RICHMOND, Mo. — Allegations in Richmond are swirling around an administrator at Richmond High School. A report in the Richmond Daily News quotes two teachers at Richmond High School, one of whom left the district early this year, who allege that Principal John Parker has fostered a difficult environment for working and learning.
The teachers said that Mr. Parker has enjoyed the support of Dr. Mike Aytes, Superintendent of the Richmond R-XVI School District. KMZU’s Brian Lock was able to chat with Dr. Ayres about the accusations and overall environment at Richmond High School. Click below to hear the full interview, which aired Thursday on KMZU.
The two female teachers alleged that Mr. Parker uses intimidation and fear as a means of controlling staff members, with the support of Dr. Aytes. Parker was hired by the district as principal in 2011.
As a result, the teachers allege, many teachers and staff members have left the district. It is also alleged that the ham-fisted tactics employed by Mr. Parker have resulted in a decline in the quality of education at at the school, a claim Dr. Aytes disputed.
The report in the Daily News alleged that a grievance has been filed against Mr. Parker, but Aytes said the issue is not a public matter and would not comment on the specifics of the allegations.
“I will not comment directly on any kind of a formal grievance, in fact, I can neither confirm nor deny if a grievance has been filed,” Dr. Aytes said. “But I can comment on the environment at Richmond High School. I would say it is quite the opposite of the hyperbole that’s been put out there.”
Aytes pointed out that during Mr. Parker’s tenure at Richmond High School, EOC (End-of-Course Exam) scores have gone up, ACT (American College Testing) test scores have improved and, Aytes said, he has recent staff surveys from the high school showing that teachers are supportive of the environment at Richmond High School and enjoy working there.
“The learning environment at Richmond High School is very good,” Aytes went on to say. “The teaching faculty at Richmond High School is exceptional. We have a lot of very good, dedicated people who take their jobs seriously. They relate to kids well, and I see good interaction between Mr. Parker and the students, between Mr. Parker and the teachers. It’s totally different than what’s being portrayed at this time.”
Dr. Aytes reaffirmed he would not comment on the nature of the allegations, or why the allegations have been made if the environment at the school is as healthy as he claimed.
“You’re beginning to venture into an area that I cannot comment about. There are some things that have been discussed in closed session. I’ve not been included in some of those closed sessions, but certainly things that are discussed in closed session are closed. They’re confidential and I am prohibited by board policy to speaking towards all of those things.”
Dr. Aytes, while expressing support for teachers at the school, seemed to offer a caveat to that support.
“In every organization, there are some people who are resistant to change. They don’t necessarily buy-in to particularly increased rigor, or increased alignment with state standards, or being directed to do certain kinds of things that administratively we might feel are important to the organization. Unfortunately, in some respects, fortunately in others, we don’t have the luxury of ‘cleaning out the locker room.’ We deal with the people who are on staff, we try to make the best use of their talents for students. But . . . you’re never going to be able to please everyone.”
The turnover rate for teachers at Richmond High School, according to Dr. Aytes, is normal.
“It’s true we have a number of staff members at all levels that come here to teach and move on, that’s the nature of teaching,” Aytes continued. “Many of those don’t live in the community, and live in the metro area, and they find a job closer to home. . . There are many, many, many reasons as to why teachers choose to move to another school.”
The allegations against Parker, however, have not jaded Aytes’ judgement of the top administrator at Richmond High School.
“I have absolute, full confidence in John Parker,” Dr. Aytes declared. “My confidence in Mr. Parker is based primarily on the the litany of all the improvements that have been, both physically and educationally in the building, with students, with staff. I believe [it’s] a very good environment and I credit [Mr. Parker] for 90% of the changes that have been made, and those are positive.”
KMZU News has verified reports from past students at Richmond High School saying that the allegations, in their view, have an air of truth to them. A teacher or staff member from Richmond High School, however, was not immediately available for comment.
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