Friday, December 18, 2015

Sexson removed as East Middle School principal

Joplin R-8 Executive Director of Secondary Instruction Jason Cravens told East Middle School teachers this morning that Bud Sexson is no longer their principal.

Cravens said that former North Middle School Principal Barbara Cox will step in for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year.

The years under Sexson, who took over as principal at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year following the removal of long-time Principal Ron Mitchell, have been bleak ones at East, which has seen the departure of nearly two-thirds of its faculty, including some of the school's top performing veteran teachers, some who retired earlier than they had planned, took jobs in other districts, or left without having any jobs lined up to get away from Sexson and the C. J. Huff Administration.

Test scores have also dropped each year as Sexson deemphasized discipline and encouraged a grading system that allowed the students to not bother doing a hefty percentage of their assignments

The Joplin NEA chapter documented complaints against Sexson and presented them to former Superintendent C. J. Huff during the 2013-2014 school year,

Concerns by East teachers about the lack of discipline, the forced implementation of standards-based grading, and a growing climate of fear in the building led the NEA chapter, following a meeting with more than two-thirds of East's teachers, to submit a resolution to Joplin R-8 Administration containing a list of concerns and suggestions for improving the situation..

The list was ignored by Huff.

Sexson's leadership, or lack thereof, continued to be a concern throughout the following school year and the first half of this year.

Sexson himself talked about the problems at East at the November 25, 2014, R-8 Board of Education meeting, as noted in a Turner Report post on that day:

Out of 34 teachers at East Middle School last year, 10 are no longer there, Principal Bud Sexson told the Joplin R-8 Board of Education a few moments ago, but it doesn't matter.

The 10 replacements "are the best group we've had," Sexson said.

Among those who left East following the 2013-2014 school year were a number of veteran teachers, including eighth grade science teacher Mike Wallace, seventh grade reading teacher Jennifer Wallace, eighth grade reading teacher Kim Frencken, sixth grade math teacher Brian Neugebauer, and special education teacher Bridgette Titus.

Sexson acknowledged that East's test scores were down significantly in math, something he blamed on having a first year teacher in eighth grade, a first year teacher in seventh grade, and a third year teacher in sixth grade.

It might take a while to bring those scores up, Sexson said, mentioning it could possibly take three years.

One problem East Middle School has had, Sexson said, has been a culture problem. "There are some personal issues that have gone on," he said, not explaining what those issues were. "We know our culture has taken a hit."

Sexson left the board befuddled with his explanation of the new approach East is using so that students take control over their own learning. They all must decide that "I know what I don't know and I know what I know."


Cravens told the East staff that Sexson is being reassigned to other duties in the district.

What Sexson did specifically to cause his departure is not clear, but what is clear is that Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder has begun the process of steering the Joplin R-8 School District in the right direction.

The first step was the recent reassignment of Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens, whose unseemly flirtation with Core Collaborative may have hastened the reassignment, but it was coming anyway because with only two years as a classroom teacher, she was clearly unqualified to handle curriculum and testing for a district the size of Joplin.

It also seems clear that Tuesday night's vote to allow Bright Futures Joplin to become an independent entity is a sign that BF will no longer be the overwhelming top priority it was during the Huff Administration and that it is likely to be handled (by the school, at least) in the same manner in which Bright Futures operates in other school districts.

Data that Ridder presented to the board Tuesday night provided a mandate for needed changes throughout the district, changes which could include some of the woefully underqualified people who were promoted to top administrative positions in the Huff Administration.

The naming of Barbara Cox as the interim principal should also send a message to the faculty at East. The dwindling few who have been at East (formerly South Middle School) for more than a decade remember Cox as an assistant principal under Ron Mitchell at South before she became principal at North and know her solid reputation as an educator.

(More to come)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have been battling these exact issues with East. I am so glad to have an answer... sort of. Hopefully things change. We were looking into moving out of East district. I hope this change is a good one.

My child went all semester with never doing one assignment. Then the last three weeks of school they tell said student they have to complete them all or go to ASD for 3 days the week AFTER grades are finalized and complete them all for no grade. No letter home- my child never told us. We found out because we got a progress report with actuals grades on it. (YAY for that change). We found out how to get on our childs canvas because I hadn't been able to see anything canvas for MS student because I was already signed in to HS student and both do not show up for me. Last year I did turn in Canvas paperwork for access for both students. Anyway by that time we had 2 weeks to finish all of his assignments.
No discipline for the entire semester? No letters home? No teacher communication? Just let me kid sit there and do nothing? I just don't understand that? Well I didn't until now.

Also, a big concern of ours is the fact that both EMS and JHS student do not see their graded homework. They get their grade but have no idea what they missed! Therefor, no idea of what concept they do not know. It is awful! The teachers responses are all the same: "Well, if the student asks for them we will show them". Are you kidding me? You expect my MS or HS student to come up to each teacher after each assignment is graded to be able to see what they missed? This is ridiculous.

I thought it was about the learning not the teaching.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Cox just became the best principal in Joplin.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for dim bulbs to shine enough light for something like a bright future is a fools errand.

Anonymous said...

Good call, and overdue.

Anonymous said...

Lucky East! Mrs. Cox is a strong administrator with classroom, counselor and principal experience.

Anonymous said...

Great news for east! Mr. Ridder is listening to the staff and parents at East. The atmosphere at East was dismal. It will improve greatly with Sexson gone, and Ms. Cox will be a great interim principal. Thank you, Mr. Ridder, for doing the right thing in getting rid of Sexson. What a shame the kids at East were so short-changed under Sexson's rule.

