New Principal Plans to Fix Problems at Patterson Elementary

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PANAMA CITY - The new administration at Patterson Elementary School isn't wasting any time tackling a huge issue.

Last Friday the state released school grades, showing Patterson as the only failing school in Bay County's history.

Parents aren't too pleased to hear about the failing letter grade and are hoping new leadership will be the solution.

Parents are starting to learn their child may be going to an elementary school that received a failing grade.

"Well as a mother I'm shocked. I'm not shocked just because of the grade, but since I switched my son to Patterson, he's been reading and writing and doing a whole lot more than the previous school," said Peggy Cuyler, a parent.

District administrators received word Friday that Patterson received an "F".Superintendent Bill Husfelt had already appointed a new principal at Patterson before the announcement.

She says she's up for the challenge of bringing Patterson back up.

"The fact that we are the only "F" school in the county and one of the lowest 100 in the state of Florida is overwhelming and it gives you that sense of urgency that we all need to get on board," said Patti Fowler, the new principal of Patterson Elementary.

Fowler's priorities will include improving student behavior and school attendance. She's also concerned some parents may place their children at other schools.

"I worry about that and I don't want parents to give up on Patterson. I'm here to hopefully lead that transformation," said Fowler.

Florida law allows students to switch to other school if their school receives an "F" grade.

Some question if that's possible at Patterson because the school is still under a 1988 federal consent order requiring a racial balance.

School district officials are still studying that issue to remain in compliance with both the transfer law and the consent order.

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