Burns said. “Any board policy can be waived under certain circumstances or it can be set aside by a particular circumstance. As far as that being carved in stone, we don’t see it as being carved in stone.
“We feel comfortable that the board will understand that. This is an extraordinary circumstance. One that we feel stands on its own, and we feel it will be reviewed that way.”
There are five school board members. Burns said the group has not approached the members.
Board President Willie J. Tiller Jr. said he was not aware of “any up-swelling of support” for Holland from the community.
“I did see a communication in reference to that,” Tiller said when asked about Holland seeking to remain with the district. “It’s a personnel matter. We just approve the hiring; it will be left with the superintendent’s office. I’m not quite sure what the procedure is.”
The procedure to address the school board and top district officials at a regular scheduled board meeting involves submitting a letter to the superintendent stating the matter to be discussed, full name, address, phone number and “what is expected from the board,” according to board policy.
The letter must be received by the superintendent at least 10 business days prior to the next regular scheduled board meeting. The policy states “the superintendent will discuss the request with the board president, and they will determine if the item is to be placed on the agenda.”
If the request is granted, four minutes will be given for addressing the board, according to the policy, which also states procedures for board meetings are in place for “limited” participation from citizens.
Bates acknowledged he was aware of the community petition for Holland, and released a prepared statement to The Ardmoreite Thursday afternoon.
“I appreciate the support Mr. Holland has received from some members of the community, students, parents and staff. His decision to resign and my acceptance of his resignation was conducted in a very professional manner and in accordance with school district board policy. The Board of Education empowers the Superintendent, as agent of the Board, to accept on its behalf letters of resignation from any school district employee. Any resignation received by the superintendent is irrevocable. We thank Mr. Holland for his contributions while principal at Ardmore High School. Any specifics with regards to Mr. Holland’s reason for his resignation or his personnel record while principal at Ardmore High School are, of course, confidential and I am not allowed to divulge,” the statement read.
“All principals within this school district have job responsibilities and they all receive instruction, guidance and support from district administrators to carry out those responsibilities. We work very had to ensure that all of our principals have the tools they need to be successful in all aspects of their job, whether it be working with students, parents and the community or ensuring deadlines are met, projects completed, policies followed, state and federal-level reporting completed, financial reporting submitted, staff evaluations under the new guidelines are completed or any other issue that may arise. It is truly a team effort that I am proud to be part of,” Bates’ statement said.
Tiller said he ultimately wants the best for the students of the school district.
“I have not formulated any thoughts in his recension. His resignation caught me by surprised. I visited with him when he resigned, and he had his reservations,” Tiller said.
“I personally like Kim Holland. I think he has done a good job. I’m not his superior and I want the best for the school system. If Kim Holland is the best, that is what we want, and if someone else is the best, that is what we want.”
Michael Pineda contributed to this article.