Bailey to Stay in District on Special Assignment

The former Aquila Elementary principal will focus on the achievement gap.

Freida Bailey, the former principal who was put on last April after a group of parents called for her ouster, has been given the job of "principal on special assignment" within the district.

The full-time job, which is effective immediately, will have Bailey looking at ways to address the achievement gap between white students and black students.

Interim Aquila principal Clarence Pollock will remain in that position at least until the end of this school year, district spokeswoman Sara Thompson said. Scott Meyers, who took on Pollock's previous job as assistant principal at will also remain in that role through this school year.

Thompson said no decisions have been made yet regarding how those two positions will be filled next year and beyond.

Bailey was put on leave after a group of Aquila parents , claiming she mishandled several bullying incidents and generally lacked leadership, which resulted in what they said was a poor learning environment for their children.

Thompson at the time declined to discuss the district’s reasons for removing Bailey, citing federal and state personnel privacy laws.

On Tuesday, Thompson said she wasn't sure how parents would handle the news, but added that the district felt like it was a good fit for Bailey.

"We're always looking out for the best interest of our students," Thompson said.

Bailey's position, which is new for the district, will be paid for by the district's federal "title funding," which is directed at helping struggling and low-income students. The district previously had a title funds coordinator, but she retired last year. Thompson said a number of that position's old duties will be assumed by Bailey.

Bailey will also be tasked with getting St. Louis Park schools to hit their federal Adequate Yearly Progress marks by implementing programs that figure to help struggling students. The district failed to make AYP this past year.

Mildred January 03, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I am so disgusted with the school board. Creating a special position for someone who wasn't fit to serve in their original position?? Seems to me that the district figures this will be a way of avoiding a racially based lawsuit by the former principal. When will people get it through their heads that she was removed because she was NOT doing her job which created an unsafe environment for students NOT for the color of her skin?
Joe January 04, 2012 at 01:09 AM
How can our district afford to pay a full principal's salary for someone not filling that role? This is an egregious misuse of funds. The district has enough administrators running around doing various studies and assessments. The superintendent could hire three teachers with that money! Put it where it will be most effective, not to someone placed upon administrative leave for leadership and management issues. This district is losing its grip.
Dan January 04, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Again the school board placates to undeserved tenure and poor behavior. She has already proven her worth to the district, just fire her! Last year when the school board closed a school they had an extra principal. In the name of "saving money", they removed this role, and an extremely talented principal from the school district. Here we are 1 year later with now the same number of principals we had then. What happened to "saving money"? In this new role, we need a leader to close this gap. Her past performance shows she does not have this capability. I am disgusted by the school board.
Amy January 04, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Regarding Thompson’s quote "Not sure how the parents will handle the news". I have a suggestion - how about you start with actually communicating the news. As a parent of children who attend this school it sure would have been nice to have learned this from our actual school board and the not the Patch. But it appears that The Patch does a better job of keeping us more informed! I was told a flyer was sent home in my child's backpack... I guess I will have to dig through and find it. I think this type of message should have been communicated in a more meaningful manner then stuffed in the take home folder with the lunch menu and karate lessons brochure... But then again - I’m not surprised. The lack of communication has been an ongoing theme for the current administration and school board. Good luck to Ms. Bailey in success in closing that achievement gap. There is a huge task at hand and she will need every ounce of energy to even make a dent! Curious who has been doing this role since the previous person retired? If Ms Bailey was such a great fit, why wasn’t she assigned in September? I find it hard to believe she can be effective in this role with half of the year over... I have no doubt that we as parents don’t have all the facts as I’m sure there is much more to this story that cannot be disclosed. I think the Board / Administration should start proactively thinking "how the Parents will Handle" this type of news, aren’t we the customers?
Dede January 04, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Maybe an overhaul of the superintendent should be done! Since Debra Bowers has been the superintendent, the decisions have been poor at best. Especially when she accepted a pay increase when others were being laid off and not one other person in the district received a raise. A good leader would have turned down an increase in those conditions.
Lee-Ann Stephens January 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I am so sick of the Freida Bailey bashing! I worked for her for several years and I would do so again. She doesn't lack leadership nor vision. Any situation that was brought to her attention was handled appropriately. When I would ask for resources for my students, she always found a way to get what I needed as long as it would impact student achievement. She is an amazing woman of extreme professionalism, high integrity and noble character. I know her. Do you?
Nicole Thomas January 06, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Do any of you think that maybe she is staying in the district becuase the almost 10 month long investigation, came up with nothing... I think it is so interesting that we as adults are so concerned about our kids being bullied, however, we as adults bully other adults. If we don't get our way, we do whatever we can to get our way. This has nothing to do with the color of her skin. This has to do with the fact that an investigation came up with nothing. Imagine working your whole life to work with students, have that taken away and have people think that you got your job back because of the color of your skin and not because there was nothing valid to begin with. I too, have worked with her and alongside of her. I know her and respect her and am so happy that she is back helping our kids. How will she close the achievement gap? The same way she did at Aquila!!!
Joe January 06, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Wow. That Nicole Thomas can dredge up a charge of racism out of the previous emails reflects just how much the politics of race has blinded and consumed some in the district over the last five years. With the exception of the first email, none of the remaining even mentioned race, and the first explicitly denies Ms. Bailey was removed because of her skin color. What's next? Inquisition?
Mildred January 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
SHE didn't close the achievemant gap at Aquila. It was the work of Shelley Nielsen, and Rob Metz, the former AQ principals who worked for YEARS to close that gap. Her one lame year of purchasing reading programs and computer math programs didn't narrow the gap. It was the training, dedication and hard work of the TEACHERS under the direction of the past principals that did it. Don't give credit where it is not deserved. As far as the allegations? I maintain that it was cheaper to keep her than to proceed with a costly lawsuit. You'll notice nothing was said about any allegtions being proved false???
Mildred January 06, 2012 at 04:50 PM
And yes, Leann. I do know her and can speak 1st hand to MANY situations that occurred and were not dealt with with integrity or professionalism. You were not there at the time, so I guess if you didn;t see it happen, it must not have. Much the way Bailey dealt with behavior issues - if she didn't see it on the video...didn't happen. Disgusting.
Bill Levine January 09, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I think it is a shame that we are paying someone probably over $110,000 in salary and benefits since April for what? And now we are going to continue paying this amount to have someone crunch numbers? It is obvious that the district acted hastily and without just cause and is just now trying to cover their back end. Bowers dropped the ball on this one along with the Board members. Many parents contacted the administration for months about their concerns and they...Bowers and the Board members, did nothing! Hearsay and lack of specifics have been horrendous, and the amount of dollars being wasted should be used for direct service to our children. We definitely need a change of leadership at the top!
Rusty January 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Cut her pay to that of 1st year teacher, while investigation continues. Teacher of year's kid tormented another child all thru CM, and nothing was done, retainer tossed into urinal.


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