Ousted principal at high school in Taylor fights proposed termination


Highlights

Former Legacy Early College High Principal Rosemary Kelly said her ouster is related to a student’s threat.

The Taylor school board declined to say why it has proposed the termination of Kelly’s contract.

A former high school principal in Taylor is fighting for her job after the school board replaced her and proposed to terminate her contract.

Rosemary Kelly, the former principal of Legacy Early College High School, said she thinks “voicing” her concerns to officials about a student who returned to school after making a terroristic threat prompted the board’s decision May 21.

“I said I didn’t think it was in the best interests of the child to come back on the campus,” Kelly said. “Students were struggling with it, and parents were very worried about the impact of the student returning. I voiced my concerns as to what that would look like and what that would entail and how students would be kept safe.”

The Taylor school district has appointed Ron Roth as the new principal at Legacy. He was the principal at the Taylor Opportunity Center, an alternative school for students with disciplinary issues. The Taylor school board declined to comment about the proposed termination.

“All decisions made by the Board of Trustees are calculated to best serve the interests of all students, parents, staff and community,” the school board said in a news release. “The decision to propose the termination of anyone’s contract presents no exception, particularly if it involves students.”

It also said that “in an age where many complain of the loss of privacy, Taylor ISD will not share private and confidential information even when attacked.”

Legacy Early College High School, where students are eligible to earn two-year associate college degrees before they graduate, has about 200 students.

READ: Taylor and Hutto students get chance to earn college associate degrees in high school

Kelly is appealing the board’s decision, asking the Texas Education Agency for a hearing with an independent examiner, said her lawyer, Lindsay Gustafson. If the examiner determines the school board did not have good cause to propose Kelley’s termination, Gustafson said, she could get her job back or be assigned as a principal elsewhere in the district.

On Feb. 20, Taylor police arrested a student who called the Police Department and “made threats against the lives of everyone in school,” Cmdr. Joseph Branson said.

“Officers arrived at the campus and found the student, who told police that the plan was to obtain a knife from a friend and use it to kill everyone at the school,” Branson said.

The student, whose name was not released because the student was a juvenile, was charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, he said.

Kelly, who had been the principal at the school since 2013, said the student who made the threat returned to school several weeks later. Usually when a student makes a terroristic threat, she said, the student is sent to an alternative school, but there can be extenuating circumstances.

She said she could not discuss the extenuating circumstances in this case.

Kelly said she signed a new contract in March renewing her job for the next year but then received a letter from the district in late April saying she had been put on leave.

She said the letter did not say why she was put on leave, but she was informed later of several allegations against her, including that she had violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, allowed a student to violate the dress code when the student came to school with orange hair, and failed to follow proper procedure when she attended a professional meeting off-campus.

Gustafson said she doesn’t think the allegations Kelly was informed of are related to why officials want to fire her.

“I think they have a laundry list of minor infractions they are using,” Gustafson said. “I think it actually has to do with potential litigation the district is trying to protect themselves from and Kelly is the target.”

Several parents, including Vanessa Cruz, said they are upset about Kelly’s removal as principal.

“To me, it’s a slap in the face for the school district to pull her off the campus she’s built,” said Cruz, who had two children attending the school this year. She said she also was worried about the student who made the terroristic threat “snapping” and being put “right back into the situation” that caused the student to be upset.

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