Principal Out At Davidson Charter School
Executive Director Joy Warner spoke at the 2009 groundbreaking for Community School of Davidson High School, as Ralph Pillsbury listened. Leadership at Community School of Davidson High School on Armour Street is in transition after the unexpected departure of Principal Ralph Pillsbury on April 6. Officials at the charter school would not discuss the situation, saying it was a personnel matter. Dr. Pillsbury told DavidsonNews.net he did not leave voluntarily, but was let go amid philosophical disagreements with school leaders. The charter school hired Dr. Pillsbury two years ago to help launch its new high school. The career educator and curriculum specialist worked to develop the 4-year curriculum and assembled the team of high school teachers. "I spent two hard years in preparing what is the best group of hard-working people I know," he said. Community School of Davidson High School, in a converted warehouse at 404 Armour St. in Davidson, opened last fall with its first ninth grade class. The 100 first-year students include Dr. Pillsbury's son and daughter. Many of the ninth graders have been at the charter school since it first opened a decade ago. CSD Executive Director Joy Warner would not discuss Dr. Pillsbury's situation as a matter of school policy. But she did say she plans to lead the high school next year, along with the administrative staff already in place. "I am the executive director and continue to be, and will continue to lead the efforts in the high school," she said. There are no plans to hire a new principal at this time, she said. Ms. Warner has moved her desk from the elementary and middle school building, at 565 Griffith St., over to the Armour Street location. She said she plans to focus on the high school in the coming years, just as she focused on the elementary and middle schools when they were growing, she said. "The mission and the vision of the school has never changed and will continue," she said. Dr. Pillsbury beamed with excitement at the high school's ribbon cutting Aug. 12, confident that he and his team of teachers were setting up the students for success over the next four years. "I found a place where I could make a real difference in people's lives," he said at the ceremony. His sudden departure leaves many wondering what happened. Several teachers expressed surprise and concern, but they were unwilling to comment publicly. DR. PILLSBURY'S STATEMENT After he was contacted by DavidsonNews.net, Dr. Pillsbury issued this statement: I was called by a news reporter on Friday May 13 who said a source conveyed a message to them that the principal at the charter school in Davidson had been fired and that they were going to run a story on it. The reporter wished to know if it was true that I was fired. This is my response: On April 6, 2011, the Community School of Davidson administration took my keys, barred me from the school and threatened police action if I were to try to enter the school. It was their culminating unprofessional act of failure to keep their good faith covenant with me, one which was promised if I agreed to set up Community School of Davidson High School, all which has put me in a position to defend my reputation as a lifelong educator and prevent further negative reflection upon my character. During a staff meeting in the fall of 2010 an announcement was made that my position as principal was changed. Contrary to the original vision for the high school, a completely different direction of leadership took place. This change affected the collaborative constructivist school culture which I and these great teachers signed on for. My silence until now was for the reasons of moving ahead creatively and protecting the interests of all which was my main purpose & responsibility as I made appeals to the administration and the school board. But, with the administration's continued lack of accountability to me, and without offering a justifiable explanation to everyone concerned, I have come to this junction. In retrospect, knowing my silence might be misconstrued as complicity by parents, teachers, all my beloved students, and my larger community family, and with all of the good work the teachers and I had invested in the high school over the past two years, I feel it would be irresponsible to cloak the lack of professionalism which is presently threatening all that has been accomplished to date. I have no choice now but to report the facts documented by e-mails, staff meetings, recorded and witnessed. It was never my wish to leave this school. My covenant has been to personally help empower each student, including my own son and daughter, and assist them in obtaining a superior academic education enabling them to enter the college of their choice upon their graduation from high school. This is no longer possible. So, without a reference and zero accountability for administrations actions, it falls upon me to clear up any confusion about what has in fact happened here.