PWEA Board Asks Principal Not to Return to Reagan Middle School During Investigation

| March 5, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Crest of Ronald Reagan Middle School

The Prince William Education Association [PWEA] Board of Directors sent a letter to Prince William County Schools Chairman Ryan Sawyers and Superintendent, Dr. Steven Walts, March 4, regarding a personnel investigation of the principal of Ronald Reagan Middle School in Haymarket.

The letter concerns the human resources investigation of RRMS principal in response to her staff’s accusation of teacher bullying and teachers being told not following protocol for providing required special education accommodations.

The Board of Directors issues a request for the principal to not return to the school, and for those educators participating in interviews relevant to a human resources investigation to be granted anonymity.

The letter follows a Ronald Reagan Middle School meeting of parents and teachers, and attended by the PWEA where interested parties considered a Class Action Lawsuit be brought against the school division.

The letter reveals some of the steps the division has taken thus far to facilitate a fair investigation of the allegations.

It states that the Board is “encouraged by the positive decisions that have been made so far to address the issue of workplace harassment by the current school administration,” such as the division’s decision to employ non-PWCS staff human resource officers to handle the investigation.

This is something that the teachers at Reagan felt was important so they would be treated fairly even though the administrators had closer relationships with those superiors and HR professionals. They also feared reprimand or retaliation by the principal or higher level staff, even though doing so would be against policy .

“Namely, we are enthusiastically hopeful that the impartial human resources officers, unconnected to the PWCS, will be objective in their investigation of the issue at hand,” stated the Board.

The PWEA also praised PWCS’s decision to examine the special education program at RRMS from a consultant also separate from the school division.

“Additionally we feel that the examination of RRMS’ special education program by a separate consultant is also a positive step. Thank you for this transparency and objectivity.”

However, PWEA took issue upon hearing that the principal may be returning to the school. The Board asked that she not return to the investigation has been concluded.

“Maintaining this standard protocol would make the ‘fair and equal treatment of all staff’ ring true, as well as maintain the integrity of the interviews from other influences, as problems of this scope and magnitude never exist in a vacuum.”

According to a letter posted on the RRMS webpage, Feb. 28, addressed to the school community, the schools principal would not be immediately returning. The letter says that Retired Principal Roger Dallek will arrive to support Assistant Principal Amy Alexander.

During the past few weeks, Retired Principal Gail Stone had been filling in for Ms. Alfie as she had time off for bereavement.

The PWEA Board also asks that if the principal does return at some point she not gain knowledge of which educators are witnesses in the investigation.

“At the very least, we would suggest holding the interviews at another, nearby school to maintain the probity of the discussions.”

Finally, the PWEA Board asks that the school division not only consider the current situation at RRMS, but concerns that have arisen at previous schools where the administrator previously worked within the district.

“As in the Federal Rules of Evidence, specifically Rule 406, “Evidence of  person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practices…”

“There has been a litany of concerns with this administrator, going back to the years at Coles Elementary, to Potomac Middle School and even up to grievances filed this last October. When such a mountain of evidence exists, it should be entered into the equation.”

The Board explained they are hopeful they can work with the school division moving towards mutual goals.

“We appreciate the efforts and energy the PWCS administration has brought to rectify this situation, and we look forward to continued conversations and collaboration in order to make all of our schools the best places to work, to educate our children, and to be proud of. Together we can make Prince William County Schools a true world-class education for all children.”

The school division and school board members cannot comment on personnel matters.

At the Gainesville School Board Town Hall, the principals husband told the parents how much his wife cared about the children and the school and to make sure not to listen to just one side of the story.

Update: Prince William County Schools spokesperson said the principal is back to work but not currently at Ronald Reagan Middle School.

“At this time, we do not have an answer as to when she may return to the building,” said Diana Gulotta, Director of Communications Services.

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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