Reagan Middle School Principal Reassigned to School Division HR Department

| April 27, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Principal Alfie Turner of Reagan Middle School speaks at the March 7 School Board meeting.

Associate Superintendent of Prince William Middle Schools Bill Bixby sent an action letter to Ronald Reagan Middle School parents and teachers, Friday. The letter communicated that Reagan Principal Alfie Tuner, who was under fire by teachers and parents at that school, has been reassigned to the school division’s HR department.

According to the letter, the superintendent commissioned an extensive review of the school conducted by an experienced outside consultant. “Now completed, that review confirms the need to address what the consultant described as ‘a school divided.’”

Those finding have been reviewed by the school division administration and the school board. According to the letter, 89 staff members participated in interviews. All staff members were invited and there was 69% participation rate.

The letter alleges that strain was placed on the administrators at RRMS by “a relatively small group of discontented faculty members who resisted changes in management and accountability measures…none of these teachers had initiated a formal complaint against the principal under the procedures used by the Division to investigate and resolve employee performance issues.”

The consultant did acknowledge many faculty members said they were afraid of retribution. However, the letter goes on to say that the administration, superintendent and school board were disturbed that the concerned parties created “a media frenzy” as a means to express their concerns.

The letter announces that the principal will not be returning to the school in September, because of the environment created by her staff at RRMS.

“A very public and negative campaign made it impossible for her to succeed as a school principal in the immediate future. Instead, she will serve as a Principal on Special Assignment in Human Resources, devoting her experience and talents to critical staffing issues.”

However, transfers will be granted to those who requested them.”We are confident that this will help staff morale, and allow retention of excellent teachers and staff who are committed to school and student success, teamwork, and positive community engagement. “

Teachers who worked with Turner at several schools alleged she created a toxic work environment, which led to high levels of staff turnover. Former staff members said they were told to be silent, asked change grades and evaluations, were humiliated in front of peers and generally felt bullied. This environment led many to transfer, some to leave the school division, and others to even leave the profession. Some experienced health problems as a result of the incident.

Dr. Simon King, who worked as assistant principal at Potomac Middle School in 2013, said the bullying was not about race. As an African American man, he said he was bullied by Turner as well, which led him to seek work outside of PWCS.

PWCS employees told the school board they had similar concerns about Turner when she was their principal at Potomac Middle School and Coles Elementary School, as far back as 2006. Former employees were the most vocal, but current employees did attend school board meetings in solidarity. Others read letters on their behalf include leaders of the Prince William Education Association.

Parents often supported Reagan teachers, saying they were wonderful teachers who they would not want to see leave. Parents also had concerns that special education issues were not being handled properly by the school. However, other parents said they have had only pleasant and productive meetings with the principal.

The letter does not touch upon any misdeeds that the principal may have or have not done.

Community members that have been instrumental in calling for the principal’s termination, are dismayed and are already organizing a rally at the next school board meeting.

They say that the HR Department is the wrong place for a woman who has been herself part of staffing issues.

Brandie Provenzano whose son attends RRMS submitted this statement:

As a parent of a Reagan Middle School student I cannot believe the letter that was released today. There are factual errors in the letter, including the idea that teachers are transferring because of a “school divided.” The school was not divided by the teachers, it was divided by the work environment created by their principal. The letter also fails to address the multitude of accounts of bullying and harassment that were brought against Mrs. Turner at her previous schools and why those were never investigated. Finally, placing her in a Human Resources job is clearly an attempt by the county to send a signal to any teacher who ever speaks up. Mrs. Turner will now be in the position to continue bullying and harassment of teachers, only now she will be in a higher position of power to do so.”

Teachers are currently in contact with the PWEA to see if the association will be supported in further action.

UPDATE: April 28, 2018: Ms. Provenzano informed us that there will be a “Stop Bullying Our Teachers,” and “We Stand With the Teachers” Kelly Leadership Center, Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. before the start of the school board meeting. “Bring signs,” she said.

Bristow Beat hopes to speak with more community members in the coming days and investigate further.

Action Letter Page 1

Action Letter Page 2

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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