Rock Terrace School’s acting principal has become its permanent principal.
Katherine Lertora will continue at the helm of the Rockville school where she has served in an acting role so far this school year.
Her appointment was announced at the county school board’s Monday meeting.
“I’ve grown very fond of the students and staff here at Rock Terrace,” Lertora said Tuesday. “They are an amazing group of individuals, students, staff and families.”
Rock Terrace serves about 86 students who are developmentally disabled, according to the school system’s Schools at a Glance report for the 2013-14 school year.
Lertora said she decided to apply for the permanent position because it fit her experience with and interest in supporting students with disabilities.
She served as the coordinator/administrator at the Stephen Knolls School in Kensington before becoming acting principal at Rock Terrace.
She took over the spot left open by former principal Dianne G. Thornton, who retired in August.
In June, parents raised allegations that Rock Terrace staff mishandled money students earned while in a work-study program that went into bank accounts at the Education Systems Federal Credit Union.
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating how school staff handled the funds.
The school has worked to improve how it manages its finances and focused on the quality of its instructional programs, including both academic and elective classes, Lertora said.
As the permanent principal, she said, she will help make sure the school provides “appropriate opportunities” to help individual students.
“It’s an opportunity to really focus on what’s good for students and evaluating the strength of the different classes or opportunites [such as] the vocational experiences,” she said.
Lyda Astrove — a Rockville-based lawyer and special-education advocate working with Rock Terrace parents — said she thinks everybody at the school should support Lertora.
Astrove said she hopes to see more outreach from Lertora to parents about her vision for the school’s future.
“I hope that she is able to heal the Rock Terrace community and make Rock Terrace the jewel of a vocational program that we know it can be,” she said.