The first few tumultuous months of the 2017-18 school year for administrators in the Maricopa Unified School District have concluded.
With resignations from a principal and an assistant principal, two extended absences and many relocations, the district now seems to have settled the issues with its school leaders.
However, district officials have remained tight-lipped about what those issues were that led to the upheaval.
The first resignation came Oct. 3, with former Maricopa Wells Middle School Assistant Principal Mallory Miller.
She began the school year at Maricopa High School after the school governing board approved a promotion from her previous post at Desert Wind Middle School as a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) in July. See timeline below.
Miller briefly rejoined Renita Myers, MHS principal, before the district abruptly transferred Miller to the middle school soon after the school year began in August. The two previously held administrator positions together at DWMS.
Around the same time in August, Superintendent Steve Chestnut replaced Mallory Miller with MWMS Assistant Principal Thad Miller (no relation) at MHS.
Chestnut previously told parents the district swapped administrators “in the best interests of MUSD” at a school board meeting in September, but later declined to provide a specific explanation.
However, when MWMS Principal Rick Abel went on leave for a week, Thad Miller returned to MWMS to serve as acting principal.
In a letter dated Oct. 23, Myers wrote to the MUSD Governing Board:
“It is with hesitancy and great sorrow that I submit this letter of resignation […]. Effective immediately I am resigning from my position as Principal of Maricopa High School I wish students and staff of Maricopa High School the very best.”
Myers’ resignation came after a month spent on what district officials originally called a “leave of absence.” Abel, who had recently returned as principal of MWMS, was made acting principal of MHS.
A leave of absence for Myers did not appear on district personnel documents during the month of her absence. LOAs are typically requested in writing by employees and approved by the school governing board.
MUSD Human Resources Director Tom Beckett departed from the original designation Nov. 7, saying the district actually placed Myers on paid leave beginning Sept. 25.
Beckett said the district did not pursue disciplinary actions against Myers or Mallory Miller, whose resignations are still a mystery to many.
When asked if the district would provide an explanation to parents, Becket said, “We are focusing on the future at this time.”
Nov. 3, the district issued a statement informing the public that Abel and Thad Miller would stay in their respective positions for the remainder of the school year, with titles changed from “acting” to “interim.” That statement did not include mention of Myers’ resignation.
News broke of the resignation after the district published personnel documents for its Nov. 8 governing board meeting.
Beckett classified both Myers’ and Mallory Miller’s resignations as “mutual” between the former administrators and the district. A fee typically assessed to staff who break their contracts will not be applied to Myers and Miller, Beckett said.
Chestnut did not respond to requests for comment.
The governing board will vote to approve Myers’ resignation during a meeting Nov. 8 at the District Office Administration Building at 6:30 p.m.
Although MHS and MWMS have found leaders in Thad Miller and Abel, both interim principals have been left with an assistant principal vacancy at each of their schools.
Beckett said the district has received 52 applications between the two positions so far.