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Parents, Administration Spar Over Talahi Principal Turnover [AUDIO]

Superintendent Bruce Watkins and School Board Member Jerry VonKorf talk to Talahi parents. (Abby Faulkner)

ST. CLOUD – An emotionally-charged Monday night at Talahi Community School, as parents and teachers demanded to understand the reasons behind Principal Paula Foley reassignment to Westwood Elementary School, after only one year in the school.

Carol Potter, assistant principal of Tech High School, has been appointed as interim principal for the 2012-2013 school year.

At the beginning of the two-hour open forum with Superintendent Bruce Watkins and Talahi board liaison Jerry VonKorf, one attendee shared a parent’s letter accusing the board of making an “irresponsible and punative decision.”

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For the last 5 years, we’ve seen too many principals at Talahi…Our children deserve stability. They deserve Ms. Foley. Why are we going to fix something that’s working for us?

Corey Applegate, PTA president and father of two Talahi students, seconded the sentiment and praised Foley’s year of leadership within the racially and economically diverse school.

Most people see Talahi as an inner-city school, set to fail. But Talahi is not a quiet voice. We will stand up and fight for our children’s education. And Principal Foley was an icon to every student in here. She was the first to come in here and know the children and families by name.

While Watkins confirmed parents’ assertion that Foley did not choose to leave her post at Talahi, he defended the board’s decision by explaining when principals retire or resign, it creates a domino effect of administrative reappointment – and tough decisions need to be made.

Every year, we have retirements, resignations and leaves of absence within the principals’ ranks, and we’re very lucky that we’ve got a large group of extremely qualified principals to select from.

Watkins maintains the success of Talahi is a very high priority, and the school is set to receive the most money per student of any school within District 742 for the upcoming school year.

Watkins says the district will arrange for a meet-and-greet between parents, staff and Principal Potter later this summer.

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