Middle School Principal Resigns

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Rim Country Middle School principal Frank Larby announced yesterday in an e-mail to teachers that he has turned in a letter of resignation to school district superintendent Herb Weissenfels.

Because he has a year remaining on his contract, Larby must receive the school board's OK before stepping down.

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Rim Country Middle School principal Frank Larby

In past years, receiving permission from the board to break teaching or administrative contracts has usually been a formality, Weissenfels said. He said he saw no reason for the board not to grant Larby his wishes.

Larby's resignation has been added to the May 2 school board agenda.

Weissenfels also said, "I am happy for him and I hope he makes good use of all his experiences here."

In a public statement following his resignation, Larby said, "I would like to express my appreciation to the patrons of the Rim country for the opportunity to work with their children.

"I feel fortunate to have been able to work with those positive individuals who shared my concerns and goals for our youth"

Larby's seven-year tenure at RCMS was sometimes marred by controversy, but on other occasions highlighted by academic accomplishments.

In the past two school years, RCMS has been one of only two "highly performing" schools in Gila County and also developed a strong reputation for its use of technology.

Larby also points to the school's improved remediation and fine arts programs as goals he was able to achieve.

"I have been most pleased (those programs) have helped enrich our children's education," he said.

Among the controversy involving the administrator was his February 2004 five-day suspensions of science teacher Gloria Joe, counselor Ginger Sparks and English teacher Louis Crabtree

Joe and Sparks were placed on leave for remarks that were critical of the coming year's schedule at a faculty meeting. In the letter given to Joe, Larby wrote, "It is alleged that you have engaged in the harassment of other staff members (your supervisor), unprofessional conduct, demonstrating improper attitudes and insubordination towards the administration." Joe, now retired and a 25-year RCMS teacher, questioned the timing of the suspension.

"What I am upset about is that now my kids will have five days of a (substitute) instead of doing what I wanted them to do, and they're not getting as good of an education as they would have," she said.

Sparks was exonerated a week later, Crabtree agreed to write a letter of apology for critical remarks he made and Joe was given a one-day suspension with pay.

Prior to the suspensions, Larby was targeted by at least three grievances filed by RCMS teachers including Joe, Sparks and Crabtree.

At a March 2005 school board meeting, Ellen Farmham -- who has a son attending RCMS -- addressed the board about concerns she had with the school.

After questioning why several RCMS teachers had resigned and claiming "almost 25 percent of the teaching staff will have been replaced within the school year," Farmham asked the board to step in.

"I implore the board to investigate the issues I have raised tonight in such a way that reconciliation will ultimately be achieved."

Larby's resignation, if accepted by the school board, will be effective June 30.

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