Charlotte Observer- Police: Principal Barry Bowe Killed Himself
Huntersville police said Tuesday they believe the principal of Northwest School of the Arts took his own life, days after parents had launched a public effort to protect him from an imminent dismissal from his job. Barry Bowe, 54, was found dead in the garage area of his Huntersville home on Monday afternoon. Deputy Chief Michael Kee said all indications are that Bowe committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. News of Bowe's passing stunned students and parents at Northwest, a performing arts magnet school on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte. Many had rallied behind the principal in recent days when word spread that Bowe was being forced from his job in connection with a December incident in which someone pointed a gun at a student after a dance. Parents said Bowe faced discipline because of allegations that security was insufficient. Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said there had been "no final determination" about whether Bowe would lose his job over the dance incident. But Hattabaugh said that late last week, Bowe had been told his options included resignation, retirement or "due process." Bowe told CMS officials that he wanted time to think, Hattabaugh said. Grief counselors were sent to Northwest on Tuesday, and will remain at the school all week. Students wore black to school in memory of Bowe. "Dr. Bowe's death will be a profound loss, particularly to the children whom he took under his wing," Ginny Brien, president of the Friends of Northwest School of the Arts wrote online. "I can hear his voice ringing in my ears - 'I love my kids.' " A native of West Virginia, Bowe arrived at Northwest in 2008; he'd been principal of an arts magnet school in his home state. Linda Kiser, a former CMS administrator who helped hire Bowe, said his background in arts education and ability to help students with special needs made Bowe stand out among other applicants. Bowe had degrees in music and photography, along with a doctorate in education administration, according to his resume. 'Unbelievably dedicated' Kiser said Bowe was "unbelievably dedicated" and fought hard for Northwest. She said Bowe wanted to make the school strong academically as well as artistically. She said he worked hard to enroll students who had a talent in the arts. The school serves students in grades six to 12. Kimberly Helms' daughter started at Northwest before longtime principal Charles LaBorde retired three years ago. Helms said she was worried that no one would be able to replace LaBorde. But she said Bowe had a great impact on the school. Helms' daughter has some learning disabilities, including having problems with writing. She said Bowe worked with CMS officials to allow her daughter to use an iPad for her coursework. She is doing better this school year. For his efforts at Northwest, Bowe was honored in October with a Friends of the Arts Award for School Administration from the N.C. Art Education Association. In recent days, however, word spread among Northwest parents that Bowe's job was in jeopardy. They tried to rally support for Bowe via Facebook and other means Sunday and Monday after word began to spread that Bowe was given the choice to either resign or be fired by the district. Security issues at dance Parents said they believed the action stemmed from a Dec. 17 incident at the school, when someone allegedly pointed a gun at a teen outside the school after a dance. Some students said no security personnel oversaw the dance. CMS normally requires security personnel at such events. The school system has said it was investigating the incident. Hattabaugh said Bowe was told to follow up with employee relations on Monday. When he did not respond, Hattabaugh sent Bud Cesena, chief of CMS police, to Bowe's home. Cesena contacted Huntersville police. "I can tell you unequivocally no final determination had been made," Hattabaugh said, calling Bowe's death "very unfortunate, very tragic." On Tuesday, Hattabaugh appointed Mark Bosco, a former Northwest administrator and teacher who now works in the northeast administrative zone, as interim leader at Northwest.