Gallagher principal’s resignation causes a stir in Storey County | NevadaAppeal.com

Gallagher principal’s resignation causes a stir in Storey County

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Complaints about the loss of an elementary school principal and the way it was handled brought about 40 Virginia City parents out on a cold night to vent their frustrations to the school board.

Sue Moulden, who had served as principal at Hugh Gallagher Elementary School in Virginia City for 41Ú2 years, resigned effective Dec. 31, 2006.

She gave notice of her leaving to district officials nearly a month in advance of her departure. Todd Hess, principal of Virginia City Middle School, will take over as principal of Hugh Gallagher as well.

The elementary school staff were unhappy they were not told of Moulden’s resignation until right before she left, and parents were angry about being left out altogether.

“Parents and staff members of the other schools in our district knew that Ms. Moulden would be leaving before we, her staff, were informed,” said teacher Margy Schieberl at Thursday’s meeting.

School Superintendent Rob Slaby said he did not send out notifications at Moulden’s request, and thought word had already gotten out.

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“We thought everyone knew,” he said. “I thought it was better to let Sue handle it.”

At the meeting, both the board and Slaby declined to comment further, citing confidentiality rules. Board Chairwoman Pam Smith said in an earlier interview that she was not aware of any pressure on Moulden to leave, and added that she was not privy to personnel matters.

Moulden denied asking Slaby not to inform staff and parents, and said a lack of support from Slaby and the board of trustees led her to submit her resignation.

“We were not supported by the board and superintendent,” she said, adding that she had a good relationship with staff and residents. “It was a positive environment.”

Moulden said she was disappointed in Slaby and the board, because she thinks the kids should be the first priority and that they’re not right now.

“They’re more concerned about meeting their deadlines for all of the bond issues,” she said.

She praised the board for attending to the physical needs of the school, such as fixing heaters, installing air conditioning and improving playgrounds, but added educating should come first.

Parent Jennifer Frisby called Moulden’s departure “a bad decision that was handled improperly. I didn’t always agree with her, but she addressed every concern of mine. It always ended up that the kids were thought of first.”

During her tenure, Hugh Gallagher Elementary School was listed as either adequate or high-achieving under the No Child Left Behind rules, as were the other schools in the Storey County system.

Moulden said because of No Child Left Behind she was pushing for more improvement, and that may have brought her into conflict with the new superintendent, as well as a few parents and staff members.

“The ring you have to reach for gets higher every year,” she said. “We worked together to do everything possible to make sure our students made the (Adequate Yearly Progress). Parents were well aware what our goal was. We knew last year we were deemed a high-achieving school. This year we wanted to raise that to an even higher level.”

Moulden said in the 2007-08 school year the percentage of students required to meet AYP standards goes from 10 percent to 12 percent, and the ultimate goal is for 100 percent of students to be on grade level by 2013-2014.

Moulden is now employed as a school improvement consultant at the Nevada Department of Education.

“I’m excited that I will have the opportunity to work with school administrators and teachers to help schools get themselves out of ‘in need of improvement,'” she said. In need of improvement, is another status within the federal NCLB education act.

In addition to her time at Hugh Gallagher Elementary, Moulden has been a teacher or administrator at Eagle Valley Middle School and Mark Twain Elementary School and served her administrative internship at Seeliger Elementary School.

Though she’s looking forward to the new challenges, there is one thing she will miss.

“I will very much miss having the kids all day,” she said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.