Tracy Perkins, principal of Cypress Lake High resigned Monday, July 14.(Photo: Dave Breitenstein/The News-Press)
School board member Mary Fischer said she plans to investigate the circumstances that led to a popular principal's sudden resignation.
The community has been buzzing with speculation after Tracy Perkins, who served as Cypress Lake principal for 11 years, resigned Monday. Her last day on the job was Thursday.
Fischer said she was not sure if the school board would conduct the investigation as a group or individually, but said it was clear something had to be done.
"We don't get involved with personnel matters, but when it becomes so visible in the community and there is so much public interest in it, then we get involved, " Fischer said.
Perkins' personnel file was almost spotless until last November, when she was written up for five incidents by Jeff Spiro, Lee County executive director of school development. In the three-page memo, Spiro criticized Perkins for a melee at Cypress and another incident involving the Dunbar football team last October.
Spiro's memo also cited Perkins' alleged weak leadership and lack of commitment to her school, which he said was demonstrated by her decision to take two vacation days before Thanksgiving.
In an extremely detailed 14-page rebuttal to Spiro's reprimand dated Nov. 20 of last year, Perkins claimed the disciplinary reprimand was "an attack on my leadership that is unsubstantiated and unfairly represented."
Perkins realized she was the target of Spiro and Superintendent Graham's "witch hunt" at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, according to the rebuttal. She noted Spiro called her "insubordinate" because her staff did not answer the phones with the greeting: "It's a great day at Cypress Lake High School, " something Graham prefers.
"I have worked in the district for 19 years with a close to impeccable professional record, " Perkins wrote in the rebuttal. "I will no longer sit idly by and be persecuted and discriminated against for no reason."
Graham, Spiro and district spokeswoman Amity Chandler have declined requests for comment. Though Perkins said her November rebuttal was excluded from the personnel file obtained by the News-Press, the district said they never had the document on file prior to Friday.
Fischer and fellow board member Don Armstrong said they believe Graham should release a statement about the controversy. The other three school board members did not return calls Friday.
"It's really frustrating because my hands are tied, " Armstrong said. "The only person that it falls on is Dr. Graham."
Fischer said the board would do what it could to get answers.
"We want to make sure we are transparent in the district and that the community is privy to the goings-on of the district, " Fischer said. "That's the job of the school board, to make sure the interests of the public are being heard."