McKinley Elementary Principal Terri Hart announced to staff members last week that she will resign effective at the end of the current school year. Hart's "resignation" was announced following her evaluation, which took place in January.
Hart, formerly the district's curriculum director, took the reins at McKinley for the 2013-2014 school year, following the disastrous tenure of current Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Doshier. Huff placed Hart in the position despite the fact that Hart was not certified to be a principal.
The story was told in the February 20, 2014, Turner Report:
When the 2013-2014 school year started, McKinley Elementary School faced numerous challenges.
The school had an almost entirely new faculty, many of them younger, inexperienced teachers, in need of a veteran guiding hand.
What Joplin R-8 Administration provided was Terri Hart...a principal who was not even certified to be a principal.
With all of the certified principals available, many of whom would love an opportunity to work in one of the largest school districts in southwest Missouri, no one ever explained why Ms. Hart, who had been working in Administration office at 32nd and Duquesne, was the best choice.
The fall semester was a rocky one at McKinley Elementary, but one thing changed when students returned for classes in January.
For the first time since last May, they had a certified principal. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) records indicate that Terri Hart was certified as a principal on December 18, 2013, four months after the school year began and a half year after she was named to the position.
The events that led to her becoming principal were detailed in the November 18, 2013, Turner Report:
Younger teachers were having a hard time dealing with Principal Jennifer Doshier's somewhat mercurial demands. They talked with a veteran teacher, who agreed they had reason to be concerned. The things she was hearing were serious enough that the veteran teacher called Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer, who suggested that the veteran teacher bring the younger teachers over to the administration building at 32nd and Duquesne to discuss the problems.
After the meeting started, the veteran teacher reassured Dr. Besendorfer that the teachers were not blowing the situation out of proportion.
Dr. Besendorfer offered a sympathetic ear, nodding as the teachers spoke, every once in a while commenting, "This is unbelievable," or "this should not be happening."
As the meeting closed, Dr. Besendorfer told the teachers not to worry. "I will take care of this."
As the veteran teacher and the younger ones left Dr. Besendorfer's office, for the first time in a long time they had a feeling that their jobs might just become a little more bearable.
Dr. Besendorfer, true to her word, took care of the situation. By the time her solution had been implemented, the younger teachers, none of whom had tenure, did not have their contracts renewed, and the veteran teacher, a woman well respected in the community, was escorted out of McKinley Elementary and placed on a paid leave of absence. Later, she was transferred to another job in the district. Probably the only thing that saved her position was that she had tenure and the district was already in the process of being embarrassed as it made efforts to fire another tenured teacher.
By the time, the year ended, nearly every teacher in McKinley Elementary had either been non-renewed or had resigned.
Angie Besendorfer did not forget about Principal Jennifer Doshier. Ms. Doshier was promoted to upper administration, in the recently created post of director of elementary education.
Meanwhile, Ms. Doshier's replacement, the principal who would have to deal with a completely new, highly inexperienced young faculty- is Terri Hart, who was moved from an upper administration ;position as curriculum coordinator...and who, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, does not have a principal's certificate.
Parents of McKinley Elementary students should not worry about having such an inexperienced principal at the helm- she won't be here for long. She has told some people that her plan is to get a job at Pittsburg State University and others that she hopes to become a superintendent at a small school.
The one thing she makes sure everyone knows- McKinley Elementary is just a steppingstone.
The departure of Hart follows the removal of East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson, who was pulled out of his position at the end of the first semester and given busy work at the high school until his contract runs out.
Former Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Testing Sarah Stevens was also reassigned and resigned effective at the end of the school year.
The R-8 Board of Education is expected to act on Hart's resignation during a 5:30 p.m. closed session Tuesday, February 23, at the Memorial Education Building.