Anonymous said...

Is McKinley next???????

Anonymous said...

Also, a big concern of ours is the fact that both EMS and JHS student do not see their graded homework. They get their grade but have no idea what they missed! Therefor, no idea of what concept they do not know. It is awful! The teachers responses are all the same: "Well, if the student asks for them we will show them". Are you kidding me? You expect my MS or HS student to come up to each teacher after each assignment is graded to be able to see what they missed? This is ridiculous.

Wut....

I'd like to say that I have extreme difficultly believing the above, but I guess Huff and company have jaded me. This is gross educational malpractice ... and words just fail, but:

I thought it was about the learning not the teaching.

You were wrong. It's clear that in these two schools actual learning is very low on the list of priorities; as we've been told previously, that sort of focus would get in the way of Huff's obsession with graduation rates.

Well, at least Ridder has taken the first concrete step to fix things on the ground, as long as it's clear Cox really reports directly to him instead of the Huff holdouts.

Our host: what is clear is that Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder has begun the process of steering the Joplin R-8 School District in the right direction.

Well, there's the old caution that "First time is happenstance, second time is coincidence, third time is enemy action." But seeing as how two of the worst have been removed from their positions and presumably won't be causing any more damage, I think our host's conclusion is correct.

Anonymous said...

Now just get rid of that ass hat Jason Weaver!He thinks he is God's gift to the world. He is hateful to parents and students. He flat out lies about things that happen in that school. Clean house and start over!

ALANA MADDOCK said...

Hopefully he will be reassigned to a spot where he can not cause more damage. Anyone know where he's going? Too bad they can't just fire him now.

Anonymous said...

Great choice! I have worked with Mrs. Cox and she always puts the students and teachers first.

Anonymous said...

Now let's work on Weaver

Anonymous said...

How about the 8th graders iPads that can access porn and whatever else the kids can think of. There are no access blockers to stop all the joplin school kids from searching and watching whatever they want. That's the dumbest move from the dumbest school system in the 4state area! Parents check for yourself. How about the laptops in high school? Same thing? What a way to destroy our youth.

Anonymous said...

Interesting 6:32 have you had personal experience with this. Just an fyi when an IPad or laptop hooks up to school wifi it checks the computer for viruses and runs a check on where the computer has been on the net. Now if a student has decided to use a wifi Hotspot let's say his phone in his pocket isn't that the choice of the student. Students should be held responsible for their own actions. Don't blame the tool blame the hand that runs the tool.

Anonymous said...

5:28 Yes, I have had personal experience with said subject. And, are you kidding me...Bs in so may ways from R-8. Kids in the 8th grade haven't fully developed their reasoning skills. Their curiosity will get the best of them. And, I did a test on my child's ipad back in September...no check and no word from the school.
How was the high school kids able to use their laptops for so long to send naked photos, sexting?
The Webb City school district has internet blockers on the devices they issue to their students. Why not R-8? Oh ya, these kids can have self control at 12 and 13.
You want to see what the kids see when they get curious? Search sex...search porn.
All the money the R-8 got d/t the tornado and they cant protect the students with a internet blocker program on those devices. So sad in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

High school they used there phones and personal computer at home.....not school computer. That was reported on here and in the Joplin Globe. Should never have been a school issue.....Should have (if it wasn't) turn over to the Joplin PD once the school discovered it. BTW Webb city has had similar problems. Just curious do you have blockers on your personal device including your phones? More of this stuff happens on phones then any other device.....please tell me your for leaving phones at home and not bringing them to school.

Anonymous said...

So true

Anonymous said...

Yep

Anonymous said...

I was so glad when they went back to using letter grades on report cards. The system they were "testing" made no sense. I want my children to behave in class, but isn't the priority to know if they are learning and turning in assignments? I never knew where they stood in class, it was hugely frustrating. It was really a shame that Neugebauer left, my son liked him as a teacher.
I'm a little surprised to see the comments on Jason Weaver, I've had interactions with him and he's always been pleasant to deal with. I do think his interest lies in protecting the school; I took a complaint about a bus driver to him, on the advice of a teacher, and it was treated as a "misunderstanding", but I don't know that the driver wasn't disciplined for his behavior. Sometimes, very good people are put in the difficult situation of working under very bad direction/supervision and take a lot of blame for it. I suspect this may turn out to be the case with Jason.
As for the iPad... the onus is on the PARENT to moderate their child's behavior on the internet. My son has a school issued iPad, we discussed what he was not to be looking at; he knows he is not allowed to delete history; we regularly check what he's been doing to make sure he follows the rules. If he had a smart phone, the same rules would apply. You can not expect the school to perform what is YOUR due diligence.

Anonymous said...

The current assistant principal at East Middle School has been very difficult to deal with on more than one occasion. He could not discuss criteria for paraprofessionals in the classroom. His interactions with us have been rude and snide. An assistant in the incoming grade classroom is inconsistent and repeatedly rude to our child. The assistant principal and classroom assistant have ignored the professional input regarding our child's education. The current principal, Ms. Cox, has been a breath of fresh air. Our complaints and reports are being properly managed. Prayers for her, the remaining ethically and morally endowed teachers there, and most of all, for our children in that environment.

Anonymous said...

Is the students getting sick from the cafeteria food, my child said many kids were throwing up for the past few days after lunch.