Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Embattled Hudson Middle School principal to keep her post

A survey said Terry Holback damaged morale at the school.

A survey said Terry Holback damaged morale at the school.

HUDSON — Hudson Middle School principal Terry Holback has weathered a storm of staff criticism to retain her job for another year.

"I'm not planning on making a principal change at Hudson Middle," said superintendent Kurt Browning, who at one point had the position on his short list for added scrutiny. "We've had a coach working with Ms. Holback. I believe that she is changing."

Holback's name went to the School Board on Tuesday for reappointment.

In July 2012, she was bandied about as one of the most disdained principals in Pasco County schools.

The United School Employees of Pasco released a climate survey that showed an overwhelming majority of teachers had negative views of Holback, who took over the school in 2010. They said she had damaged morale and treated staff members unprofessionally. By September, School Board members were raising concerns about Holback's fitness as they continued to receive complaints.

A district-sponsored climate survey conducted in early 2013 showed Hudson Middle lagging behind most other Pasco County middle schools in key areas such as whether employees like working there and whether the administration handles conflict constructively.

USEP president Lynne Webb said this week that she continues to hear negative comments about Holback from her members, despite a large staff turnover at the school.

"The feedback I've gotten is that, while things have settled down some, there is still a lot of room for improvement," Webb said. "I personally expressed to the superintendent that I was disappointed that she was not among those (principals) who he was moving."

Webb suggested it would be more fair to everyone to give Holback a second chance to lead at a different location where she could make a fresh start.

Holback said she had taken the climate surveys seriously, and that she was trying to improve where she is.

"I am very pleased that I will be able to continue working with the wonderful families, teachers, and staff that make up the Cougar Nation!" she said via email. "We appreciate the superintendent's confidence in us."

Browning expressed confidence that Holback's work with retired principal and administrator Renee Sedlack as a mentor was having a positive effect.

"She is understanding the bigger picture of how you manage a middle school and how you deal with staff and students," he said of Holback.

Sedlack, who teaches graduate-level education leadership courses at Saint Leo University, started working with Holback in February. She said the principal convened focus groups of employees soon after getting the district's survey results to learn more about their concerns.

She then set targets for the coming year.

"My three goals for the coming year include establishing a positive behavior support system, continuing to improve communication processes in the medium that best meets the needs of stakeholders, and to work on relationship building," Holback explained. "I shared these goals with the staff to be sure that I was meeting their expectations. I have used this school year's culture survey as my baseline data and plan to use next year's survey to measure my progress."

Browning said he will conduct another climate survey of all schools in the winter, to ensure they are focused on the needs of children rather than the struggles of adults.

Sedlack credited Holback for taking the often-harsh criticisms to heart and committing to change. At the same time, Sedlack acknowledged that not all is perfect at Hudson Middle.

"It takes time to build trust," she said. "I think that things are getting better. Yes. All right? I can't say that. She has a plan in place for things to get better. She is sincerely concerned about doing a better job."

Shortly after taking office in November, Browning also announced he would pay close attention to two other schools.

He moved to fire Connerton Elementary principal Anna Falcone this spring, amid accusations that she was insubordinate in the way she pursued confidential climate survey responses. A settlement is in the works. Sedlack also had been counseling Falcone.

He didn't pursue any action regarding Wesley Chapel High principal Carin Nettles. He said early complaints from Wesley Chapel High did not persist.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Embattled Hudson Middle School principal to keep her post 06/18/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  2. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  3. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  4. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more

    Blogs

    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have