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‘Your silence is deafening’: Penn-Trafford School parents demand answers following principal shakeup

In World
June 11, 2024

When Carly Bouch’s 9-year-old daughter Lillie goes back to school in the fall, it’ll be with a new principal. The change isn’t sitting right with the incoming fourth grader.

Lillie addressed school board members and the superintendent during a meeting Monday night.

“We don’t deserve this,” she said. “This is simply heartbreaking. You are making this really hard for us. Please make all of this stop.”

Lillie’s school, Trafford Elementary, is part of a shake-up of principals within the Penn-Trafford School District.

“This is ridiculous,” Lillie Bouch said. “Why are you doing this? You are hurting all of us.”

Parents were emailed a letter on April 16 letting them know about the plan. At the start of the upcoming school year, five principals will be moved to other elementary schools.

Since April, parents said they’ve been pushing for answers and have been left in the dark.

“They have not been upfront with us with why these changes were made, why they were necessary to be made in the first place,” said Karyn Frye who has two children in the school district.

Frustrations from several parents boiled over during the school board meeting.

“We’ve asked questions after questions after questions,” one parent said. “We come here and it’s radio silence.”

Frye told board members she’s been emailing administrators for weeks looking for more transparency.

“We’re still waiting for answers,” Frye said. “Your silence is deafening.”

Channel 11′s Antoinette DelBel reached out to Superintendent Matt Harris to find out the specific reason for the move. He said he wasn’t available and pointed her back to the letter, which said the principal changes will foster a better learning environment for students by addressing each school’s challenges.

The letter called the move “strategic,” saying, “A principal shift introduces fresh leadership perspectives, promising to invigorate curriculum development, extracurricular engagement, and community interaction.”

Both parents and students argue it will disrupt learning and routines.

“I think that the principals should have their own decision on whether to move schools or not,” said Ella Frye, 10, who is going into the fifth grade at Harrison Park Elementary.

Parent Carly Bouch is one of 200 parents who signed a petition to stop the shakeup.

“Stop trying to fix a system that’s not broken,” Bouch said. “You are harming our children, our wonderful teachers and our dedicated principals.”

According to the letter, the leadership moves will likely happen every three to five years to get ahead of administration retirements.

Students will be able to meet their new principals over the summer.

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