School Board Votes to Officially Terminate High School Principal

davis-high-schoolThe Davis Joint Unified School Board met in closed session on Thursday evening to decide the fate of two district employees.  School Board President Sheila Allen announced at the beginning of open session Thursday, “In a unanimous vote, the board took action in closed session to send a notice of release and reassignment which the reassignment goes into effect on July 1, 2013, to two administrative employees in resolution number… 3313.”

A source confirmed that there were only two district administrative employees on the agenda, which means that the board has voted unanimously to terminate Jacqui Moore as the Davis High School Principal effective July 1, 2013.

The source did not know who the second administrative employee was, and the district could not comment as this was an administrative matter.

On Sunday, the Davis Enterprise reported that Davis High Principal Jacqui Moore told the paper she will not be returning as principal in the fall, citing “philosophical differences” between herself and the school board, but she declined to elaborate further than that.

Board President Sheila Allen told the paper, “There is no current plan to release any classified or certificated employee before the end of the school year, and the administration is bringing forward an annual review of administrators at this Thursday’s board meeting. If there is a decision, there will be a public announcement at that time.”

Ms. Moore originally believed that she was already terminated and terminated immediately.

The Vanguard received a message on Saturday which indicated, “Dr. Jacqui Moore has been informed that she will face a Board vote in closed session Thursday night to remove her from her post as DHS principal and place her, as of Friday, as a teacher in a classroom.”

However, the Vanguard later learned that Ms. Moore had misinterpreted that letter.  Ms. Moore, according to the board policy, will receive a written letter of termination.  It is not clear if she is merely out of the job as principal or whether she will be reassigned.

A board member directed the Vanguard to board policy on the termination and reassignment of administrators.  According to board policy, AR 4313.2, “By March 15, an employee shall be notified by either registered mail or in person that he/she may be released or reassigned from his/her position for the following school year. If the notice is presented to the employee in person, the district shall obtain his/her signature acknowledging receipt of the notice on the district’s copy of the written notice.”

The policy continues, “If the March 15 notice indicates that release or reassignment is only a possibility, the Board of Education shall take additional action to release/reassign the employee before the new school year and shall send the employee a second notice by June 30 indicating that he/she has been released or reassigned.”

Finally, “If the employee is to be released or reassigned to a teaching position, the Board shall give the employee, upon his/her request, a written statement of the reasons for the release/reassignment. If the reasons include incompetence as an administrator or supervisor, the district shall have completed an evaluation of the employee within the 60-day period immediately preceding the notice date.”

There was a good deal of confusion as to what happened.  In a statement from Jacqui Moore last Sunday that the Vanguard received via email, she said, “” I was informed that the board was going to let me go; now I have been told that that may not happen. Everything depends on what happens in the closed session at the Board meeting on Thursday.”

Ms. Moore came to Davis as the Davis High School Principal in August, 2010.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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18 Comments

  1. David M. Greenwald

    Only heard rumors. I was talking with the Bee reporter last night, the problem is that you have personnel laws to protect personnel from being maligned, but it ends up protecting public agencies from decisions that they make and make it impossible for the media and others to monitor what is going on.

  2. Ryan Kelly

    Even Dr. Moore acknowledged that there were “philosophical differences” between her and the Board. Thank goodness the Board moved fast to terminate her employment, rather than have a public discussion on “philosophy.” The Board is presented with all sorts of confidential situations regarding discipline of students, staff, and teachers. I’m certain that Dr. Moore pushed for something more than once that the Board was not comfortable with.

    Let’s hire someone that doesn’t feel the need to have “Dr.” at the beginning of their name (even if they have a Ph.D.) In this community of highly educated people, let’s drop the pretentiousness.

  3. Hmmmm...

    I have interacted with Dr. Moore on multiple occaisions and found her ethical, professional, humble, and student-centered. This is a sad day for DSHS.

  4. JustSaying

    Not sure i understand the Bee reporter’s point. The agencies’ decisions are public, only the specific personnel reasons behind the decisions are protected from public exposure by the agencies. The agencies are not protected from the decisions they make–all kinds of laws make them accountable for their actions and the way the decisions are made.

