With just months left, staff seeks resignation of Lagniappe interim principal

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The vice chairman of the governing board of the soon-to-close Lagniappe Academies charter school has sent home the acting principal for “a couple days,” after 20 teachers and staff signed a petition calling for her to resign.

The state last month decided not to renew the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school’s charter at the end of this academic year, saying the school failed in its duty to properly teach special-education students.

A one-page petition drafted by four staff members, and signed by 21, alleges acting Principal Alison McCormick was part of that problem. They say she failed to properly monitor and carry out special-education law even after a scathing report was issued by the state. Teacher Thomas Mickley-Doyle, who helped author the petition, said all but one full-time employee signed the document.

The teachers and staff “have lost faith in Ms. McCormick to lead the school honorably” and transparently during the shutdown process.

Reached by phone earlier today, McCormick said she planned to consult with Board Vice Chairman Dan Henderson before speaking about the matter.

McCormick is the acting school principal after CEO Kendall Petri and Chief Operating Officer Ninh Tran departed earlier this month. McCormick is named several times in the 167-page report, often alongside Petri.

Henderson said McCormick is taking time off after staff hand-delivered the petition to her yesterday.

“I met with Ms. McCormick yesterday and asked her to take a couple days off so we can maintain stability at the school and move forward,” Henderson said.

“It is reminiscent of a revolt by angry people, including teachers and parents who have spent five years implementing their passion to educate far-behind children,” Henderson said. “They’re losing [the object of] that passion and also see their job tenure coming to a halt and I personally, I feel that the board is in sympathy with their situation.

“This interruption is a distraction, but the staff and teachers feel so strongly that Ms. McCormick should resign that the board is going to, as soon as possible, meet to consider and deal with it,” he said.

The board has scheduled a meeting Wednesday night. The only item on the agenda is an executive session to address personnel issues.

According to one affidavit in the state’s report, McCormick instructed a staff member to “make up” test scores for three students. When the staff member refused McCormick said “I am your boss and telling you to do something.”

The affidavit states McCormick relented when the staff member said they would report the incident to the state, but that the students were pulled from that class for makeup testing.

In the past, RSD officials have said they do not have direct influence over the charter’s staffing decisions. District Deputy Chief of Staff Laura Hawkins said the options afforded to the RSD were to either renew or non-renew the school’s charter.

This story was updated to note that a board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday night. (April 1, 2015)

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