Madison East principal leaves just months into his first year

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 9:57 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Less than two months into his first school year as Madison East High’s principal, Sean Leavy is leaving for a new role within the Madison Metropolitan School District. As of Wednesday, Leavy will step down from his role as principal and move to an administrative position within the district, an MMSD spokesperson explained.

Assistant Principal Mikki Smith will take the reins at Madison East on an interim basis and is expected to fill that role for the rest of the academic year, MMSD Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Tim Lemonds wrote in a statement. Smith has two decades of experience as assistant principal at MMSD schools, and spent the past 11 years at Madison East.

“This change reflects MMSD’s commitment to ensure our school district has a leadership team who are in roles that best optimize their experience and skills to move MMSD forward toward reaching our Strategic Framework goals,” LeMonds said.

Leavy will now become MMSD’s Director of Secondary Multi-Tiered Support and Scheduling.

Madison East Walkouts

Leavy’s departure comes exactly two weeks after a student-led walkout at Madison East in support of a young woman who was reportedly sexually assaulted at a party the previous weekend. Just prior to the walkout, Leavy sent families a written apology for his response to questions about how the school’s Behavior Education Plan handled sexual misconduct, saying that it “left some students and staff feeling dismissed, upset and unsupported.”

“My response was too technical and did not meet the needs of our students and staff,” he added. Leavy went on to compliment the students who urged him at that time to clarify what he meant, noting that they showed a “tremendous amount of courage to engage figures of authority.”

Leavy’s four-paragraph apology did not detail his response, the specific concerns it caused, and the interactions that occurred during the assembly, nor did it address the student walkout that was coming later in the day.

The letter did not clarify what instigated the assembly on the school’s response plan. However, school officials had gathered students together for the session last week, which would have been prior to the alleged sexual assault occurring.

Madison East high School students walk out of class on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Madison East high School students walk out of class on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.(WMTV/Isabel Lawrence)

Later that week, Madison East experienced a second walk-out over students concerns about how district administrators responded to sexual assault allegations. Ahead of that one, Leavy sent a note to families, which was shared by a parent with NBC15 News. In it, Leavy discouraged students from attending this new demonstration.

“While we commend our students who continue to lift their voices on dismantling cultures of sexual violence, we ask you to encourage your student to stay in school during the school day on Friday so they do not negatively impact their instructional time,” he wrote. He also promised students resources if they needed help and encouraged them to notify a trusted adult if they have experienced or have knowledge of sexual violence allegations.

Over 100 students gather during fight

Last week, nearly a dozen Madison Police Dept. officers responded to the high school after reports of a fight around lunchtime caused more than 100 students to gather outside the Fourth Street entrance.

According to police, while authorities were on their way, the original students who had been fighting took off in a gold van. The first officer on scene reported the crowd was in the middle of the street and another fight seemed imminent.

Alone, the officer tried dispersing the crowd using the squad car’s PA system and sirens, the MPD report recounted. The mass of people did not respond, and, in that time, another fight broke out in the middle of the pack. Eventually, at least ten more officers and a supervisor arrived on the scene. As they did, the scores of individuals began to leave – the suspects escaping my mixing in with everyone else.

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