Pioneer Elementary School Principal Casey McClure disputes a report that he forced the resignation of former parent club president Krystyna Rakow over a t-shirt supporting police and showcasing her patriotism for the American flag.
McClure issued a formal letter to the Pioneer Elementary School (City of Brentwood) community over the weekend after an article was published by the Delta Sun Times which included transcripts and exchange between McClure and Rakow—the source of the transcriptions was not identified.
McClure said he is trying to remain as neutral as possible on social issues. Which is resulting in some in the community making a lot of assumptions and accusations about his stance on police and the American Flag—both of which he said he supports.
“I know in my heart of hearts I wish it didn’t happen, but it (text message) was not directed at her and not directed at the parents club,” said McClure. “Our role is to be inviting and be inclusive to everyone while celebrating our diversity and fostering diversity.”
He called the Delta Sun Times story false and a constructed story.
“On any given day you can see lots of shirts with American flags or thin blue lines, but personally for me this was never about not supporting the police or American flag, that is for sure. It was always about being inclusive and neutral for everyone,” explained McClure.
The Delta Sun Times story stated McClure had asked Rakow to resign.
McClure said that was false. But instead that the parent club was about to lose as many as 5 volunteers right around the Fall Break timeline. After break, rather than lose the volunteers, Rakow resigned.
McClure said Monday, that he and Rakow had an understanding that they could talk about concerns to get on the same page, which was not a one-time conversation. He estimates they spoke about 3-4 times this school year before her resignation.
“Someone brought a concern to me and I was trying to address it at the time,” explained McClure who added it was a running theme, including a complaint over Rakow using a fake COVID Vaccine card which he addressed with her.
He also addressed the text message which stated: “I need for her to resign totally and completely…”
McClure admitted the text was sent by mistake to Rakow instead of a fellow supervisor. However, he says it was related to an actual personnel issue he was having at the time, and not about Rakow.
“I do understand that is an ugly coincidence,” said McClure, “But it was related to an actual personnel issue, not the parent club. It was a side conversation with a colleague.”
According to McClure, in a typical school year, multiple parent club board positions are available, but because of distance learning, fears over COVID-19, the school had every parent club board position available—they did outreach, people who were interested signed up and they selected their board.
Rakow, who was involved in the previous parents club, was the only holdover and was selected as president according to McClure.
He said the school’s role in a parent club is to help guide the parent clubs and to answer questions about items they are unsure of. Such as, tax files, bank statements and fundraisers—staff can help with fundraisers or volunteer to support special.
“Parent clubs govern themselves once they select a board, but they do have to follow school board policy,” explained McClure.
Superintendent Dana Eaton called the premises of the Delta Sun Times story wrong as principals do not fire and hire parent club board presidents or board members. He said once the board is set, its up to the parent club board to act within District bylaws.
He added McClure was getting complaints from all sides. As parents were complaining over various items, he was attempting to bring everyone together to get back to student issues and back to being a neutral organization for the school.
11:23 am UPDATE — Statement from Rakow
On Monday, Krystyna Rakow called this a dead issue and says someone who had her text messages leaked them to the Delta Sun Times. She also said before the Delta Sun Times could speak with her, a story was already out.
“Delta Sun Times contacted me on Thursday and before they spoke with me already had an article drafted and rally planned. It was clear the story was getting ran with or without me. I corrected some dates and spelling showed her my shirts and car and it ran and this just blew up into something I never wanted,” explained Rakow noting people told her to go to the press but she did not want to.
She also stated that McClure getting death threats is not okay and that this whole thing has gotten out of hand.
“I am not in the business of cancel culture,” said Rakow.
Here is a letter issued to the community by Principal McClure:
Dear Pioneer Elementary Community,
There have been a good deal of questions that have been raised following a misleading article that was recently published online. I was never contacted to give my side of the story, so I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few things with all of you.
As principal of a public elementary school, my core objective is providing a wonderful educational environment for all of our students. I am focused on fostering and maintaining an inclusive and positive school community. Our schools exist to promote the best learning environment and to focus on the critical matters at hand; including keeping the school open during a pandemic, establishing a safe and secure learning environment, fostering the social-emotional development of students, and ensure our children are equipped with the necessary skills for the next level of education.
The Pioneer Parents’ Club is a group of hard working volunteers that is managed by its own board and bylaws. The principal of a school does not have direct authority over the Parents Club as they are their own entity. I was asked by many Parents’ Club board members to help them deal with challenges they were having within their organization. Many parents were sharing that the Parents’ Club did not seem welcoming because of some political social media activity by the current president. I encouraged them to work together to find agreement and create a bylaw that they could all agree to. The entire Board met on 9/20 and all agreed to the following:
“All board members are expected to remain neutral on divisive issues when acting in an official board capacity and should refer questions and comments of that nature to school administration. Active board members must publicly conduct themselves as individuals (for example at a school board meeting) and not as representatives of the Parent’s Club or Parent’s Club board unless explicitly approved to do so in advance by both the board and school administrators.”
Following that meeting and agreement, the Board continued to hear concerns from other parents and again met together to try to resolve these issues in light of these bylaws. It was after that meeting that Ms. Rakow chose to resign. It was never at my direction and it was purely voluntary.
Throughout this effort, due to contentious and difficult relationships on the parents’ club board, along with concerns from our parent community, I met with Ms. Rakow and other Parents’ Club Board Members individually. Ms. Rakow has provided a great deal of positive service to our school community over the past several years and the intent of the conversation was to discuss how to resolve the concerns and bring the Parents’ Club back to working together harmoniously.
As the grandson of WWII veterans and with friends and family who have served with great distinction in our armed forces and law enforcement, it is false and greatly misrepresented to claim Ms. Rakow’s choice to resign from the Parents’ Club had anything to do with patriotism or partisanship. As principal, it would be highly inappropriate for me to ever consider any recourse for anyone who wore clothes with the American Flag or showing support for law enforcement. In fact, if you were to come on our campus, you would see students and staff wearing similar clothing every single day.
I have tremendous admiration for all members of our Pioneer Parents’ Club and the countless volunteer hours that they put in to support our students and school. While I am disappointed that so much has been misrepresented about myself and the Parents’ Club, I am hopeful that this will help pull us together even stronger. I will continue to provide any support to them that I can as we partner together to focus on our over 900 students. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Photo: Casey McClure Twitter Feed