    It’s not “impossible for the media and others to monitor what is going on” at all. Most of what’s going on is being reported. Reporters follow up on the rumors they’ve heard and report the rumors themselves. Reporters also get cooperation from “protected” employees if something untoward is happening, including providing copies of documents that agencies are not allowed produce because of privacy laws.

    Tell the Bee reporter to get off his or her butt and get the story–if there’s really anything going on here that needs to be reported. In this case, there are leakers all over the place (including Dr. Moore)–that should make the job relatively easy.

  5. dlemongello

    2 things:
    I would think in most situations as these, there will be people who have had good and people who have had problematic experiences with the relevant person. If not, it is more cut and dried, but this some-of-each situation always makes it harder to know what is fair.
    As for using Dr., it is simply the person’s title, I do not find it pretentious. Do you suggest a first name basis, or Ms., the latter being incorrect if the person is indeed a Dr.

  6. JimmysDaughter

    Agree w/ Ryan Kelly, it’s a tad pretentious. People are people & don’t need fancy titles. IMHO. If more formal title desired, Mr. Ms. or Mrs. works just fine. Many people spend 8 or 9 yrs with their formal education without the need for a special title, or special capitol letters after their names.

  7. medwoman

    I think that context is everything.
    The use of the title doctor in a hospital so that the patient is clear and can distinguish the roles of their various caregivers, completely appropriate.
    Use at an informal gathering when introduced by first and last names by saying “Call me Dr. Jones” completely inappropriate.
    Most uses in between are in the eye of the beholder. I have met a few doctors of all types who are very attached to the use of their title. But I have met many, many more people who assume that doctors must be very attached to their title.

  8. SouthofDavis

    JimmysDaughter wrote:

    > Agree w/ Ryan Kelly, it’s a tad pretentious.

    I have never met “Dr. Moore” and I don’t have a problem with MDs using “Dr.” but over the years every (non MD) that puts Dr. in front of their name that I have met has been a pretentious person that I never wanted to have anything to do with ever again…

  9. Mark West

    Medwoman: “[i]I think that context is everything.
    The use of the title doctor in a hospital so that the patient is clear and can distinguish the roles of their various caregivers, completely appropriate.
    Use at an informal gathering when introduced by first and last names by saying “Call me Dr. Jones” completely inappropriate.[/i]”

    To me it is a matter of respect. Were I to meet Medwoman for example, I would refer to her has Dr. Medwoman until she told me otherwise, and I would teach my children to call her Dr. Medwoman unless she told them to use a different means of addressing her. She has earned the title, and deserves to be addressed that way. Now if I’ve met her and she says, ‘call me Dr. Medwoman’ I would probably walk away and never speak to her again because she would be someone that was too pretentious for me to want to be associate with. In other words, I will use her title as a matter of respect, but if she tells me to use her title, I will most likely have nothing to do with her.

  10. isalim

    It is sort of telling when speculation about why someone was terminated focuses on their use of an honorary title! But on that, I will say that I was skeptical about her use of it for similar reasons (not about her efficacy) but found that it played well with our students, as it suggested a strong sense of her role, and a huge respect and valuing of education. So, I grew to see that acknowledging the degree in her formal title (none of us called her that in person) was a good thing.

