Hundreds of parents are dismayed that Uintah Elementary's principal felt it necessary to resign amid ongoing staff conflicts at the Salt Lake City school.
About 250 parents gathered Monday at the school, 1571 E. 1300 South, many of whom voiced anger at the district and concern about the school's future and community healing when principal Barbara Green resigns in June.Green resigned and three teachers requested transfers when conflicts could not be resolved after 2 1/2 years, Salt Lake Teachers Association president Elaine Tzourtzouklis said in a telephone interview.
"This is the only thing that will help that school and the parents need to let go," Tzourtzouklis said. "We've all been working together to make this work and it hasn't."
Green, Uintah principal of three years, is praised for lifting community involvement to new heights. Nearly 95 percent of parents and 76 percent of staff members reported satisfaction with Green's leadership in a recent survey under the district's Eccles/Annenberg Challenge Grant for school reform.
Green could not be reached for comment Monday or early Tuesday. She did not attend the meeting.
Darline Robles, superintendent of Salt Lake School District, said she has spent 18 months interviewing and surveying each staff member to help pacify conflicts that she declined to identify, citing personnel confidentiality laws.
"I can spend time putting out fires or I can spend time with you building a community," Robles said. "I need you as a community to help us go forward."
Robles says the problems boil down to miscommunication, resulting in mistrust, misunderstandings and disrespect. She was joined by the Salt Lake Board of Education and district staff at the meeting, aimed at informing and fostering community understanding.
Her words seemed to pacify a few audience members. Some defended Uintah as historically equipped with a strong staff while others thanked Robles for extensive efforts to give the school a chance to work out its problems.
But the majority of parents addressing the group wanted the principal to stay. Former PTA president Jana Bennett has circulated a petition with more than 200 signatures to keep Barbara Green at the school she has led for three years. She says Robles should have stood by Green two years ago.
"I truly believe that would have solved the problem right then," Bennett said.
Parent Heather Barney attributed the resignation to the district's shared governance philosophy, in which educators and parents share responsibility of educating students through cooperation and goal setting. She says the system shirks responsibility and is unbalanced.
"How can any business or (agency) in the world solve a problem if no one's in charge?" she asked. "The parents have been completely left out of this."
But Robles said she wanted to let the school work out the problems. She also says hiring and firing is her responsibility - not the community's.
Derrick vowed the school board would meet to discuss the resignation. Robles says such personnel discussions are held behind closed doors.