Lakewood High update

‘Lakewood needs and deserves an effective, caring leadership team committed to educational excellence as the first priority and athletics as supplemental activities,’ said Dr. Goliath Davis, III.

BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D., Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — The saga of Hollywood High continues. Recently, the district posted announcements informing current principals, assistant principals and others that there will be two assistant principal vacancies at Lakewood High for the upcoming school year.

Some predict more announcements are forthcoming. As previously reported, members of Principal Erin Savage’s leadership team were allegedly placed on “success plans” where strengths and deficiencies were delineated along with expected improvements.

Many ask whether or not the school leader was also placed on a “success plan” and, with the current revelations, embrace a slogan that has permeated the community for years: “Fish rot from the head.” In other words, are subordinates going to be sacrificed for leadership failure?

I can honestly say no one is advocating termination for any of the leadership team members, but it is generally believed a total change will benefit the entire Lakewood High community. Perhaps all could benefit from a change of environment. There is little confidence that a partial change will correct the deficiencies and reestablish a culture that values achievement, discipline, and learning.

This is the third consecutive year where approximately half of the seniors at Lakewood are not eligible for graduation for a host of easily identifiable reasons. The question that must be answered is why?

Why aren’t systems in place to identify scholars who are not on track and if said systems exist, why are they not monitored so that corrective measures can be made prior to the crisis that has occurred for the last three years.

Once again, I readily admit parents and scholars must also share some accountability. Additionally, I recognize scholars at other district high schools are also off track for graduation; however, the culture at Lakewood is such that the problem appears more pronounced. The calls I receive question why the situation is allowed to continue.

I recall, over the years, being told the district is committed to site-based management. While I agree in principle with the concept, accountability cannot be ignored.

If the community is aware of Lakewood’s leadership deficiencies, surely those in the district office must also be aware, thereby causing many to wonder why the situation is allowed to persist, given some leaders at other schools are readily removed for less egregious behavior.

So, we must wait and see what remedies will be implemented at Lakewood. Hopefully, the district will be able to place leadership team members in positions where they can be successful and not adversely impact the lives and future careers of the scholars they are entrusted to educate.

Equally important, Lakewood needs and deserves an effective, caring leadership team committed to educational excellence as the first priority and athletics as supplemental activities.

Graduation is now upon us. Parents, grandparents, and siblings will attend graduation ceremonies and cheer for their loved ones. Some will not realize that too many scholars will be allowed to walk across the stage but will need summer school or other interventions to receive a substandard concordance degree.

All components of our community need to be better served by the current situation. Schools need the assistance of parents, scholars, volunteers and service organizations to reverse the current trend.

Goliath Davis is a former chief of police and deputy mayor for the City of St. Petersburg who actively advocates for education in Pinellas County.

3 Replies to “Lakewood High update”

  1. Albert says:

    What this article fails to mention is that the two non-renewed administrators were both minorities.
    The reason for the problems that plague Lakewood begin and end with Joseph Serra. His changes to AP Biology caused last years drop in overall test scores. His inability to discipline student cause additional strain on his fellow administrators. Despite his shortcomings, Erin Savage still goes out of her way to protect him due to his friends at district, specifically Micheal Vigue.
    In a school with a 73% minority population, they have choose to keep two white administrators and release the two minority administrators. Teachers and counselors, the regular academic program and in the schools magnet programs, have been heading for the exits.
    The school which is already understaffed will be put in a worse position and the true victims will be the students. Unfortunately, PCSB only sees statistics on a spreadsheet and not the true impact that Mrs. Tequena Akintonde and Ms. Cristina Calderon have had on the students.

    1. Lina says:

      Mr. Serra, indeed, was one of the most effective administrators at LHS. You should check your facts before posting these statements.

  2. Ronald says:

    My concern is not with Ms.Savage it is with her personal feelings about her teacher. Ms.Savage has chosen to take the Band Director with her due to her personal issues with the teacher. Ms. Savage told several parents of the band that Mr. Lyles did nothing unprofessional to be dismissed, in a meeting the parents initiated to pled for the return of one of the best teachers at Lakewood. Mr. Lyles took over as the Band Director three years ago. He has built the band from the ground up. Mr. Lyles is dedicated to his students everyday. He takes the time to understand what they are going through in life. He is the one his student feel like they can talk to. I have a few children in my family that attend Lakewood and will be devastated if Mr. Lyles does not return. Over the years every senior in the bend has been given a scholarship to a college along with much needed bedding and a microwave for their dorm room. These are young and women most from low income families. Mr. Lyles does not just focus on the band and the music, he will shut down practice to help the student with their school work.

    I could go on and write a book about the things he has done for my children while at Lakewood. I want to know how can a school board let a teacher who is dedicated to the students and personally cares about each and everyone and their families be let go due to the personal issues of Ms. Savage has. Please reach out to anyone who can help.

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