By: Lisa Johnson
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Powell County Board of education was held Tuesday, August 16, in the library of the Powell County Middle School. This meeting marked Sarah Wasson’s first meeting as superintendent and it was a lively one. Parents and students came with one questions on their minds, why did principal Wallace Bates resign?
Parent Jennifer Drake Thacker read a speech prepared by her daughter Senior Sophia Drake, Other community members Anthony Molihan, Lisa Billings, Monty Witkline, Jimmy Smith, and Ben Lifton all expressed concern. It is unclear as to why Principal Bates resigned, Board Member Mendal Tipton stated ”I am at a loss for words and have no answer at this time.”
PCHS Seniore Classman, Connor Todd had this to say, “In my three years at PCHS, the two things I’ve always wanted was student involvement and change. Change for our sports programs and change to better our school. Wallace Bates was the only person who not only met my wishes but exceeded them. At our first meeting together, he talked about all the things he wanted to do for our school. One of my favorites (congress) gave students a voice and the opportunity to change the things we wanted to within our school. With his help, we also created the pirates media team. This is how we have communicated with students before school even started and the results have been amazing. In the few short weeks I’ve worked with Mr. Bates, he has made such an impact on me.
The results of today have left me in shock and I have a question for our district administration, why do you not want change? Mr. Bates only wanted good things for our school and I fully believed in him to successfully change our school for the better. So why couldn’t you put your trust in him like we did?
Thank you Mr. Bates for everything. And to our district administration, losing Mr. Bates is not only a loss for the high school but a loss for the community and future.”
Superintendent Sarah Wasson released the following statement the next day on Facebook, “At last night’s Board meeting many topics came up during public comments that were related to the day to day operations of the district and were not business the Board can get involved in. This is not to say that our Board members cannot or should not hear your concerns, but the Board can never get involved with personnel issues and I cannot discuss specific personnel action either. In my opinion, the discussions that happened last night are not the most productive means to solving problems in our district. The school level administration should be the first line of assistance for most issues in the district. The principals and SBDM council make much of the school policies and procedures and can best answer your questions. As superintendent it is my responsibility to ensure resources are in place where needed, policy and procedure is followed, and the day to day operations of the district are carried out. I am attaching photo clips from the KSBA Leadership Guide explaining the main duties of the Board and the main duties of the Superintendent to help explain what I meant by saying much of the conversation was my responsibility to address and a Board meeting was not the best place to do so.
At the meeting, one gentleman asked how to get questions answered and I responded that my door is always open. To ensure I’m not already scheduled with someone, you might reach out ahead to schedule a time to meet with me but if I’m not with someone and you stop by I will be glad to have a conversation. I also mentioned that a Town Hall might be a good way to express group concerns and let more people give input and possible solutions at the same time. I was hoping to get a little more time of observation throughout the district before holding my first Town Hall so I could provide better answers, but after the meeting last night I think it is better to hold a Town Hall sooner than later.
If you are interested in attending our first Town Hall meeting and have a concern you would like addressed, please complete the form below so that we can choose the topics, prioritize the discussion, and be able to provide the most accurate responses at the meeting. We cannot change the past, so please focus on current concerns and areas that we need to improve as a district to make Powell County rise to the top. Monday of next week we will set up the date, time, and location of the meeting and will get information out to the public.