School board denies principal’s request to withdraw resignation

Terry Quillen
Terry Quillen Lexington

Several parents and students sent a unified message to the Scott County school board Thursday: Bring back our principal. However, the emotional comments weren’t enough to persuade the school board to reinstate the former school leader.

Terry Quillen, the former principal of Garth Elementary School, requested that the school board withdraw his resignation, saying he was not given adequate time to consider his decision. Quillen’s resignation stemmed from an undisclosed incident that occurred Nov. 30. After Quillen’s resignation, the board of the Garth Elementary Parent-Teacher organization issued a statement expressing “shock” at the development.

“Mr. Quillen made an instant impact the moment he was given the keys to Garth Elementary,” the statement read. “There was a sense throughout the building of confidence, community, and what he believed was the cornerstone of any quality work environment, respect.”

During the school board meeting, several parents and students spoke highly of Quillen and wanted him to be reinstated.

Dayle Leach, a grandmother of a Garth Elementary School student, said her granddaughter cried when she found out Quillen would no longer be at the school.

“I want to say that if a principal affects a 6-year-old child that way, that’s a pretty wonderful principal,” she said.

Stephanie Hatter, the president of the Garth Elementary School Parent-Teacher organization, said the school was not a pleasant place to be for the three years before Quillen arrived.

“The impact that Mr. Quillen has made on our school in five months is remarkable,” she said.

Jamie Curtis, a parent and a member of the School-Based Decision Making council that hired Quillen, said Quillen has “transformed what the school is about.”

“He’s motivating staff and he’s motivated students and parents too,” she said.

Four students also read statements from handwritten notes.

“Mr. Quillen is funny and he helps us have a good day,” student Peyton Wilson said. “Without him, the school is sad.”

After public comment, the board voted to go into a closed executive session that ultimately lasted more than 3 1/2 hours. As the board convened privately, kids doodled on the white board in the meeting room, and one guest led the audience in prayer, hoping Quillen would be reinstated.

Quillen, who attended the board meeting, said he was humbled by the support from the parents and kids.

“I never dreamed that I would have this kind of support,” he said. “But I have it. That means we’re doing the right things.”

However, the board denied Quillen’s request on the basis of evidence showing that it was “more likely than not that the resignation was knowing and voluntary.”

Many people there were upset at the board’s decision, which came about 10:50 p.m. People yelled comments: “(Scott County superintendent Kevin) Hub must go” and “You all ruined Garth.” Parents and students cried and consoled one another outside the board meeting room as the meeting continued.

Barry Wilson, a parent, said he was very disappointed in the outcome.

“I think with this decision, Garth, or the whole Scott County system, has taken a step back,” he said.

Paul Krueger, director of elementary education for the school system, is acting principal at Garth Elementary.