Mentor changes its mind about hiring Austintown superintendent

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Mentor School District decided not the hire Austintown’s highly-criticized superintendent after complaints from parents.

Wednesday, Mentor Public Schools issued a news release stating they were going to hire Colaluca, who said he was going to accept the job. He was expected to be appointed at Mentor’s Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

According to a reporter with the News-Herald in Lake County, a large crowd of about 200 people — many of whom complained about Colaluca’s issues in Austintown — protested the board’s decision at that the meeting. In the end, the Mentor Board decided not to hire him.

Last year, some parents in Austintown started a petition asking for Colaluca’s removal. They asked that his contract not be renewed, citing problems with open enrollment and poor report card grades.

“Open enrollment is a big issue. It’s not that we want it to go away, but we want it managed,” said Mandy Richmond of Austintown.

Despite their parents’ grievances, the Austintown School Board decided to keep Colaluca in the position.

After hearing about Mentor’s rejection on Thursday, Colaluca said he’s content to stay in the area.

“Austintown is a great place and I love the work we have done there, but we looked at taking our family to a different direction and a little different part of the state, and it just didn’t work out in our favor this time.”

Colaluca said he is not actively seeking a new job.

The Mentor School Board decided to hire an interim superintendent and schedule another meeting to decide how to proceed from here.

Colaluca has led the Austintown Local Schools for the past eight years. Mentor’s Board of Education said they were impressed that under Colaluca’s leadership, Austintown Schools went from academic watch to excellent with distinction, as determined by the Ohio Department of Education.

“I like what we have done in Austintown. The reason I stayed and the reason I accepted that 3-year contract was because it is a great place,” Colulucca said earlier on Thursday.

But when opportunity came knocking, Colalucca had to consider a move. He said there are few opportunities which could have enticed him to leave, and that Mentor came after him through a recruiting firm.

Colaluca said his decision to take the position at Mentor — before the board changed its mind — wasn’t made due to the petition started by Austintown parents. He said Mentor was a larger school district and a good opportunity for his family.