Sennett Middle School teachers fight for ousted principal
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Metropolitan School District held a school board meeting Wednesday, giving Ray F. Sennett Middle School teachers the chance to voice their opinions on the recent ousting of Dr. Jeffrey Copeland, the school’s former principal. Teachers arrived in full force to ask for their principal back.
“He changed the culture of our school in eight days,” said science teacher Carmen Ames.
According to MTI, Copeland was fired Monday. Teachers at the meeting say his impact was felt in eight days, meaning Copeland was put on leave shortly after the start of the year, up to this week when he was let go. Teachers at the meeting say what he did for the school in just over a week spoke volumes.
“This man, God you guys, to have a boss like we had that had our back for eight days it is unbelievable the feeling that he gave us, and just take and just taken, no good reason,” said art teacher Thomas Blau. “This guy, man, this didn’t have to happen.”
Teacher after teacher shared emotional stories of the impact they say Copeland had on the culture at the middle school, begging the school board for a reversal of the decision. Teachers talked about new rules they say Dr. Copeland put into place that helped students feel safe and focus on learning, things like new cell phone policies, escorting kids to the bathroom and not allowing foul language.
“To see a culture change, in eight days, is phenomenal, and yes, it is us, we are part of that culture, but we need someone that backs us up, that believes in the culture believes in the Sennett the way we do,” said Ames.
Others spoke for the students who could not drive to the meeting.
“They can’t drive here to tell you how safe they felt this year, can’t drive here to tell you that they were learning something in the classroom this year and that they were free from bullying this year, and that’s all thanks to the leadership of doctor Jeffery Copeland,” said math teacher Adam Koenig.
As teachers advocate for the school board to reinstate Dr. Copeland, Sennett parents are left with questions unanswered.
Daisi Vazquez is mom to a Sennett seventh grader who came home surprised Monday when the announcement was made.
“My daughter said oh my god mommy, he’s no longer there! It’s too many questions why? I don’t understand,” questions Vazquez.
Vazquez and other parents say they received an email from the district on Monday saying Dr. Copeland was no longer employed with the district, and that two interim principals were taking over in the meantime. They say that email did not provide any information as to why.
Sennett parent Teri Thomas says while she doesn’t have enough information to decide whether or not she believes Copeland should lead the school, she says transparency is essential to education, and she does not feel like she is getting that from MMSD district leaders.
“I would like to know what happened at least. They had high hopes for Dr. Copeland to transform Sennett and all of a sudden we got an email saying he’s no longer with Sennett, so I have no clue what happened,” says Thomas.
If he wishes, Copeland has 30 days to file a grievance to begin the reinstatement process.
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