Reagan Principal Defends Her Leadership at PWCS Board Meeting

| March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

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

Alfie Turner, Principal of Ronald Reagan Middle School in Haymarket, defended herself during Citizens’ Time, Wednesday night, during a controversial and very packed Prince William School Board meeting.

Turner has been under fire as Reagan parents rallied to support their teachers. Teachers say their principal created a toxic work environment, leaving many to seek employment elsewhere.

Teachers say she denied students some special education services, falsified data such as teacher evaluations and asked teachers to change grades.

A group of teachers repeatedly used the term “bullying” to describe their interactions with Turner.

Ms. Turner finally got her say, speaking to the board and the larger community. However, behind her sat dozens of Reagan teachers and their supporter in the extended boardroom, forming a sea of blue t-shirts. One teacher said 27 Reagan teachers had attended.

In her three-minute speech, Turner said she had to “sit back and take this public flogging with little to no time to respond appropriately as I was with my mother in her final days,” and that this has been the worst period of her life.

“I was selected,” she said of her leadership career with Prince William County Schools. “I was never moved or reassigned to another school,” but rose to positions to which she aspired.

It is an insult that I have been accused of gaining her position based on my race and personal connections rather than through merit, she said.

She claimed to have been bullied by her staff, and said students have been hurt in the process: “For the students to be subjected to this insidious process is shameful.”

When her speech ended, some audience members booed.

Her husband Eric Turner followed after her to the podium. He spoke to “the defaming of my wife’s character” in social and news media as she has “come under attack by a few parents and teachers.”

He asked that the bullying stop, saying she had been verbally accosted online and in public forums “in a downright inhuman way,” which included “disrespect, hate, and threats.”

He also said there has been a spread of “unfounded accusations,” sometimes by people “who have never even had contact with my wife…The level of inappropriateness and cruelty towards my wife has been very shocking.”

When the Turners had finished speaking, Associate Superintendent Bill Bixby escorted them to the door.

One Reagan teachers who wanted to remain anonymous responded to her speech, saying it was “disingenuous.”

“It didn’t address any of the issues as real. They are real,” she said. “She played the victim and she is not the victim in this. This is what she does.”

Turner is back to PWCS but is not in the building as she is being investigated by a third party. PWCS has brought in a second interim retired principal to lead Reagan Middle School.

However, according to several Reagan teachers, Turner and Bixby visited the school Wednesday.

“The irony is our biggest complaint is that intimidation and the bullying, and yet she showed up at our school for a surprise meeting,” said the teacher.

She and her colleagues said they doubt Turner was threatened as everyone had tried to “keep this civil,” and that it is not personal, it’s about their careers and the students.

“It’s her leadership, not her character. It’s what she does. She is a leader of people.”

While many Reagan teachers were afraid to speak publicly, former teachers who worked with Turner have shared their experiences.

One woman said she worked with Turner at Potomac Middle School around 2013. Each year, approximately 1/3 of the staff left, until hardly any of the original staff remained.

During her time at Potomac Middle School, she wrote a letter to Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts, requesting a transfer and detailing about she had experienced at Potomac. She said the letter includes “the same exact things that the Reagan teachers wrote.”

“Please stop moving principals who do not make the grade,” she asked Walts and the School Board. The audience responded with roaring applause.

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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