VILLA HILLS, Ky. - Criticism continued Tuesday of the decision by Villa Madonna Academy President/CEO Anne Maxfield to restructure the private school's administration.
The plan Maxfield announced last week eliminates the positions of elementary school Principal Soshona Bosley and high school Principal Pamela McQueen for the 2013-2014 school year. Both are under contract through June 30.
Instead, a position of Chief Academic Officer will be created -- a job for which both women will be able to submit applications.
Hundreds of students, parents and alumni have protested the move on Facebook. Many appeared at the Villa Hills campus Tuesday night for a prayer rally in support of Bosley and McQueen.
That occurred despite Board Chairperson Mary Paula Schuh and Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, Prioress of St. Walburg Monastery, urging people not to participate.
"Prayers & Peace...Not Picketing," was the headline on a letter sent to parents, faculty, staff and alumni.
The Villa Hills school is operated by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery and many of the sisters live on the grounds off Amsterdam Road.
"Let us use prayer and peace in place of protests and anger to find answers," the letter continued. "Let us stay mindful of the well-being and safety of our students who make up the Villa Madonna community."
The rally coincided with a meeting of the Board of Directors. Board Chairperson Mary Paula Schuh wouldn't disclose the agenda for the closed session at the private school, other than to say it was a regularly scheduled meeting.
In response to questions from 9 On Your Side, Maxfield sent an email which read, "The VIlla Community is expressing their viewpoints both for and against. The Board of Directors is grateful for the feedback regarding the changes and will discuss it at their meeting."
Members of the media were told not to come on school grounds because it's private property. Maxfield followed her initial email with one which read, "I will be glad to get back with you at some point tomorrow when I have more details."
Villa Madonna senior Zach Kenney started a Facebook page to try and save McQueen's job. He quickly had dozens of "likes" posted on the site.
"I've been at Villa since first grade and the thing that it has going for it is it's more family than a business," he said. "These principals really embody that and you don't have to be afraid of them. You can talk to them. You feel comfortable with them and there's just no reason that they should leave. Their positions are important."
Kenney's father, Chris, is among parents protesting the change.
"Villa Madonna's an incredible school," he said of the academy, which has twice been named a Blue Ribbon school. "The parents, the students, the alumni are all very passionate about the school. We think we have the best principal and the best teachers and we just want to keep it that way. It's worked well in the past."
The number of people signing the on-line petition to save the jobs of both principals had climbed past 560 by Tuesday evening.
Lynn Kenney was the first to sign.
"Please help us support Mrs. McQueen and Mrs. Bosley," she wrote. "They are key to the success of Villa."
Christy Meyer said she was disappointed that the decisions were made without any discussion with parents.
"I cannot support changes that are unclear and ill-defined," read her post.
Laura Mate said she's concerned that Maxfield is trying to run the school like a corporation.
"It does not need a CEO or Chief Academic Officer," she said. "It needs the two outstanding women it already has -- Mrs. Bosley and Mrs. McQueen."
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