    That said, it is true that when a decision like this is made and it’s not cut and dry, many questions will arise. While the Board has the legal right to make such a decision without broad input from all constituencies, any formal evaluation (which there has not been), and to do so behind closed doors without disclosing their reasons, I don’t believe that is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of specific board members being upset with her refusing to do their bidding for issues that absolutely should be left to the jurisdiction of the principal, that it’s very very hard for me to fathom that the bulk of this decision was not person, and not political, as opposed to a decision based in evidence suggesting that Jacqui Moore was having an adverse effect on students, achievement, and a vision for the school. The sad part is that the majority of staff (several of her staff tried to informally count whom we’ve talked to, and while be believe it is a majority, we’re not sure by how much, and we don’t have as survey to prove it), the leaders of the PTA and, again, we believe, the majority of the students have a very positive view of her. I have to wonder, what kind of wisdom or knowledge does a Board think it has that would trump all of these other stakeholders’ views, and, if they believe those stakeholders’ views are being misrepresented, why haven’t they done anything to prove that? I have been outspoken in support of Jacqui, and I would work with/for her again in a second, but even I would bow to the documented evidence that she was not serving students, parents, and staff universally well. Without that evidence, and with informal data to the contrary, I simply don’t believe it. Many districts have policies that require transparent evaluations of top administrators. While decisions are still closed-doors, the evaluations can be shared. This kind of process keeps Boards in check, from allowing their own agendas to dictate school board policy. However, we’re not the only district with issues like this. Ultimately, I think that school boards are anachronistic entities that were needed in an agrarian society, when local governance was necessary. Today, when we are looking at developing standards that meet the needs of the 21st century, and are nation-wide, it’s difficult to see how elected officials, usually lacking background in education, are really the best suited to endow with the power to decide the direction of any local school system. While I will continue to advocate for responsible and transparent decision-making processes that do not cater to the whim of the public, my first choice would be to see this antiquated system go the way of the dinosaurs.

  11. wdf1

    isalim: [i] Ultimately, I think that school boards are anachronistic entities that were needed in an agrarian society, when local governance was necessary. Today, when we are looking at developing standards that meet the needs of the 21st century, and are nation-wide, it’s difficult to see how elected officials, usually lacking background in education, are really the best suited to endow with the power to decide the direction of any local school system. While I will continue to advocate for responsible and transparent decision-making processes that do not cater to the whim of the public, my first choice would be to see this antiquated system go the way of the dinosaurs.[/i]

    I, too, suggest you re-think this comment. Please tell me you were just venting. While you could make an excellent case for adopting better measures for transparency and accountability on issues like this, to say that “school boards are anachronistic entities” without further clarification or discussion of reasonable alternatives is akin to implying, in a blanket manner, that the voters (myself included) are just too ignorant to know how to give appropriate input to running a public school system or to spend their own tax dollars. Public education happens to be the number one industry of our community, and a supermajority (66.6%+) of voters have enough confidence and pride in the local schools to pass school parcel taxes, when targeted for positions and programs that the local community supports.

    When the state and/or federal government passes down education policy or funding that is locally unacceptable, what other recourse would we have without a locally-elected school board? Perhaps it is time to revisit the quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

  12. Davis Teacher

    If this decision was really so unpopular…where’s the outrage? The Enterprise says four teachers showed up at a meeting to complain about it…and that’s after a flyer went into every mailbox at Davis High calling for people to show up in support of Dr. Moore (I have no problem with the honorary title!). This is Davis! If there was widespread anger, we would have seen: letters/comments from PTA officers, a long line at public comment at the school board meeting, and maybe even student protests. Instead…the silence is deafening.

    Consider that maybe, just maybe, there is instead great relief that a decision has been made and that Davis High can move on in a more fruitful fashion.

    And perhaps the Vanguard and the Enterprise should stop trying to stir up a tempest in a teapot by returning to the same singular voices that have no visible support.

  13. jimt

    I’ll entrust a local official over diktats from the feds anytime.
    Many reasons for this; one of the chief of which is a counterbalance to the increasing centralization of power/control in our society.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    “And perhaps the Vanguard and the Enterprise should stop trying to stir up a tempest in a teapot by returning to the same singular voices that have no visible support.”

    I don’t think either myself or Jeff Hudson were attempting to do anything. Last Sunday, I awoke to read the Davis Enterprise article on the termination of the Principal and received an email from a teacher that was concerned about what and how it transpired. After consideration I ran the story. It turned out to be premature and we had to run a correction and then we naturally had to run an additional story on the termination.

    I have not run a commentary on the issue – which should be an indication to you that we were simply trying to get the facts out rather than stir anything up.

    Unless something new develops, I suspect this is about it for this story.

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