Archive for Friday, March 16, 2007

High school prinicpal, assistant middle school principal resign

Board reverses earlier decision regarding AD, rehires Brandon Parker

March 16, 2007

Tonganoxie's high school principal Tatia Shelton and middle school assistant principal Darren Neas resigned Friday night.

At an emotionally charged school board meeting that Shelton and Neas did not attend, the board voted 6-0 to accept their resignations effective June 30.

In addition, board members put Shelton and Neas on administrative leave through the duration of their contracts, which expire June 30. The two will be paid through June 30.

In a phone interview after the board meeting, Shelton said it was time for her to leave.

"I just think, the situation as it was, just created a situation where I didn't feel like I would be able to effectively continue in this position," Shelton said. "For my family's sake I'm just ready to move on."

In an earlier interview with The (Tonganoxie) Mirror newspaper, Shelton said a high school administrator is a visible position and she often felt as if she had a target on her back. She also said earlier that she felt her personal life was being attacked.

However, Shelton said despite her resignation, she had no animosity toward the school district.

"I have a deep respect for the board of education and the Tonganoxie school district," said Shelton, who became principal in summer 2004.

During Shelton's tenure with the district, the high school's average ACT test scores rose from 21 to 23 and THS made steady gains on state assessment tests. She initiated programs, such as freshman orientation, senior projects and an academic eligibility policy for students involved in school-sponsored activities.

When reached after Friday's board meeting, Neas said he could not comment.

Neas has worked for the district since 1999 and became assistant principal at the middle school in 2001.

Board president Kay Smith issued this written statement, "Classroom teachers are the backbone of this district. Teachers have the ability to shut the classroom door and close out all the chaos. It is time to put closure on this situation and to turn the focus of this school back to the business of education."

Athletic director to remain

Also at Friday's meeting, the board, on a 4-2 vote, reversed a Feb. 21 decision that would have required the athletic director to have an administrator's license. Smith and Ron Moore voted against the motion, which was made by Darlyn Hansen.

Before voting, Smith said: "I believe it needs to be an administrative position."

What this action essentially did was make it possible for the school's current athletic director, Brandon Parker, to retain his job. Parker does not have an administrative license.

Immediately following this board action, Hansen made a motion to rehire Parker as the athletic director. Again, the vote was 4-2, with Smith and Moore voting no.

After the meeting, Parker, who has been athletic director since the start of the 2002-2003 school year, said he was pleased to hear he had been retained in the job.

"There's a lot of good things happening in Tonganoxie," Parker said. "We wanted to continue to be a part of it."

Moore said he voted against hiring Parker because he thought an administrator should hold the position.

"It's an issue of having a certified administrator and someone who has significant experience as athletic director," Moore said, "And if we had had that, perhaps some of the problems we've had with football and softball could have been avoided, had we handled this differently."

Parker, who did not attend the board meeting, declined to comment on the controversy with the softball department.

In other action, the board approved one-year contracts for Superintendent Richard Erickson, acting grade school principal Tammie George, middle school principal Steve Woolf and high school assistant principal Brent Smith.

Moore said Brent Smith would fill in as acting high school principal during the remainder of the school year. And he won't be the only acting principal in this district.

George, who is acting grade school principal, is filling in for former principal Jerry Daskoski, who resigned in December, when faced with the possibility of losing his license related to a 2005 Wichita shoplifting charge. Daskoski fulfilled his terms of a diversion agreement and was not convicted of a crime. However, the state board of education voted in January to revoke his administrator's license.

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