Bishop removed as Midland principal; replacement unknown

       Barbara Bishop has been removed as the Midland Elementary principal, and no replacement has been announced.
       Only scraps of information could be obtained on the matter this week. The Westside Pioneer did not learn until two days before publication that the District 11 Board of Education had voted on Bishop (without public discussion) at a meeting May 14. Then, just before the board meeting June 25, district staff withdrew the name of a suggested replacement (Libby Bailey, the current Ivywild principal).
       Board members did not discuss (at least not in public) how they will now proceed. Questions of district staff and a board member were unsuccessful in bringing forth answers on why Bailey's name was initially proposed when she is not IB-trained. The school is the district's only International Baccalaureate (IB) elementary school, and questions about its certification could arise without an IB-trained principal, according to past Midland parent/volunteer Pam Staley.
       “The key thing is get somebody in with an IB background,” commented Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) President Welling Clark, who had served six years ago on the Westside Task Force - the recommendations from which led to Midland becoming an IB “magnet” school in 2003. He noted that the neighborhood has not been consulted on the current situation so far, and he would like that to change.
       Similar comments came at the board meeting from longtime Westsider Dave Hughes, who instructed the board not to “dump on the Westside” in its handling of the Midland issue.
       Complicating the situation is the fact that Bishop is the wife of Dr. Terry Bishop, the District 11 superintendent. According to Tom Strand, vice president of the school board, Dr. Bishop was not consulted in the action on his wife. “We tried to separate him from it because of the inherent conflict of interest,” Strand said in an interview before the meeting. “We're sensitive to it. It's an awkward situation.”
       Although Staley refers to the board's May 14 action as a “firing,” it technically transfers Barbara Bishop to vice principal of District 11's night school at Palmer High. Bishop is a seven-year Midland principal who has guided its entire IB development. “Somehow some political thing happened,” Staley insisted.
       In an interview June 25, before the board meeting, Board Vice President Tom Strand said he was limited in what he could say because the Bishop action is a personnel matter. But he did elaborate that he believes the board decision “was in the best interest of the district and the students… The board as a whole felt there were certain performance issues that we needed to improve on.”
       Some pro and con information has come to light regarding Bishop as a principal. On the pro side, the school last year improved to the High level in the Academic Performance category based on the '07 Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) testing data and, in conjunction with that, received a Signficant Improvement recognition.
       Staley said the school's IB success has meant good people moving to the Midland area, resulting in less crime and improved relations with Westside businesses.
       On the con side, parent Karen Jones, who was Midland's PTA president, said she and several other parents had become increasingly concerned about a pattern of unsatisfactory behavior. She alleged that Bishop was showing up late or not at all, not handling her regular duties and not interfacing with teachers and parents. Jones, who has since transferred her younger son to another Westside school, said all but one of the classroom teachers who had been there when he started four years ago have since gone to other schools. “All the good teachers left,” she said. “I got sick of it.”
       She said she and other parents stated their concerns in letters to district staff months ago, but received no feedback and thought they had gotten nowhere. As a result, she said she too was surprised when the board acted to remove Bishop.
       District 11 Deputy Superintendent Mary Thurman said the board action on Bishop was based on a recommendation from Human Resources. She did not provide further details.
       Bishop herself declined to be interviewed.

Westside Pioneer article