August 16, 2010 MILTON –
Just days before students were expected back to school, parents and faculty at Birmingham Falls Elementary learned the school's principal, Ronald "Tracy" Trussell had been fired for "inappropriate behavior and comments" in violation of state and federal laws. More details are sorely lacking.
Parents and teachers were given little information about the alleged behavior during two meetings held last Thursday at the school. However Area Superintendent Sam Taylor read a statement, prepared by the Fulton School's attorney, which stated: "This matter does not involve the misuse of taxpayers' dollars. It is not related to any criminal activity that the district is aware of. It does not involve children and it is not a result of any parent complaints."Taylor said the charges levied against Trussell focused on "behavior and comments, many of which place the school system in legal jeopardy… [And] are a direct violation of Title VII, which are issues that deal with age, gender and race."Trussell has admitted to the violations of policy, Taylor said. And he noted the matter has been referred to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) which provides certification for educators. When pressed for further details, Taylor gave none, suggesting individuals file an Open Records request for information. However, an Open Records request filed by Appen Newspapers last Tuesday had yet to be responded to by deadline on Friday.
In the interim, veteran principal Cathy Barlow will take Trussell's place at Birmingham Falls, committing to a 90-day stay while a new principal is selected. Taylor explained the search will include input from parents through a survey of what they want in a leader, and will involve an interview panel composed of teachers, parents and administrators. No time frame was given for when a new principal would be in place. Many parents in the audience Thursday night expressed their concerns that the pool of available applicants would be slim, given the start of the new school year.
Taylor, along with School Board representative Katie Reeves assured parents there would be no effect on the quality of education at the school during the change in leadership. In addition to a new principal, Birmingham Falls will start the school year with a new assistant principal. Former assistant principal Lynn Johnston's request for a transfer was granted and has been assigned to Mimosa Elementary School."The fact that all of you are here and you care will help your kids through this transition," said Reeves. "These are wonderful teachers and your kids will be fine. The eyes of the entire system are on this community and this school to make sure the focus is on [education]."Trussell opened the brand new Birmingham Falls Elementary school last year after spending more than a decade at Creek View Elementary School in Alpharetta. His success at that school, both academically and in parent support, factored into the school system's decision to tap him as the inaugural principal at the new school in Milton.