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Allison Castellano to become new Spanish River High School principal

Allison Castellano
Posted at 6:25 AM, Jul 24, 2019

UPDATE: Allison Castellano will become the next principal of Spanish River High School. She replaces William Latson, who was reassigned after emailing a parent last year that he couldn’t say whether or not the Holocaust was a factual event.

It’s a rare full educational cycle for Castellano. She is a former Spanish River student and teacher, and now she’s in charge there.

She has one child who is currently a student at the school and two other children who graduated from Spanish River. Her mother is a former principal in the Boca Raton area.

“Anyone that knows me knows that Spanish River has always been my dream school,” she said in a one-on-one interview at the school board Wednesday.

She takes over a school that made international headlines earlier this month. William Latson was removed as principal after emails to a parent surfaced from 2018 where he questioned if the Holocaust was a fact.

“We’re moving forward as a school,” she said.

In the search for the replacement, the district hosted a listening session with parents, asking them what they wanted to see in their new principal.

Pete Licata, the South Region Superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District, said in an interview about finding the next principal, “We have to get it right for the community, we have to get it right for the teachers and most importantly we have to get it right for the kids.”

In the search for the replacement, the district hosted a listening session with parents, asking them what they wanted to see in their new principal. They said they wanted a leader who was highly visible. She said that was part of her leadership style when she was a middle school principal. She comes from Omni Middle School, which is across the street from Spanish River.

“I won that community over by being visible. I was at every single night event; I was the first one in the car line in the morning. You will not outwork me. I promise you I will be there for my kids,” she said.

Some parents and students expressed concern during the listening session about someone new coming in.

“You can talk to anybody that has worked for me, they will tell you that I am a compassionate leader, I will listen, I will learn and I will make this transition as easy I possibly can for them,” she said.

Ultimately, she was the top choice that Superintendent Donald Fennoy recommended to the board.

“It’s the community piece,” Licata said. “She had that extra piece, she understands the school, she went there, she knows the community.”

“I care about every single child as if it were my own. I won’t make a decision for a kid a Spanish River that I wouldn’t make for my own child,” she said.

As for Latson, you might remember the original plan was for the district to let his contract simply expire and not renew it. But he is still technically still an employee since he had signed his new contract, so the district has to go through the termination process as they would any other employee

The earliest he could be officially fired is the next meeting on Aug. 21, since it will require a vote from the school board.

EARLIER STORY:

The Palm Beach County School Board is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to approve Allison Castellano as the new principal at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton.

Castellano is a former teacher at Spanish River High School and a graduate herself, according to the district.

The school’s nickname is the “sharks” and in a statement says she is a “shark at heart” and “entrenched” in the Boca Raton community. She has two children who graduated from the school and she had another child at school there now.

Castellano is currently the principal at Omni Middle School also in Boca Raton, so the district says she knows a lot of the students who attend Spanish River and used to go to Omni.

If approved Wednesday evening, Castellano’s first day as principal would be Thursday.

The board meeting begins at 5 p.m.

Castellano would replace William Latson, who was removed from his position after controversial comments about the Holocaust.

The district says the superintendent planned to recommend the school board not renew Latson’s contract, but his “subsequent actions require the district to investigate.” The statement goes on to say the school board meeting to consider the superintendent’s recommendation for termination has not yet been determined.