The St. Paul school district’s plan to replace a longtime West Side school leader is drawing criticism from supporters.
Four people stepped to the microphone during the public comment period of the school board’s monthly meeting Tuesday to voice support for Mike Sodomka, principal of Humboldt High School.
“I was devastated when I heard,” Debbie Luna, a former president of Humboldt’s Parent Teacher Organization, told school board members. In and outside the boardroom, supporters wore Humboldt colors. Luna asked district leaders to rethink the move.
The pushback, which also has included letters from current and former staff members suggesting Sodomka was being made a scapegoat for lackluster test scores, comes after Joshua Delich, a district assistant superintendent, wrote to “Humboldt colleagues” saying leadership changes were coming and that the school would have a new principal in the 2020-21 school year.
He added Sodomka would remain at the helm through the current school year to ensure a “smooth transition,” but he did not give a reason for the change.
Nor did Kevin Burns, a district spokesman, when asked for additional information Tuesday night.
He wrote in an e-mail: “Mike Sodomka is principal at Humboldt High School and will remain in that position through the end of the current school year. Next year he will be serving in a leadership role within SPPS, and that role has yet to be determined.”
In 2009-10, Humboldt junior and senior highs merged — and Sodomka, then the high school principal, was put in charge.
This year, English language learners make up nearly half of the school’s 1,161 students. Proficiency rates are low on state standardized tests.
Retiree Greg Moon, who taught at Humboldt for six years, said it can take more than four years for students to succeed. He had been a substitute elsewhere, he added, and would put Sodomka at the top of the list of principals he’d worked with.
Valerie Shirley, whose son has special needs, said her son had found a home at Humboldt, and that the decision to replace Sodomka should be rescinded or at least publicly explained. Removing him seemed to be “the direct opposite of what’s best for our kids,” she said.
Delich said the district aims to have a new leader in place by July 1.