We, the parents, grandparents, friends, and students of Bennett Elementary School petition the Bellevue School District Superintendent, Superintendent's Cabinet, and School Board to remove Ms. Nicole Hepworth from her position as principal of Bennett Elementary School, effective immediately.
Since being appointed principal by the School Board on April 21, 2009, Ms. Hepworth has failed to communicate adequately with parents and the PTSA. In particular, her decisions about fifth-grade educational opportunities provided by the Islandwood School on Bainbridge Island have been ill-considered and they do not allow the students the best possible educational opportunities, nor do they respect the traditions of the school. Her communications with parents about these matters have caused a great deal of controversy, as her statements often do not agree with her actions.
She recently refused to allow an educational opportunity for the fifth grade students that was approved in the summer of 2010. The decision was announced only five days before the scheduled event, making rescheduling next to impossible and disrespecting the educational institution that was offering the class and Dean Drugge, the teacher at Bennett who was helping coordinate the lesson at our school.
In 2008-2009, Bennett Elementary fifth graders' science test scores were the second-best in the state. With the new MSP testing for the 2009-2010 school year, Bennett's fifth graders had a 82.7% pass rate, more than twice the statewide average of 34%, and much higher than the Bellevue School District average of 61.6%. These exemplary scores are partly a result of the efforts of this master teacher and the extraordinary science education our students get from the Islandwood experience. Ms. Hepworth must fully support all educational opportunities that help our students achieve at such a high level.
Parents at Bennett Elementary make extraordinary efforts to support the school through PTSA-led fundraising, volunteering, and event organization and attendance. Ms. Hepworth has not supported these efforts and continues to antagonize parents with last-minute decisions that go against the best interests of the students and Bennett traditions.
Her behavior undermines the school community in additional ways. She did not post teacher assignments several days before school started (as has been done for years) but instead made the assignments available only for a two-hour window the day before school started. This caused great anxiety among many students, especially some of the younger ones. She frequently responds to individual parent's concerns with form emails, and the information in those emails often does not agree with the facts. Finally, instead of partnering with Bennett's outstanding and experienced teachers, she has subjected them to increased monitoring and formal "warnings" while providing little information about the direction she wants to take the school. Teacher morale is suffering, and the students suffer as a result.
We the undersigned are demanding as taxpayers and citizens that concerns for our children will be met without resistance from the School Board. We also petition to remove Nicole Hepworth from Bennett Elementary School as principal based on her ongoing pattern of controversial and antagonistic behavior.