December 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay principal fired over student test scores

Pete Cahall, gay news, Washington Blade

Wilson High Principal Peter Cahall came out publicly in June during his school’s Pride Day. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Peter Cahall, the principal at D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson High School who was praised by students and city officials when he came out as gay at the school’s Pride Day event in June, told members of the City Council on Monday that his contract has not been renewed.

In a letter to all Council members, Cahall said John Davis, the chief of schools, told him on Dec. 2 that his tenure as principal would end at the conclusion of the current school year next June because “I have not moved the school forward academically” based on student test scores.

“The decision to not renew my contract is purely capricious and arbitrary,” he said in his letter.

News of Cahall’s termination was first reported Friday afternoon by the Washington City Paper, which obtained a copy of Cahall’s letter and published it on its website.

School officials have declined to comment on Cahall’s letter or the decision not to renew his contract, saying all school personnel matters must remain confidential.

Cahall couldn’t immediately be reached by the Washington Blade for comment.

The Washington Post, which reached Cahall Friday afternoon, reported he was surprised and disappointed upon learning his contract would not be renewed.

“I was hoping to finish out the year strong and go quietly knowing that I have left the school in a good place,” the Post quoted him as saying.

Cahall became the subject of national headlines in June when he announced at a Pride Day event hosted by his school that he’s gay and that his colleagues and teachers at the school, whom he said he had informed earlier, were fully supportive of him and his decision to come out.

More than 100 students and guests attending the Pride Day gathering cheered loudly when Cahall made his announcement.

Among those attending the event were D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large). Both hugged Cahall after his coming out announcement and praised him and others for helping make Wilson High School a welcoming place for its highly diverse student body, including LGBT students.

“My heart and soul is with Wilson,” Cahall said in his letter to the D.C. Council. “However, I can find another school community to serve. When one door closes, many more doors will open.”

In his two-page letter Cahall included 22 bullet point items describing what he said were his accomplishments during his six-year tenure as principal at Wilson, including planning and managing a $120 million modernization project for the school campus and increases in student proficiency in mathematics and English Language Arts.

“I wish you well in moving the school system forward and want nothing more than for DCPS to be successful,” he said in his letter. “Unfortunately, when you have this type of adversarial relationship with the leaders of the schools, I do not believe that success is possible,” he said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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