By Ashley Rader
Below is a copy of the email Elizabethton Director of Schools Ed Alexander sent to members of the school board to support his recommendation to not rehire Doug Mitchell as principal at West Side Elementary School.
By now, you have been made aware (maybe acutely so) of the recommendation to non-rehire Mr. Mitchell
(for next year) in the same role (as Principal). I certainly knew that this issue would be controversial from the
outset, but I felt it was only fair (and considerate) for Mr. Mitchell to be given time to pursue an administrative
position outside our System, ifhe desired to do so. It is my intention to meet with the West Side Faculty next
Wednesday (at 3:15 in the Library) and with those parents or other community folks ( at 6:30 in the gym on
Thursday) who desire to ask questions. I realize that some in the public might believe that this is a Board-driven
action, which it absolutely is not. Please refer any concerns/complaints directly to me!
Allow me to first clarify some aspects of this circumstance. First, Mr. Mitchell was not dismissed for next
year; he will not be re-hired in the same administrative role for this coming year. He is a tenured, certified
employee and will occupy a position as that , if he decides to stay in the System. I could have held this action
until school was out. (June 15 is now the deadline date for the School Board notification of personnel
changes.) I, however, (as I have stated) was trying to think ofMr. Mitchell’s chances to work on obtaining an
administrative job elsewhere, before all positions were promised or filled.
Now, please know that the problems/concerns I have are certainly not student-achievement related! The
instruction of our students at that location is a true sign of the solid work of the teachers at that school. I
personally met with Mr. Mitchell on the following dates this school year (for the specific purpose of evaluation
and discussion): 12/06/12, 1/06/13,2/05/13,2/20/13,3/01113,3/13/13 (for faculty survey completion), and
3/22/13. Even though public viewing of the specific state evaluation instruments is off-limits to public
viewing, Board Members can , of course, see them; and I encourage you to come in and see these and talk to me
about other concerns I am not including in this e-mail.
So that you might have an idea of the reasons for an action of this nature , please allow me to include a
general listing of some of the concerns (and problems I have encountered in past years and this year especially):
A) A clear lack of communication (for years) and cooperation with colleagues, Supervisors, and other System
staff folks ,
B) A failure to record (after multiple reminders and direction) discipline for a 4.5 years (allowing a lapse in
reports to the state) in the System software program,
C) A clear and consistent complaint from parents and g’parents about lack of accessibility when problems
D) A failure to be accessible (by phone) during inquiries from Supervisors and me (which needed immediate
E) A failure to address clear and repeated direction on personnel, building concerns, and homework over-kil l.
F) A complete failure to “get back to me” on numerous issues of real concern,
G) A failure to address (in writing in the System-provided ledger) issues that could become litigation
H) A failure to exhibit any desire to become an integral part of our Administrative Team.
Again, I ask that you view the evaluation documents and speak with me, should you wish additional
clarification. I also think that one way to get an immediate respon se to your questions about Mr. Mitchell is to
contact any school-site administrator (with whom you have a personal trust) or System Supervisor to get their
“take” on my recommendation. That is one sure way to determine ifmy action was prudent or arbitrary. I look
forward to hearing from you and certainly welcome you to the Thursday evening (at 6:30) meeting in the West
Side Gymnasium. I am indeed sorry that this issue may have caused you heartache, but personnel (and many of
its reperc ussions) are an important part ofmy duties; and if we are to get better, hard decisions must be made.