Parents and staff defend principal

Friday, April 16, 2021

At the April 12th A-A School Board meeting, several parents and staff members from Alta Elementary School spoke to school board members about Principal Stacy Mueller whose contract is being terminated at the end of the school year. They requested that the school board reconsider their decision and reinstate her contract.

No mention has been made by the superintendent or school board members as to the reason for termination, and Superintendent William Walters had no comment for the Pilot-Tribune.

Kelli Bartholomew is an associate in the preschool and has a daughter at Alta Elementary. She believes the board has made a grave mistake in terminating Ms. Mueller’s contract. She said Ms. Mueller is well-liked by staff and students and fights for all of them. She has seen Ms. Mueller work in the cafeteria when needed to serve breakfast or lunch and cleans tables to help the janitors. “Every day she greets students and staff in the hallways, the office or the cafeteria. She knows every student by name. She is everywhere, all the time, helping and supporting anyone who needs it,” Bartholomew said, adding that Ms. Mueller steps in as teacher or secretary when needed, always with a smile on her face.

“After the board terminated Ms. Mueller’s contract, the reaction of staff, students and the community was jaw-dropping,” Bartholomew said. “Everyone wanted to know why. To this day, that is still a big question for everyone, and many people are reeling from this news.” She said there is a ton of support for Ms. Mueller, adding that this year has been beyond challenging for everyone, but Ms. Mueller has been present to support her staff and students. She asked the Board to reinstate Ms. Mueller’s contract.

Mike Bartholomew has been employed at the school district for 20 years as a bus driver. “Stacy is by far and away one of the best I’ve ever worked with.” He said she always has the drivers’ and teachers’ backs in any situation. “They all respect her. I highly encourage you folks to reconsider your decision,” he said.

Nate Overturf has children at the elementary school, is a former employee there and has seen her interaction firsthand with the students. When she walks down the hall, she knows every student’s name. He said Mueller works one-on-one with kids who need special attention. His older children have had a variety of principals in another school district with frequent turnaround of principals and teachers. “They get used to a principal or an educator, they lose that educator and then they’re like I don’t know what to do, I don’t know who to turn to, I don’t know who to trust. Losing Stacy is going to be a big, big hole,” he said.

Marty Demuth has had three kids in the school district over the past 10 years. “She’s very supportive. She does the right thing. I’m tired of my kids having to switch principals every couple years. The kids shouldn’t have to deal with the lack of continuity. Nothing’s ever the same. People come in and change it again. It takes the kids a year, year and a half to get used to the way things are run now. It shouldn’t be that way. There’s nothing she has done that we know of that warrants not renewing her contract. If there’s something that we should know, then we should be told. The board members are elected. The public deserves to know,” he said.

Another parent of two children who attend Alta Elementary said they open-enrolled to Alta because of how accommodating Alta was. “Stacy in particular has been accommodating my 7-year-old son who is autistic and has gone out of the way to go above and beyond what he needs.” He said she is one of the more collaborative educational professionals in BV County and is always looking out for the well-being of her students.

A woman said she has a 4-year-old son in special education. She was nervous when he was to start his 3-year old preschool class, but stated that the teachers and staff have been incredible, especially Mueller. She felt comfortable with her son being at school, and he has blossomed there. From the beginning, Mueller remembered her son’s name and her name. “It’s the little things that make a big difference for a parent, especially one who struggles to have a child get the care that he needs. I think it would be a huge disservice to the parents, to the children and the teaching staff to lose her.”

Her husband said, “Having a kid with different needs is very difficult and every day it really is a struggle, and Stacy’s been a light in the dark, a huge one, so I hope you’ll take that into consideration.”

Other parents said Mueller’s interaction with the kids is heartwarming, she is active with PTO and the playground project, and that working with her is an absolute pleasure. One said, “That hole will cause a big issue, not only with the students, but within the community as well.” Another said, “We just don’t want to see her go.”