Cedar Rapids Board of Education Releases Statement Concerning Washington High
Tuesday, Cedar Rapids Washington Principal Ralph Plagman resigned amid the fallout of a former substitute teacher's relationship with a student. The school board has now released a statement.
This statement came from the President of the Board of Education around mid-evening on Wednesday:
"The School Board continues to receive regular updates from the District’s administration and legal counsel regarding the pending investigation at Washington High School (WHS). Due to the fact that the pending investigation involves personnel matters, the Board is legally prevented from making any comments about the specifics of the investigation.
Although some events being reviewed as part of the investigation occurred earlier this year, some additional information came to light in recent days. The Board will be notified when the investigation by the District’s administration and legal counsel has been completed. The Board will review the results of the investigation and take appropriate action based upon any recommendations that are made as a result.
The Board has five of seven members with children who attend or have attended Washington High School and are aware of the inopportune timing of Dr. Plagman’s resignation; it is unfortunate that his long tenure at WHS ended this way. Given information we’re aware of to-date, we are supportive of actions taken by District administration under consultation with our legal counsel.
This afternoon, the staff at WHS were provided the following information by District administration regarding a proposed process and timeline for the selection of an interim principal for the 2016-17 school year and for a principal for the 2017-18 school year. This process was developed by the District to fill the recently created vacancy in the principal position at WHS.
As one WHS parent posted on social media today, “... (we) need to prepare to openly welcome the new principal who will replace (Dr. Plagman). He or she will be stepping into an enormous role. Applying anger or sadness in his or her direction is not following the example that Dr. Plagman has demonstrated to the Warrior family over the years....we need to do our best to continue to make Washington High School the wonderful school that it is. And we all need to take on the role that he has always done...Learn everyone's name. Support all groups and go to events...even if your kid isn't involved. Encourage academic excellence in our kids. Celebrate our diversity. Be enthusiastic. Support the staff and be their cheerleaders. And continue to make everyday a great day to be a Warrior.” We couldn’t agree more."
Board of Education
Cedar Rapids Community School District
This follows Tuesday afternoon's email from Washington High Principal Ralph Plagman, announcing his resignation after 49 years in the school district, the last 35 as Principal of the east-side high school:
"Dear Washington Community,
I wish to announce my retirement from my position as Principal at Washington High School effective August 3, 2016. Although I had intended to continue in this position for the 2016-2017 school year, the Cedar Rapids Community School District has asked me to step down from this position, and I have agreed to do so.
I have been advised by professionals with particular expertise in school law that I have done nothing unprofessional, unethical, or illegal in the matter involving a substitute teacher’s inappropriate conduct with a student. There has been significant media coverage regarding this matter, and I wish to comment briefly on it. When I first learned about suspected inappropriate conduct in February, I did my best to perform a prompt and thorough investigation, and to make decisions based on the available information. When additional information surfaced in May, I worked with school district administration to again take prudent action. Due to the ongoing nature of this matter it would be inappropriate to respond further.
The safety and best interests of all students and staff members have always been my top priority, and I have never, in my 49-year career with the District, done anything to jeopardize that. As much as I love my job, I cannot continue without the support of the district.
I love Washington High School, where I have been principal for 35 years and one month, and all of the thousands of students, staff members, and parents whom I have been blessed to know and serve over all of those years. It has been tremendous honor and joy! I also have wonderful memories of my earlier years at Kennedy High School and Metro High School. In my retirement I will continue to be the #1 fan of the Washington Warriors!
All the best to all of you!"
Both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, community members showed their support at Cedar Rapids Washington and an online petition called "Bring Dr. Plagman Back" has more than 3,000 signatures.
What do you think? Is the district's request to Plagman warranted? Does it go too far? Or is it simply too early to know until more information on the investigation is released? Finally, do you think results of the investigation will be released publicly?