Westlake superintendent stuns with resignation

Superintendent Dr. Daniel J. Keenan at Westlake High School during a January ceremony honoring him as the 2014 Ohio Superintendent of the Year.

After seven years of leading the Westlake City School District, Superintendent Dr. Daniel J. Keenan Jr. announced his resignation, effective July 31, 2014, to accept the position of executive director of the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. Dr. Keenan made the announcement during the April 3 Board of Education meeting, surprising many in the room.

Dr. Keenan joined the Westlake Schools on Aug. 1, 2007. His tenure was punctuated by significant progress in the Westlake City School District. His tenure has been a collaborative one with the Westlake community. He sought input and direction from the community on major issues through a variety of committees and has been applauded for being a dedicated educator and manager.

Academically, he oversaw continual updates of the district’s Continuous Improvement Plan, including a summit in 2010 that overhauled the document with the help of business, community and education leaders. He also oversaw the introduction of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme at the elementary level and initiated the IB Diploma Programme at Westlake High School. The district received the top rating of Excellent on the state report card each year under Dr. Keenan’s tenure and achieved its highest performance index scores in school district history.

On the facilities front, Dr. Keenan organized a 20/20 Vision Committee in 2008 that drafted a master facilities plan for the district. That work paid off in 2010 with the passage of a bond issue that led to the opening of a new high school and a new middle school in 2013. A newly remodeled Dover Intermediate School will open this fall.

The district has consistently earned recognition at the state and national level for its accounting practices and comprehensive annual financial reports. In 2011 Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed the district’s Aa1 bond rating, placing Westlake in the top 4 percent of all Ohio schools. Similarly Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services assigned its AA+/stable long-term rating to the school district.

Dr. Keenan’s work also was recognized outside of Westlake. He received one of the 2012 Cleveland State University Distinguished Alumni Awards to recognize his service, achievements and dedication to the field of education. This year he was selected as the Ohio Superintendent of the Year through the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.

Board President Carol Winter thanked Dr. Keenan for leading the school district through challenging and exciting times over the past seven years.

“You helped us realize that some of our challenges can be turned into opportunities for our district,” Winter said. “I have learned many great things about leadership from you. A superintendent’s average tenure is two to three years. It’s very telling about you as an individual that you’ve been here for seven years. I don’t know that I’ve met anyone with such a strong moral compass.”

The Jennings Foundation is a leader in the field of education across Ohio as a grant provider to the state’s secular schools. Dr. Keenan has served on the Foundation’s distribution committee for several years.

“Westlake has been a very special place to me and my family. I am deeply grateful to our excellent administrators, teachers, advisors, coaches, support staff and Board of Education for their passion and focused efforts toward our mission to Educate for Excellence,” Dr. Keenan said, adding that he is most thankful to the students. “I have always been so impressed by how the students of the Westlake City Schools have consistently achieved at the highest level academically while demonstrating an understanding of the importance of involvement in service as well as in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.”

No timetable has been set for appointing a successor, but the Westlake Board of Education began discussing the vacancy a week after Dr. Keenan's announcement.

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Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 10:26 AM, 04.15.2014