Bomb Threat on DCA Flight — There were some tense moments at Reagan National Airport yesterday after a flight from Dayton, Ohio was sequestered and searched for explosives. Nothing was found, however. An individual who made a bomb threat at the Dayton airport ticket counter was taken into custody, the FBI said. [Bloomberg]
New Principals Named — Arlington Public Schools have named two new principals. Kenwyn Schaffner has been named the principal of Jamestown Elementary School and Bridget Loft has been named the principal of Swanson Middle School. “Ms. Loft was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation when she was introduced to the Swanson staff after the announcement of appointment,” an insider tells us. [Arlington Public Schools]
Rousselot Endorses Areizaga-Soto — Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot has endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto in his primary battle against Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola for state Senate. [JaimeForSenate.com]
ART Drivers File Human Rights Complaint — Striking Arlington Transit bus drivers have filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission, claiming “ongoing sexual harassment from county contractor Forsythe Transportation.” [Washington Examiner]
Jogging With Grassley — Part-time Arlington resident Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently went jogging through his neighborhood with 15 young constituents who were in town for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. [ECT.coop]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
The brouhaha over the resignation of Williamsburg Middle School principal Kathy Francis continues.
Arlington Public Schools announced last night that it had approved the hiring of an outside legal counsel to
defend the school system against review allegations made by Francis, who sent a lengthy resignation letter to parents last week. In the letter, Francis accused superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy of “discrimination” and harassment.
APS also announced additional, temporary leadership changes at Williamsburg. Retired Wakefield High School principal Doris Jackson will work part-time as interim principal of the school, alongside Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Meg Tuccillo.
Assistant Principal Dr. Eileen Wentzel will delay her move to another position in order to stay on at Williamsburg through the end of the school year, the school system said.
“I want to thank the Williamsburg staff for the work they have been doing with our children,” Dr. Murphy said in a statement. “I especially appreciate the leadership of this team, particularly during the past week. Finally, I am grateful for the added help of Ms. Tuccillo and Ms. Jackson. I am confident that this team will work to ensure that the education and success of our students remain the primary focus for the school.”
The school will start the process of hiring a new principal “in the next several weeks.”
Correction at 12:45 p.m. — Ms. Francis was not escorted out of the building, as we reported earlier, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. Francis did show up at the school in the morning, with a television reporter in tow. When she left, she was not being escorted by an APS staffer, Bellavia said. Police were called to the school later in the afternoon to deal with an expected influx of news media, he added.
It didn’t take long for Williamsburg Middle School principal Kathleen Francis to be told she was no longer welcome at the school she led for more than a decade.
Francis sent a lengthy email to parents Tuesday night announcing her resignation and criticizing Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. The email was posted on this web site and quickly started garnering thousands of hits and hundreds of comments.
After she went to school on Wednesday, Francis was unceremoniously escorted from the building, according to a source. Police were on hand at the school to oversee security.
With Francis out of the picture, the school board sent a letter of their own to Williamsburg parents. The letter expresses the board’s support of Dr. Murphy, who joined the school system in 2009. It also revealed that Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Meg Tuccillo would be serving as acting principal at the school.
The letter concludes by inviting parents to attend a PTA meeting at the school on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Murphy and the chair and vice-chair of the school board are expected t0 attend the meeting.
Francis, meanwhile, is trying to adjust to her new reality. In an interview with the Washington Post, Francis talked about her decision to send the letter. The Post article noted that school staff have been dropping off flowers at Francis’ house, a gesture that brought her to tears.
See the school board’s letter to parents, after the jump.
Arlington Public Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is responding to a lengthy resignation letter sent to Williamsburg Middle School parents by the school’s principal. The letter, first reported by ARLnow.com, accused Dr. Murphy of harassment and discrimination.
Dr. Murphy’s letter to parents toned back some of the language used by the school system last night, when officials described the letter as “regrettable,” “unfortunate” and “very angry” in a statement to the Washington Post.
“We will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future,” Dr. Murphy wrote. “However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.”
APS School Talk – A Letter to the Williamsburg Community
February 2, 2011
Dear Williamsburg Parents:
By now we know that you have heard that Ms. Francis has chosen to resign her position as principal at Williamsburg Middle School. I want to assure you that the students, parents, staff and community have been and will remain my first priority during this period of transition.
While I understand that many parents may have questions, it has always been the practice of the Arlington Public Schools that we do not publicly discuss Personnel issues. Therefore, we will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future. However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.
At this time, we are exercising our responsibility to make sure that we provide the best educational learning environment for your student. Our primary focus is to take appropriate and immediate steps to put a highly qualified team of administrative leaders in place at the school to ensure that we provide the best instructional support and leadership for our students, their families and the school staff.
Please know that the students at Williamsburg and their well-being will remain our primary focus as we work to ensure that they receive a high quality education in a positive learning environment.
As this process evolves, we will involve the Williamsburg community and keep you apprised of our deliberations and decisions.
Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.
(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Williamsburg Middle School Principal Kathleen Francis says she will be resigning in March due to “the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent [Patrick] Murphy.”
In a lengthy email to parents, Francis detailed what she describes as a “long struggle” to resolve a personnel matter with Dr. Murphy. Francis said her efforts, which allegedly upset Dr. Murphy, resulted in “an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation.”
Francis defended her record and said she went so far as to file a discrimination complaint.
“The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints,” she said. “In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan.”
Francis concluded by insisting that she’s not alone in her displeasure with Dr. Murphy’s leadership.
“My situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident,” she wrote. “It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools.”
Dr. Murphy was appointed superintendent of Arlington Public Schools in April 2009. We are awaiting comment from the school system.
See the full letter after the jump.
Willmore is a recent graduate of University of Virginia’s Doctor of Education program. He began his career with Arlington Public Schools in 1995 and has served as assistant principal at Wakefield since 2002.
Willmore is fluent in Spanish and has taught abroad.
“Chris has been a fixture in the Wakefield community for eight years, and during the interview process, Wakefield students noted that Chris knows them, cares for them and wants them to succeed in the classroom,” superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a statement.
The school system’s press release, which includes three additional leadership announcements, after the jump.