Parents cry foul over firing of Osceola school principal



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A well-liked elementary school principal is off the job, accused of creating a hostile working environment among teachers.

The superintendent decided not to renew Holly Willis’ contract at the end of the school year, and that sparked a strong reaction from students and parents.

Willis said she had no idea that staffers complained about her at the school, but it was apparently so serious that the superintendent decided to have her fired.

Parents packed a school board meeting Tuesday night to express their concerns over the decision.

The support for the ousted principal was so intense, it brought some parents to tears.

The dozens of parents who spoke described Willis as a good leader and an inspiration to their children.

“Every single one of my children just loves her, and can’t wait to see her,” one parent, who wasn’t named, said.

A district spokeswoman said an investigation is finished, but it can’t be released yet.

Willis sounded off, and explained why she was let go.

“I received a letter of an investigation on Friday, May 30, regarding possible harassment of staff members. Needless to say, I was in shock,” Willis said.

Sources told Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes some teachers complained Willis was verbally abusive and fostered a hostile working environment.

She’s also accused of recently changing grade and room assignments at the A-rated school.

The teacher’s union president lashed into her.

“If you have such a great school, why are 30 teachers being moved?” said union president Apryle Jackson.

Willis said the school board was never given specific examples of her alleged behavior, and that she had no chance to defend herself.

“Nobody talked to her and it just rubbed me the wrong way,” said Osceola School Board member Jay Wheeler.

District administrators are on annual contracts, which means they can be fired at the end of the school year for any reason.

The superintendent’s office did not comment on the investigation.