Hollister charter school co-founder steps down

Hollister Prep is looking to renew its contract.

James Dent, a co-founder of Navigator Schools that runs Hollister Prep School, has decided to step down from his position as executive director at the end of this school year, according to a press release from the school.
Dent made the announcement to staff yesterday, then sent a letter home with parents sharing the same information, explained Kirsten Carr, the director of community outreach for Navigator Schools.
In late May, unhappy parents from Gilroy’s charter school cited a “pattern of mismanagement” and a host of other issues in a letter to Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Debbie Flores and requested a public forum to air concerns about Navigator Schools and its leadership and for trustees to explore the charter’s future.
Number one on the letter writers’ must-do list was the ouster of Dent, according to the letter, signed by Dr. Sonya Woolsey on behalf of the others. When asked if Dent’s decision was related to recent parent complaints, Carr said it was not.
“It’s actually not,” Carr said. “One of the things that James has worked very hard on over the last six months is cleaning up the entire net of violations we received from the Gilroy Unified School District.”
Dent could not be reached immediately for comment.
Navigator operates two charter schools that have made headlines over the years for their high academic performances: Gilroy Prep and Hollister Prep.
Dent will return next year to focus exclusively on academics and instruction, according to the press release.
“James decided that for both himself and the future of Navigator Schools, his passion and his expertise lie in the educational side of the arena,” Carr said.
In a letter to parents, Dent emphasized the importance of placing team members in positions that are best suited for their specific talents, interests and skills.
“The exception to the being ‘in the right seat’ was myself,” Dent wrote in the letter. “In taking on the Executive Director role, my time and energy to play to my strengths, which are the academics of Navigator, were divided. The executive director role must be dedicated to the organization’s growth and business needs as well. Time must be dedicated to charter authorizer relations, overseeing compliance issues and fostering relationships with external entities such as funders and the greater charter school community. While I can do this work acceptably, I have realized that my passion and value to Navigator is best served when I can work on the academics with the educational team we have assembled.”
The Navigator Schools’ Board has retained the executive search firm Edgility Consulting to hire a replacement, according to the school’s press release.
The Navigator board will hold forums where the public can ask questions and share input 3:45 p.m. today at the Hollister Prep campus at 881 Line St. and at 7 p.m. at the Gilroy Prep campus at 277 IOOF Ave., Gilroy.

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