RICHMOND – Negative news tends to be more memorable than positive, based on research reported by AdWeek, and that may be true for the Richmond School District.
Positive headlines over the past year have involved the district being named a top performer by U.S. News and World Report, achieving solid standardized test results and holding last year’s community-involved, impaired-driving exercise.
But there have been negative news reports, too. Rightly or wrongly, they involved Richmond High School Principal John Parker, whom the board placed “on leave.” Those reports included:
• Feb. 13, 2018, two unnamed female high school teachers filed a grievance against Parker and Aytes that alleged “an atmosphere of intimidation, fear and unchecked authority” at the high school, The Richmond Daily News reported at the time.
Superintendent Mike Aytes said Tuesday the board reviewed and found “no merit” to the allegations.
• Later, in February 2018, Fox 4 reported a biracial freshman said that, during a disagreement, a teacher pushed him, and Parker reportedly refused to release a written copy of the boy’s statement to the boy’s father. Other students did not support the student’s claim, Aytes said Tuesday.
• March 2018, Parker received criticism, in part, for sending a student home for wearing shorts shorter than allowed under the dress code.
• In this period of complaints against Parker, Aytes issued a statement that Parker seemed to be the target of orchestrated character assassination: “Those involved in the campaign have had a difficult time finding any facts to support their dislike of Mr. Parker, so, they have chosen to make things up, and their newspaper compatriots have chosen to print this out-right falsehood.”
• Aug. 28, 2018, early in the 2018-2019 school year, when finding two students fighting in the high school hallway, Parker dragged one student off the other and held the student by the throat. About 4 seconds elapsed from the time Parker grabbed to the time he released the student. The student did not sustain an injury, but the action drew questions.
• Feb. 15, 2019, Robbin Cole, one of the teachers who complained about intimidation a year earlier, filed a discrimination case against Richmond School District.
The case is pending.