Some parents weighed in with the Solon Board of Education during a special meeting on Monday, voicing both opposition and support of the district’s reinstatement of High School Principal Erin A. Short.
Ms. Short, 48, a resident of Bainbridge Township, resumed her duties as principal March 12 following a three-week investigation into allegations associated with a relationship with a former student.
She had been placed on paid administrative leave during the police investigation and then reinstated after it was determined by the prosecutor that no charges would be filed against her and the case was deemed closed.
“Why does the school board feel it is appropriate to reinstate high school Principal Erin Short based on legality alone?” parent Mark Liner wrote in a letter to the school board read out loud by Superintendent Fred Bolden. “Where is your morality? Where is your worry for the safety of our students?”
Mr. Liner continued that this incident happened 15 years ago and asked, “Is the school doing anything to investigate whether there have been more abused students over the years?”
Mr. Liner noted the incident involving former Solon High School band director Ed Kline who was indicted by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury on 19 counts of gross sexual imposition last September. Both Mr. Kline and Ms. Short used their positions of authority to pursue sexual relationships with students, he said.
Get them out of the school system, Mr. Liner wrote in the letter to the school board.
Parent Heather Ferris wrote to the board in support of Ms. Short.
“She is honest, trustworthy and kind,” Ms. Ferris wrote. “The admiration and respect she has garnered from students is unparalleled.”
Ms. Ferris said of the relationship with a former student, that they were “two legal adults entering into a consensual relationship. There is nothing illegal or even inappropriate,” she wrote.
But parents Craig and Jenny Siemen wrote that, while not criminal, the situation shows a lack of good judgment on Ms. Short’s part.
The Siemens urged the district to look into this matter further and pursue code of conduct violations through the Ohio Department of Education.
“This situation breaks the trust parents have in Ms. Short as principal,” they wrote. “The situation is extremely troubling and brings doubt that the district is acting in the best interest of the students.”
The Siemens asked that Ms. Short resign and for school officials to take further action.
Parent Michelle Shene said she is in full support of Ms. Short’s reinstatement and has the “utmost confidence” in her leading the high school.
“We as a district should not be the morality police,” Ms. Shene wrote. “When we start policing personal lives, we draw the line.”
She said Ms. Short has a stellar reputation as an administrator.
“I’ve watched her cheer athletes, scholars and artists,” parent Marilena DiSilvio wrote. “She knew everyone’s name.
“Without her, Solon High School is just another school.”
Parent Amy Goldman also expressed her sincere support of Ms. Short’s return to her role.
“It brings peace of mind that she is back in the role,” Ms. Goldman wrote. “I have complete confidence in her.”
Ms. Short is an “outstanding leader,” parent Donna Thomas said, and one who presents a balance of rigor and compassion.
“She is the most capable person to run Solon High School,” added parent Nancy Westrich.
In response, Mr. Bolden thanked everyone for their messages, and emphasized the fact that the district took these allegations seriously and took action immediately.
“Within 12 hours of receipt of the first anonymous email, we had already been in communication with police and began the process of the investigation.”
He noted that when there is an ongoing police investigation, communication with the school community has to be tempered. That is because the internal review process runs parallel to a police investigation, he added.
Mr. Bolden said that as part of their internal review process, they sent a full report to the Ohio Department of Education.
He also assured families that action will be taken if any new information is presented.
“If there is information that is uncovered that warrants action, that action will be taken,” Mr. Bolden said. “We care deeply about the kids of this district, and we care deeply about their safety.”