Chikaming Elementary parents push for principal to be reinstated
THREE OAKS, Mich. -- River Valley parents are speaking out against their new superintendent’s decision to put the elementary school principal on leave with virtually no explanation.
Heidi Clark is the principal at Chikaming Elementary.
She’s a Three Oaks native who went through the entire River Valley school system and has been on the faculty for over 20 years.
So, it came as a shock to parents one month ago when suddenly she was ousted.
Rebecca Burnette has two kids attending Chikaming Elementary and said at the end of January parents got only a brief email from Superintendent Scott Bojanich – who just joined the district in July – saying Clark was being put on leave.
Parents would get no further communication from the district, Burnette said, for weeks.
“Two weeks later was the first assurance that there were no concerns regarding student safety or misconduct, that is a real issue because it left open ended the possibility for conjecture amongst the community ,” she said.
Superintendent Bojanich sent a letter to parents last Friday revealing the school board had been approached over concerns about Clark and brought in an outside firm to determine the authenticity of electronic evidence relating to her alleged misconduct.
But – he assured parents these allegations in no way involved the well-being of students.
Chikaming Elementary parents then banding together to demand more transparency from the district.
Burnette even wrote a letter on behalf of those parents which she read at the school board’s last meeting, in addition to the Change.org petition already set up for Clark by parents and a GoFundMe to help pay for her legal expenses.
“We’re not asking to disclose people’s personal information, but there are a lot of things the superintendent can tell us,” said Burnette. “What are the expectations? Is this just an open ended investigation that’s going to last through the end of the school year? How much this is costing as taxpayers?”
Burnette said she trusts Principal Clark as she’s been a lifelong educator to River Valley kids.
“As our administrator has been a part of this community for decades, this superintendent has only just become part of our community and this is not fostering a relationship of trust,” she said.
ABC57 did reach out to Clark’s legal counsel for comment and they provided us with a petition they filed in Henry County, Illinois which claims Clark was put on leave after a district parent accused her of giving false testimony in a custody case hearing – which she was summoned as a witness – between two parents whose child attends Chikaming Elementary.
ABC57 will stay on this story and update you as we learn more.