East Cleveland Schools CEO Presents Road to Recovery Plan

Dr. Henry Pettiegrew II spoke with members of the community after presenting his plan to turn around the East Cleveland School District.
Dr. Henry Pettiegrew II spoke with members of the community after presenting his plan to turn around the East Cleveland School District. [iDarrielle Snipes / ideastream]

The CEO of East Cleveland's troubled school system presented his improvement plan to the Academic Distress Commission and the community Thursday night.

Doctor Henry Pettiegrew II says it will take children and adults working together with teachers and administrators to turn around the district.

Pettiegrew's plan calls for an overhaul of how the district runs the front office, hires and trains teachers and creates lesson plans.

In his first few weeks on the job, Pettiegrew held a listening tour to get input from staff, parents and community residents.

He says he wants to install a 20-day instructional cycle that will allow teachers to test a student, assess progress and then concentrate on the areas where that student is struggling. Pettiegrew also wants teachers to regularly meet with parents.

"We are going to have high-level conversations about what can we do," said Pettiegrew.  "Parents will leave the meeting with a math problem that we will teach to the parents so they can teach their child.  It is something to reinforce. So that in the next two weeks of this cycle you can do work as well. We need you to be a partner in the work."

Pettiegrew would like to reduce absenteeism by asking students and their families why they are not attending school.

His multi-faceted plan calls for supporting students who are dealing with stress and other barriers to learning by introducing mindfulness techniques in the classroom.

Curtis Scruggs, whose daughter is in the ninth grade, says he is taking  a wait and see approach on Pettiegrew's plan.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," he said. "It sounded good. But a lot of things sounded good. I will be at this meeting a year from now to see if everything he said, all his plans, have been implemented and come to fruition."

The Academic Distress Commission has 30 days to approve this plan.

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