School district reassigns elementary principals |

School district reassigns elementary principals

by Linda Hiller

Former Jacks Valley Elementary School principal Kirk Cunningham, who was removed from his position last month due to excessive sick day absences, will be serving as “principal on special assignment” at Gardnerville Elementary School for the next school year.

Superintendent Pendery Clark said Cunningham and current GES principal Dick Brownfield will share administrative duties not yet established as of Tuesday. GES vice principal Jan Sullivan is leaving for another administrative position out of the area.

Clark said Cunningham will continue at his current estimated $71,000 salary.

“We looked for a solution to enable Jacks Valley Elementary School to have a full-time administrator, and at the same time to give Kirk a chance to get on top of his health issues,” Clark said. “We feel this is the most compassionate solution for everyone concerned.”

Cunningham said Tuesday returning to GES after a 22-year absence will be a welcome challenge.

“I started at GES 22 years ago, so this will be kind of like going back home,” he said. “A lot of the teachers there I was instrumental in hiring, so it will be good to work with them again.”

In the past, when Cunningham had “principal questions,” it was Brownfield to whom he turned for answers.

“Dick is maybe the only principal who has been here longer than me,” Cunningham said. “I think it would have been hard for me to pair up with a rookie. Dick is a wonderfully competent man and a great administrator. I look forward to working with him.”

Cunningham said he sees this next year as a time to try and improve his health and at the same time rise to the challenge of working in a different school.

“I will miss the children, teachers and parents at Jacks Valley and hope to get back there,” he said. “I feel I am leaving the school in good shape, but I don’t see this next year at GES as a vacation. I want to do a great job there and contribute to that school.”

Cunningham has struggled with high blood pressure and blood clots over the past three years. He missed an increasing number of school days, culminating with approximately 70 of his contracted 210-day requirement last year, and his eventual removal from JVES.

“Our district position is that every school needs a full-time principal and we felt we had no other choice,” Clark said of Cunningham’s reassignment. She added that if, after his year at GES, Cunningham is able to improve his health and reduce his sickday absences, the position of principal at JVES would be his for the following year.

Pam Gilmartin, currently the vice principal at Scarselli Elementary School, will be principal at JVES for the next school year, Clark said. Gilmartin formerly taught at JVES and served as vice principal there for her first year in administration.

Brian Frazier, current vice principal at Meneley Elementary School, will fill the vacancy left by principal Pauline Moley’s departure for the next year.

The current administrative reorganization leaves two vice principal positions vacant.

Cunningham said that in spite of the satisfactory appointment as principal on special assignment at GES, he hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit.

“This has nothing to do with Pendery or the school board – it is nothing personal,” he said. “I just have to fight for my rights and they have to fight for theirs. Meanwhile, while I’m at Gardnerville, I don’t look at it as a vacation. I want it to be a good year. It’s funny, I’ve been feeling a lot better.”

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