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KHS Community Stands Up for McGrath, Questions Resignation

Kirkwood High School parents and students showed their support for Senior Class Assistant Principal Cathy McGrath and called on the Kirkwood School Board to retain her as an educator.

Parents and students packed the Cafeteria Monday night to express their concern and skepticism about the resignation of Senior Class Assistant Principal Cathy McGrath.

During the public comment section of the regular meeting of the Kirkwood School Board, multiple students spoke about the positive impact McGrath has had on their lives and questioned why such an effective and beloved educator would suddenly leave her post.

McGrath’s resignation letter is dated Feb. 16. (See attached document.) Jeff Townsend, KHS athletics director, will replace McGrath next year as senior class principal.

“I believe that the forced resignation of Ms. McGrath is extremely unjust,” Will Haenni, Kirkwood student council president, told board members as he read from a written statement he submitted into the public record. “In her four years with the class of 2012, she has delivered superb results and developed strong relationships with all of her students. … She truly is the cream of the crop when it comes to being a principal.”

Haenni called on the board to make the right decision and keep McGrath in the . Like many in the audience, he donned a T-shirt that read, “We Support Ms. McGrath” above the word “Bullying” circled and marked out. The message behind the T-shirts was that McGrath was bullied out of the District.

“This was politically motivated, this was fear and intimidation,” Antona Brent Smith, one of the concerned parents who presented to the board, told Patch. “You don’t need to have this level of fear in Kirkwood and that’s wrong.”

The resignation came as a surprise to parents and a group approached Kirkwood Superintendent Tom Williams about the decision. The group included KHS parent Carolyn McClure who told Patch that Williams said there were certain aspects about the resignation he could not share with parents because it was a personnel matter.

After reviewing performance evaluations shared by McGrath, McClure and others sent out an email that encouraged parents and students to attend Monday’s meeting to show their support for McGrath and voice their concerns to the board.

Williams commended students for how they expressed their feelings and views Monday night.

“I think every board member and every administrator here respect that and listened with an open mind,” he said. He offered to follow up with anyone individually to discuss the matter further.

School board member John Glunt presented in defense of the District’s actions regarding McGrath’s resignation. The meeting was Glunt’s last as a member of the board.

“I believe strongly in the process this district goes through, and I want you to know that while you’ll never know all the details, I feel very, very comfortable with the process and I walk away tonight very comfortable with this decision,” he said.

Patch received the following statement on behalf of McGrath about Monday night's outpouring of support:

"I am overwhelmed by this response from students, parents and colleagues! I appreciate everyone's support and am blessed to work with such an awesome group of students and parents!"

Debbie Kuper April 03, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Cathy McGrath has not spoken because she does not want to take away anything from the senior class' last year which is yet another positive for Cathy. I just left a meeting with Dr. Williams. I had two issues to talk to him about. One being Cathy McGrath. I will tell you that on both topics, he did not directly answer even half of my questions. He skirted around the questions and put my questions back on me. Classic avoidance technique! One answer I did get was that " it's not my job to build morale at the high school". Is this who we really want running our district?
Diane Ashburner April 05, 2012 at 01:42 PM
It may not be Dr. Williams direct mandate, but the staff he has placed need to be morale builders, so, yes, morale is part of his job. Positive morale is what keeps high quality teachers wanting to come and remain teaching at a school. Positive morale is conducive to a highly productive learning environment, which trickles down from the top. Re: Chris--teachers don't come forward by name because although they may be protected somewhat by a union, retribution for an opinion not in line can make life miserable. Other staff don't even enjoy union protection. Bottom line is that Cathy McGrath seems to be the collateral damage for someone else's agenda and politics. She's been a motivated and effective mentor, educator and leader at the school, an excellent assistant principal. Currently, Asst. Principal McGrath is busy focusing all of her positive energies on her senior class (thank you!) Meanwhile, the school board still has the opportunity to step up and do the right thing by Asst. Principal McGrath.
Chris Doehring April 05, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Good luck God bless, 2nd time I've written a response that hasn't taken to this site and only so many minutes to the end of our lives.
DV April 06, 2012 at 02:15 PM
One thing the Board has not taken into consideration is that many students in the senior class can vote. If they could not vote this time they certainly will be able to next year. Many may have voted in Tuesday's election. I would not be surprised if we see a complete turnover of the current board after their terms following this debacle. Anyone find it interesting that Andy Stewart lost? Also, why in the world is there not a limit on the term they can serve. There is something wrong about having the same board member for 12 years.
Lynne Weis July 09, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I have just found this website but I will tell you for a fact that my husband and I did not vote for the incumbents for this reason.

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