Merton principal resigns amid board pressure, parents say

A Merton Community School District board meeting got heated Monday night, Jan. 30 following the announcement of a popular principal's resignation. Some parents and staff say the primary school principal is being pushed out by the school board.

Those parents and staff put a lot of blame on the board, saying Principal Becca Stein is beloved by students, and they believe she was forced out of her position not for professional reasons but for personal ones.

Inside the gymnasium at Merton Intermediate School, people packed the stands, demanding answers from the school board.

"I think school boards need to listen to families and listen to concerns, and I don’t know if they’ve done that," said Mary Bliesner. 

Becca Stein

Many in attendance wore blue and buttons supporting Principal Stein. On Jan. 17, the primary school principal announced her resignation.

"Principal Stein is, in my opinion, the heart of Merton Primary," said Amy Miller.

Miller, one of the parents standing behind the principal, started a petition. Through open records, she said she found three members of the board wanted Stein gone.

"The board did discuss the non-renewal of Stein’s contract, and the outcome was her resigning," said Miller.

In a letter to the school board, Stein did not offer a reason for her departure. She did say she was grateful for the opportunity to serve students and families.

"Becca Stein is the best educational leader I have ever worked with," said a staff member.

On Monday night, staff and parents addressed the board one by one, showing support.

"I think our staff and our community would tell you that we want Becca Stein as our principal," said a staff member.

Board members said they could not legally discuss reasons for her departure.

The people filling the seats said they will continue to stand up for what they believe is best for students.

Stein's resignation letter says she would be done July 1, finishing out the school year. 

Many parents asked the board if there was still a chance for the principal to stay next year. The superintendent said procedurally, a resignation can be rescinded by both parties.