Coosa Valley News has received an open records request for the personnel file of new Rome City Schools Superintendent Eric Holland.
Some of the interesting finds:
In October 2018, A letter of concern from Fmr. Superintendent Louis Byers regarding purchases made by Holland and his bookkeeper was issued. The statement reads: “I shared with you the results of the audit done by the Finance Department of your school funds. There were numerous questionable purchases and Ms. Star Smith will be reviewing all her findings with you and your bookkeeper. – Below are some of the concerns I mentioned along with others I may not have mentioned but need to be addressed. Purchases of gift cards – this is not allowed at all. Also, I want the comment on Purchase Orders 21212 dated to 6/6.18 to be correcoted. It states the “Purchase Cards for perfect attendance” were “purchased under Dr. Holland’s direction w/ Mr. Byars approval”. I can assure you that I would not approve this. This needs to be corrected IMMEDIATELY. I want to be aware anytime my name is put something like this.
- The excessive purchase of clothing items and embroidery
- The purchase from Queen’s Upholstery for the “Fraternity Chair” (I did not mention this in the meeting but this is a personal purchase and highly inappropriate.)
- I mentioned that the process of leaving a bag at the bank each evening and picking it up the next day is not good procedure at all. This needs to be changed.
- There are numerous times that only one person signed for the deposit. This is also a poor procedure and needs to be corrected.
In October 2019 Byers gave Holland another letter of concern regarding inappropriate behavior with his staff. The letter reads:
Just prior to Fall Break, I was informed that Mr. Carden, CTAE teacher at Rome High School, was tending his resignation. He indicated that he had reported that an incident that he felt you handled inappropriately and that when he brought that to your attention, you did not respond professionally. As a result, he decided he could not work in this type of environment even though it meant the abandonment of his contract.
I have concerns about how this was handled and the overall atmosphere at Rome High School. The departure of teachers over the last few years have caused me great concern. When you came to Rome High School there were 97 teachers (includes the 2 academic coaches). Of those 97, only 56 remained at the beginning of this year. During the first two years of your tenure, you hired 59 teachers of which only 37 remain. That equates to 22 teachers that you hired in the those first two years leaving which is a 37% loss rate. This is not acceptable.
This year you have 122 teachers of which 66 are the ones that you have hired. We have already lost two of those teachers in the first 40 days of school. These trends cannot continue.
Last year, during another personnel issue, we discussed your people skills and the tone you take when dealing with your staff. I mentioned to you during today’s conversation that your tone has been reported as abrasive whether it is in person, in an email, over the radio, ect. You tend to be very reactive to situations instead of being measured and professional in your responses…. There appears to be great concern among your staff and a growing lack of trust.
Therefore, in an effort to gain a better understanding of the situation, I, along with Dr. Williams, will be more involved in what is happening at Rome High School. I have asked Dr. Williams to not only observe what is occurring at the school but also provide you with some mentorship when it comes to leading the school. I will also be taking a more active role in the day-to-day activities at Rome High School. Anytime you are meeting with small groups such as your Academic Coaches, your Assistant Principals, Counselors, Leadership Team, ect. I want either Dr. Williams or me to be in attendance. Therefore, I need a complete schedule of all your meetings.
In March 2020 from Frm. Supt. Louis Byars
During our meeting to discuss who would be getting contracts for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, we discussed your contract and the expectations going forward. I am following up with this letter to avoid any confusion and to provide clarity as to what my expectations are. (blacked out). I reiterated during this meeting on March 6 that I am still concerned.
I stated that we would be sending you a contract for the upcoming school year but I am still evaluating your performance….
Additionally, if there is no improvement or the performance gets worse when it comes to (blacked out) we will have to review what we are going to do next year. As I stated on March 6, I will be reviewing the recruitment and retention of staff at Rome High School along with the overall performance of Rome High School. I also stated that you need to improve some of your processes such as the submission of discipline referrals that need approval.
As you should be aware, the contract offered to you is between you and Rome City Schools. If the situation does not get better and potentially gets worse over the next few months, we may have to discuss a potential movement to another position within Rome City Schools. I wanted to make sure this is clear as you review your contract and that there is no misunderstanding.
CVN has also issued an open record request on text and emails between Dr. Eric Holland and Rome City School Board Members Toni Blanchard and Pascha Burge.