‘Larry helped heal the district’: Departing Hamilton superintendent praised for work in divisive times

Though he is leaving early, officials are praising former Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp for stepping in to temporarily lead the district.

A review of school district public records by the Journal-News revealed Knapp’s short time as city schools’ leader, which began last April, and his earlier stint as business director for the Butler County district were marked by uniformly positive reviews of his work.

Knapp surprised many last week when he resigned earlier than had been contractually planned with new Superintendent Mike Holbrook originally scheduled to take over during the summer break prior to the 2019-2020 school year.

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Knapp’s personnel file and annual reviews contained no criticisms and ample praise from current and past school officials.

Hamilton Board of Education members have also praised Knapp, who is a veteran school administrator and past superintendent of Edgewood and Kings schools, for providing leadership in the wake of last year’s unexpected resignation of former school leader Tony Orr.

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“Larry helped heal the district and lead us through a difficult time,” said Hamilton Board of Education President Rob Weigel.

“Larry was willing to put his own personal retirement plans aside and step up when our school district needed him. I want to say how fortunate we were as a district to have a veteran educator of Larry’s caliber willing to take the job.”

Knapp’s personnel file contained a short resignation letter that provides no reason for his leaving the job.

And in a letter to district staffers, Knapp wrote: “Things have progressed well and maybe a little more quickly than originally presumed.

“After speaking with the Board of Education we are all in agreement the time has come for me to step aside and for Mike to take the helm.”

Knapp has not responded to requests to comment, but Weigel and other board members have said Knapp indicated to them he wanted to begin retirement after nearly four decades of working in public education.

New Hamilton Superintendent Mike Holbrook has already moved into Knapp’s old office and assuming the duties of running the 9,500-student district.

Weigel said Knapp “felt strongly that the time was right to retire and transition Michael Holbrook into the role of superintendent.”

“Just to show you the type of person he is, Larry is he is saving the district significant money by retiring early. Larry simply felt the time was right for Mike to take the helm and for him to catch up on some of those retirement plans,” he said.

Fellow school board member Tom Alf also praised Knapp, saying, “Larry saved our district and I think the world of him. He was there when we needed him.”

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