Fired

School district does not renew assistant principal's contract

A new assistant principal will help lead Moffat County High School next year after the school board unanimously agreed not renew a contract with Jessie Farr.

Superintendent Pete Bergmann recommended that the board deny Farr's contract renewal following an executive session Thursday night. Farr is six months into her second year with the high school. Her last day with the district will be June 18.

District educators and staff are hired on a "probationary" basis during their first three years on the job, which makes it easier for administration and the school board to deny a contract renewal.

"Moffat County School District believes that we can hire an assistant principal that is a better fit with the philosophy and goals of the current administration," Superintendent Pete Bergmann wrote in a letter to Farr outlining his recommendation.

School board member Rod Durham called for the motion, which was seconded by board member Andrea Camp. Board members Jo Ann Baxter and Steve Hafey were absent from the meeting.

A 27-year veteran educator and administrator with school districts in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, Farr said she felt Principal Jane Krogman asked her to resign because of "a different teaching style."

"I believe that Ms. Krogman wants me to resign quietly and just go away," Farr wrote in a letter to school board members. "She has changed her mind about my being a good balance to her inexperience, apparently. I believe that I am not being asked to resign on the merits."

A hiring committee of school district employees, board members and community residents hired Farr in 2001. Krogman was ultimately in charge of hiring Farr. Superintendent Pete Bergmann recommended the decision and the board approved it at that time.

But Krogman made it clear Farr was not her first choice, Farr said.

When she received the job offer via telephone from Krogman, Farr said the principal told her she was following the wishes of the hiring committee.

Krogman said personnel matters are confidential and wouldn't comment on Farr's removal.

"The school board has entrusted me to make the best decision," she said.

Krogman also declined comment about telling Farr she didn't want her hired.

Former school board member Jerry Magas said he "strongly supported" hiring Farr, while he served on the six-member hiring committee.

"It was unanimous on the committee that she was good candidate," Magas said. "It's unfortunate that the two (Farr and Krogman) couldn't get together and work out their differences."

Farr said she and Krogman had "difficult times" last year, but felt the situation was remedied this year after Bergmann intervened.

"We have no problems that I am aware of," Farr said.

Farr added, "I have never been in a setting where my experience and wisdom was resented instead of valued. But that is what I found since taking the job at MCHS."

In a performance appraisal of the 2002-03 school year dated Jan. 14, 2004, Farr "met district standards" in an evaluation that charted her performance in five areas: personal characteristics, effectiveness with people, decision-making ability, general management abilities and general administrative characteristics. Krogman is listed as the evaluator.

However in a summary section of the appraisal, Krogman wrote: "It is imperative for us to have a cohesive administrative team to move forward as a school. Mrs. Farr is an effective individual; however the team is not effective as a unit. Philosophically, Mrs. Farr and I approach issues very differently."

Under a section labeled recommendations, Krogman asked Farr to help unite workers in the counseling office and evaluate her effectiveness with disciplinary matters.

As assistant principal, Farr's roles included acting as the dean of students, head of counseling department and overseer of the special education department.

Farr said she told district administration before the Christmas break that she was considering retirement. After classes resumed Farr learned "that decision was not mine to make," she said.

Farr told school board members she would voluntarily resign if she received letters of recommendations from all administrators and a severance package of $10,000.

Bergmann said no district teachers or administrators have ever been granted severance pay.

Farr was invited to attend the executive session to make a statement to the board members, but the meeting wasn't intended as a hearing.

Board members voted after coming out of executive session, which is a portion of a meeting off-limits to the public.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031.

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