School board takes heat for Eagle-Vail principal transfer | VailDaily.com

School board takes heat for Eagle-Vail principal transfer

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Eagle-Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Some parents of Meadow Mountain Elementary students were shocked when they got a letter last week telling them the school’s principal was being transferred out of her administrative role.

Several parents went to Wednesday’s school board meeting to find out what happened and also tell board members why parents weren’t happy with the way they handled the situation. Parents say they received a vague letter and that board members or the school district staff never planned to communicate anything beyond the letter.

“It was a shock, but I sort of wonder how would they have done it without shocking the parents,” said Leah Mayer, a parent. “They know they could have handled it better.”

Most school board members agreed, although the board voted 4-3 to uphold the decision to transfer Principal Kathy Cummings “out of her administrative role.” Most members also apologized to parents about the way the transfer was handled.

“This was not handled the way it should have been, on any level,” said board member Brian Nolan, who represents the Eagle-Vail district.

Jason Glass, the school district’s Human Resources director, said Cummings is not being fired, but merely transferred to a different position “where we think she will do even better.”

“Kathy is a valued and dedicated long-term employee,” he said.

Some parents came to the meeting to let the school board know that this isn’t the first time there’s been a lack of communication ” parents have heard rumors for years that Meadow Mountain Elementary is closing its doors, said Tracy Walters, a parent.

“We’ve been fighting to get people to understand Meadow Mountain is still there,” he said. “We were trying to get the board to understand they really need to improve their communication to the parents and the community.”

Walters said that while he’s sure the decision the board made was “probably a good decision,” he was more concerned about its lack of communication.

Glass wouldn’t comment on specifically why Cummings was transferred out of her principal role, but said the evaluation process for principals is “comprehensive.”

Glass said principals are evaluated throughout the school year on things like job knowledge, dependability, reliability, performance based on their job descriptions and staff surveys. They’re also evaluated on student achievement, such as improvements or declines in test scores, and their relationships and interactions with staff members, students, the district and the community.

“Legally and procedurally from the (human resources) end, the evaluation process was followed appropriately,” Glass said. “I think concerns came around with the timing of when the information was released.”

He said finalizing the transfer was urgent so the school board could find a new principal for the school in time for the next school year. Waiting would give the district a smaller pool of qualified candidates, he said.

“We didn’t want to do it over the summer and make the community feel like we were doing it behind their backs,” Glass said.

Parents like Walters and Mayer said they like Cummings and aren’t really sure why she’s being transferred. They are concerned about finding a new principal that will be up to speed with the school’s two-year-old expeditionary learning program, where teachers lead “learning expeditions in their classrooms,” according to the school’s Web site. The curriculum is something parents are excited about and they want to make sure it doesn’t fade away.

“We all love it,” Mayer said.

Glass and Matt Earle, a school district spokesman, said whomever the district hires as the new principal will continue expanding the curriculum. School board members also told parents at the meeting that they support Meadow Mountain Elementary and have no plans to close it, although questions about moving it to another location are still up in the air.

“I support Meadow Mountain as a school,” said board member Jeanne McQueeney. “I want it to be one of our stellar schools.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com


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