The president of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association said he wants a reprimand of teacher Jody Podl removed from her file.

As personnel issues at Shaker Heights High School spill into the central office, the interim superintendent offered an apology to Podl, who is now on medical leave.

The Shaker Heights school board was scheduled to meet Nov. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the upper cafeteria of Shaker Heights High School.

John Morris, president of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association, said the apology from interim superintendent Stephen Wilkins was not enough.

“It’s a good sign, but we’re looking for more action,” Morris said.

Podl was reinstated on Nov. 7 after being placed on administrative leave Oct. 10 during a month-long investigation. She was cleared of discrimination and reprimanded for bullying, intimidation and harassment. 

Podl addressed students in an open letter published by the Shaker Heights High School newspaper, The Shakerite.

"I have taken a medical leave," Podl wrote in the guest column. "However, I want all of you to know that I recognize that the last weeks have not been easy ones for any of you or for the community. They have also not been easy ones for me. I very much wish that events had unfolded differently. We all have suffered. There is a lot of work ahead of us as we reflect on how to handle conflict, how to work together instead of against each other, and how to lead effectively."

Morris posted an open letter on the association’s Facebook page Nov. 7.

“The students and parents were not identified, nor was the facilitator. Jody was so traumatized by this, she was not able to return to work,” Morris wrote. “In all my years in Shaker, I have never seen a teacher so mistreated – especially in response to allegations by students that were directly related to course assignments, grading and academic expectations.”

In addition to his apology, Wilkins said he is "reviewing the performance" of both high school Principal Jonathan Kuehnle, who was placed on administrative leave on Nov. 1, and Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

"They did not live up to my expectations for how to process such reviews," Wilkins wrote. "I will take any appropriate corrective actions pending a thorough examination. We are also revamping our football and cheerleading programs to ensure our students come first." 

Morris praised Glasner as a calming influence at Shaker Heights High School, where the investigation of Podl pitted teachers against students, stressing that the key conflict has been between teachers and administration.

At a Nov. 8 highly charged meeting, more than 900 people poured into Shaker Heights High School demanding specific information about personnel issues that have plagued the school since Oct. 10.

The following day, the Shaker Heights Board of Education issued a letter acknowledging the meeting as a failure.

"Last night's Community Meeting at the High School didn't go as anybody wished," the emailed message read. "We witnessed the emotion the passion and the frustration. We heard you. The climate in our community needs to be immediately addressed."

Scott Stephens, executive director of public relations and communications, moderated the Nov. 8 meeting. When Stephens announced that he would take only written questions, the heckling began.

Parent and Shaker Heights High School alumna Laura Klein stood up, saying, “No paper,” and “We want questions.”

Klein told the Cleveland Jewish News she is dissatisfied with the administration and the school board. 

Several black students complained of inequitable treatment. When people rose to ask questions, Stephens ignored them. Eventually, students took the stage followed by a few parents, who raised concerns.

Four of the five members of the Shaker Heights School Board sat in the audience, while Wilkins and substitute high school principal David Glasner sat at the front of the room.

Glasner was appointed after Kuehnle was placed on leave Nov. 1. Glasner was principal of Shaker Heights Middle School and in July was named executive director of curriculum and instruction. 

As a follow-up to the Nov. 8 meeting, students in Student Group on Race Relations held a two-hour forum attended by about 130 people on Nov. 13. 

The goal was to "disrupt biases people have," said Katrina Cassell, co-leader of operations in the group.

Cheerleading coach Vikki Long resigned Oct. 11, as did an assistant cheerleading coach, following a student’s complaint the assistant coach made comments about the student’s weight.

Varsity football head coach Jarvis Gibson resigned on Oct. 26 after being placed on administrative leave. In 2011, Gibson had hired an assistant coach, Johnathan Harrell, who had a criminal record.

The Nov. 9 letter from the Shaker Heights Board of Education also said the board has hired a search firm of Ray and Associates "to help us select our next superintendent."

It said the consulting firm will conduct in-person interviews, focus groups and an online survey. 

Laura Klein's husband, Dustin Klein, is a member of the board of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company.

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