Joel Katte said he is leaving his job as principal of Lexington's Meadowthorpe Elementary. Katte said he is taking a Central Office post, but not because of complaints from critics about his time at Meadowthorpe.
Katte said he will consider it "a privilege and an honor" to be the administrator of Fayette County Public Schools alternative programs for at-risk youth.
He notified parents of his departure Monday. Supporters and critics alike spoke out about Katte in late 2014. Two parents, a grandparent, a teacher and a former staffer were among those who told the school board Oct. 27 that there were problems at Meadowthorpe. They made public their concerns about teacher turnover, communication and declining student achievement at a school board meeting.
One parent, Traci Letcher, told the Herald-Leader in October that more than 150 people signed a Change.org petition seeking a resolution.
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On Monday, Letcher said, "I am excited for Mr. Katte's next position."
One issue raised by some parents is that Meadowthorpe dropped in state proficiency testing in 2013-14 — from a classification of "distinguished" to "needs improvement."
Former superintendent Tom Shelton said at the time that district officials were working on a plan to improve communication and collaboration at the school and analyzing test scores to develop an improvement plan.
Other parents and teachers have said they supported Katte.
Katte, responding to an email message Monday from the Herald-Leader, said the public concerns didn't lead to his departure.
"I feel called to support the teaching staffs of the Lexington Day Treatment Center, Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center, and our Family Care Center that educates young mothers to ensure these programs' students receive a world-class education that will set each student up for a healthy, successful, and rewarding life," Katte wrote in the email message.
"My first teaching position was in an alternative setting for middle school students, and my last teaching experience was in an alternative high school. Both of those experiences had profoundly positive impacts on my education philosophy, leadership and professional commitments, and I am eager to work in these very important educational settings again."
Fayette County schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Meadowthorpe's school-based council will meet this week to decide next steps. That group could request that district officials appoint an interim principal, or site-based council members could immediately proceed with selecting a principal, Deffendall said.