Saturday, October 03, 2015

Court documents: Joplin principal fired because he intimidated, bullied teachers

In what has to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, documents filed by the lawyer representing former Joplin R-8 administrators C. J. Huff and Angie Besendorfer claim that former Royal Heights Principal Larry Masters was removed from his position because he had "bullied" and "intimidated" teachers.

That allegation, of course, is the same one that the Turner Report and others have leveled against Huff and Besendorfer.

The accusations are included in Joplin attorney Karl Blanchard's motion for a summary judgment against Masters, who is suing Huff, Besendorfer, and former Assistant Superintendent Steve Doerr.

The documents also carefully distanced Huff and Besendorfer from the decision to remove Masters from his position, placing the responsibility for that decision on Doerr and former Curriculum Director Chris Templeton.

The motion raises more questions than it answers about Masters lost his position only a few days after he had been offered a contract to continue as principal for the 2010-2011 school year.

According to the documents, Doerr and Templeton began an investigation into Masters following "allegations about MAP testing improprieties," yet the documents make no mention of any information being discovered that would indicate this happened.

On the other hand, Masters, who was a tenured teacher, continued to teach in the school district for a few years following his removal as Royal Heights principal, before retiring, an unlikely occurrence if any evidence had been uncovered that would indicate cheating on MAP tests.

During the investigation, Doerr and Templeton discovered that Masters and a teacher were creating a "negative and intimidating" environment. The two interviewed every teacher in the building to reach their conclusions, according to the document.

Doerr indicated that Masters had been cited for problems during his prior evaluations and that Masters was not being singled out, since Doerr had been involved in the removal of two other principals for problems with the "general building environment."

If the judge doesn't buy those arguments, Blanchard says, the defendants are protected from being sued because of "official immunity."
Let Teachers Teach, a collection of Randy Turner's writings on education, is available locally at Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe, and The Book Guy in Joplin, Pat's Books in Carthage, and Cato's Connection in Joplin, and can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats from at the links below.


sarahannie said...

As a parent with students who attended Royal Heights, I have trouble believing there is any validity to the bullying claim. I never knew him to be anything but an encouraging , supportive principal. Why would they offer him another position within the district if he were a bully? Just more smile and mirrors from a dirty administration.

Anonymous said...


The old "I'm rubber you're glue" defense!

Anonymous said...

And of course, this was on the front page of the Globe--not!

Anonymous said...

And if this is true why keep Jennifer Doshier who I hear was a real bully and Bud Sexson who I know is a real bully.

Anonymous said...

As a former teacher at Royal Heights I know for a fact that Larry was not intimidating or a bully. He was very approachable and great to work with. If he was intimidating why was he placed at the Early Children Center to finish out that school year? Why would you put a bully with 3-4 year olds? It doesn't make sense!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:30pm. I never witnessed Mr. Masters being intimidating. My kids never had anything negative to say about him.

Anonymous said...

My kids went to Royal Heights while Mr. Masters was there. My kids enjoyed him and he was always approachable to any of our questions. There was never a sense of sort of tension in that school from parents or teachers. Perhaps an individual had a had conflict with him, if so, lets see proof of that. To call him a bully seems just another case of him being bullied.I have always wondered what happened there. My name is Kevin Beck and I would be available to speak of our time at Royal Heights.

Anonymous said...

Their attorney needs to be corrected. They did not interview everyone in the building. They did not interview 2 teachers who were on pregnancy leave. I would know, because I was one of the subs while this went on. The reading program Larry and his staff created was incredible. Teachers wanted in this building, not out.

Anonymous said...

There wasn't any evidence of anything improper happening with the MAP test. It was interesting that the scores dropped tremendously after he left.
There was an atmosphere of exclusiveness that could have been perceived as bullying.
Mr. Masters and his staff learned a great deal from the Arkansas Literacy Model. Besendorfer and company did not want to participate in something with someone else's name on it.

Anonymous said...

RH had a fantastic reading program. They made the AR model work. Bessy wanted him to change the name, from the AR model to the Joplin model, but he wouldn't do it.

What most people don't know is that he knew his test scores would be lower. He told several principals this early in the school year. I would know, because I was one of those principals.

Anonymous said...

Is that you Huff? Lol.