The recent shift in principals at three different Burton School District schools has done more than just “shake up” the staff. It also has those at the schools questioning as to why the moves were made.
The shifts in leadership occurred at Oak Grove Elementary, where Troy Hayes, the former principal of the elementary school, was moved to act as principal at Summit Charter Academy Lombardi. Lori Phillips has taken Hayes's seat as principal at Oak Grove, and Stacie Fleischman now sits as the vice principal at Burton Elementary School. Fleischman was previously the principal at Summit Lombardi
Superintendent Sergio Mendoza released a statement on Tuesday saying the changes in the administration staff “will give the new principals an opportunity to work with the current staff
and understand the culture and community of the school they will oversee.” He also stated it will give the staff the chance to meet and acquaint themselves with students and parents before the next school year starts. In the statement, Mendoza also said “we will always strive for excellence in student achievement and providing a safe environment for our students each day.”
The district released an additional statement on Thursday. The statement read, “We recognize our parents may have questions and concerns about the recent administration changes. Due to employee privacy rights, we are unable to disclose any specific information.”
But parents and others have expressed concern, reporting they received an email from the district announcing the administration changes just days before their children returned to school from Christmas vacation on Tuesday. The changes have even sparked a movement at Oak Grove Elementary, who are now petitioning for the return of Hayes to the elementary school.
Jennifer Hunter, who started the petition, is looking for 100 signatures of support. The petition, titled “Bring back the "Hayes" to Oak Grove. Bring Transparent and Unity to Burton District,” can be found online through Change.org. The petition reads as follows, “Burton School District has currently failed their elementary schools. They decided, during winter break, to promote one vice principal to principal, one was demoted from principal to vice principal, and to move another principal to a different school. This information was relayed just days before students were expected back to school, leaving parents, students, teachers, and members of the Burton School community confused and angered. No reason was given to why the switch happened. The three administrators had no say in the decision, no way to refuse, and are now stuck in positions they do not want.
“The District asks for parents to disclose everything. At the beginning of the year paper work is sent with our students asking for the parents income, family size, race, health records, highest level of parent education, and more. We must stay up-to-date with shots, physicals, and take our children to school on-time and everyday. If we don't, the district asks us why our student was not there and requires proof.
“However, the Burton School District has shown no transparency when relaying information as of why this switch up came in the middle of our school year with little to almost no warning. They are supposed to teach our students about unity, community, and a sense of belonging. However, with the district's poor decisions, these concepts are becoming hard to see and explain to our students. We want answers! We want our Principals back! Bring back Mr. Troy Hayes to Oak Grove Elementary, as well as the other two principles involved. Let the district hear our voice by signing this petition.”
"It's a big old mess. We want Mr. Hayes back," said Jean Rowland who has a great grandchild in sixth grade at Oak Grove and another in eighth grade who previously attended Oak Grove. "Everybody loves Mr. Hayes. He's here for everyone, I don't care who you are.
"They do not like what he did," said Rowland about superintendent Mendoza's action to shift around principals. "There's no reason why he did what he did. This is not right what he did. This has devastated Oak Grove School. He just devastated so many people."
It's expected a large group of concerned citizens will attend the Burton School District Board meeting on January 21 to address Hayes' transfer. The meeting will be held at the district's board room, 264 N. Westwood, beginning at 5:45 p.m.