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Donahue Academy Initiates Search for New Head of School

Uncertainty felt by many parents about the future of the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria has not been eased by a statement from the board of directors that it has begun a search for new headmaster to replace respected headmaster Mark Jahnke. The announcement comes just a month after the board said in a letter to parents that it was "pleased that Mr. Jahnke has agreed to return again next year as interim headmaster."

In a June 8 statement following a board meeting earlier in the week, the board said it now was "pleased that Mr. Jahnke will be returning to the classroom to teach Donahue students." The statement also said that Tyler Graham, who assumed the position of academic dean at the same time that Mr. Jahnke became headmaster a year ago, would also be moving out of administrative responsibilities and returning to the classroom.

Both were teaching at the K-12 Catholic school when the board asked them to take on the leadership roles in the wake of the departure of Regina Code, the head of school who resigned one year after taking over from founding headmaster Dan Guernsey.

The board statement did not give reasons for the about-face regarding Mr. Jahnke, saying only that "Mr. Mark Jahnke's contract as interim headmaster ends at the end of this month and on Monday the Board made the decision to begin a search for a permanent headmaster who has the requisite credentials and experience. Working in close consultation with Dr. Kristy Swol, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Venice, and at her recommendation, Donahue will be retaining the executive search firm Catholic Recruiter Associates to assist in the search for a new headmaster.

Board Chairman Michael Schwartz did not respond to an email from the Ave Herald seeking additional information regarding the decision and the nature of the involvement of the diocesan Catholic schools office.

The diocese, in response to a query from The Ave Herald, said in a statement that Dr. Swol's involvement was limited to responding to a question from an unnamed board member asking for a recommendation for a search firm. The statement called the board's statement that there was close co-operation between the board and Dr. Swol "a vast exaggeration."

Donahue achieved "affiliated" status with the diocese in 2012, meaning that the school – while not a diocesan institution – was recognized by the diocese and could use the word "Catholic" in its literature. Affiliation agreements are reviewed for renewal every five years.

Many parents at Donahue were already concerned about previous actions of the board of directors not to renew contracts of three popular staff members: Dean of Formation and head football coach Rich Scanlon, art teacher Mary Stuller and assistant Athletic Director Janet DeLiso.

For further background click on links below.

June 11 column in Naples Daily News Collier Citizen by Ave Herald Editor Patricia Sette, Teacher firings, board changes raise concerns in Donahue community

May 30 Ave Herald story Parents, Staff and Students at Donahue Academy Upset by Recent Staff Cuts

May 14 column in Naples Daily News Collier Citizen by Ave Herald Editor Patricia Sette, New headmaster completes his first year at Donahue Academy 

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