EHS principal's fate shrouded in silence

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Administrators of Elizabethton City Schools and the system's high school principal remain tight-lipped after a meeting to discuss internal grievances was held Monday morning.
   Elizabethton High School Principal, Edwin Alexander, remains on the job following a meeting with city school officials and the system's attorney. Neither Alexander nor school officials divulged the topics discussed at Monday's gathering with the Star. However, the system's attorney disputed rumors that Alexander's dismissal as principal was the subject of the meeting.
   "We all agreed not to get into the nuts and bolts of the meeting today," said attorney Patrick Hull, who represents the city school board and school system. "The rumor that there was some called meeting over the dismissal of Mr. Alexander is false. It was very disruptive to the school system."
   Elizabethton Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy Blevins, and Hull, said the meeting had been held at the request of Alexander. The meeting began at approximately 10:45 a.m. and broke up shortly after noon Monday.
   Alexander arrived at the ECS administration building with his attorney, Virginia McCoy, of the Tennessee Education Administration. He declined comment regarding the meeting or the grievances.
   A petition indicating Alexander was under "close scrutiny" and urging Elizabethton citizens to call city school board members in support of him began circulating in the community late last week.
   "I am concerned about who would start these rumors," said Blevins, who deferred most questions regarding the matter to Hull. "It appears someone had really jumped the gun on this issue."
   Hull said Monday's meeting was to discuss some ongoing matters "including some grievances and to try to mediate and work out some of those things."
   Blevins acknowledged two grievances pertaining to Monday's meeting had been filed but declined to identify the sources or subjects of the grievances. An internal investigation was ongoing, Hull said.
   When asked if Alexander was being considered for dismissal from his position, Hull said "There is nothing in place at all relating to his dismissal." He added that the firing of a system administrator or teacher would be brought up in a public meeting and included an involved process.
   "Any schoolteacher or administrator that was to be dismissed - there would be charges presented at a public board meeting," said Hull. "It is a very complex and long process."
   State law gives the city school board authority to shape school system policies, but ultimately places personnel decisions in the hands of school system administrators.
   Blevins said she became aware of the rumors surrounding Alexander's job and the petitions on Friday afternoon after returning from a trip out of town. She also said she was aware petitions had circulated at the high school, and students had also worked on petitions as well.
   "That concerns me that instead of being engaged in learning activity we would have some disruptiveness of people working on petitions," said Blevins. She added that no petitions signed by citizens or students had been submitted to the ECS administration office.
   Blevins said students had every right to sign and form petitions as long as those activities were not being done during class sessions.
   "I do appreciate their interest and their enthusiasm," said Blevins. "However, I would prefer they be in the classroom teaching and learning rather than working on petitions."