LETTER

My name is Stephanie Davis. I am a 5th grade teacher at Pioneer. I’ve been a teacher in this district for 12 years and all 3 of my children attended Pioneer Elementary.

Although I’ve worked with several principals, all with different strengths, none of them were invested in our school the way Laurie is. She has poured her heart and soul into our school. She truly embodies what it means to put students first. What does that look like? Late hours, many special programs, shoveling snow, and even cleaning a toilet or two. It means speaking up to her superior in support of her students and teachers, even when it may not be popular to do so. It means traveling the tough road, because it’s the right road. It means standing up for what’s right when no one else seems to willing to. Putting students first means you say what needs to be said and you do what needs to be done. 

Could this be the reason you’re trying to get rid of her?

I’ve been racking my brain for an answer to why...why would this district fire such a phenomenal, beloved, veteran principal?

We know it isn’t about job performance. As you can see, she is truly loved and supported by the vast majority of parents, both past and present. Her staff is here tonight and every single one of us will stand behind her. She goes above and beyond on a daily basis. She forms lasting and meaningful relationships with our students. She is the best principal I’ve ever worked for. She is supportive - always - even when she disagrees with me. I never feel fearful or intimidated by her. She listens. She respects me as a person and a professional and in return I want to be the best teacher I can be. I want to make her proud, and if you know anything about management, productivity, and school culture, then you know that this is a good thing. Without a doubt, I am a better teacher because of Laurie Carson.

Why then would we let her go? Why would the district be willing to force out such an integral part of our school and community? What criteria was used for such a monumental decision and who was consulted? 

More importantly, who does this benefit? Certainly not the students, parents, teachers and staff! Who then? Who benefits...and why?

Is it the board? The district? Or could it be the superintendent? History has taught us that people who question the status quo or question a blossoming regime are ousted. Some leaders feel threatened by people who question them, but strong leaders feel empowered by the skeptics. Strong leaders recognize the value of these people and embrace them, for these are the people who will keep them honest. 

You, the board, are supposed to be the balance of power. I hope you ask the tough questions before you vote on this. Be skeptical! If the answer is vague or doesn’t make sense then ask MORE questions! Seek the truth!

I stand before you tonight and I am nervous...I am fearful. I am a single mother with one income. I have 3 children (one in college and 2 more will be soon enough) and I wonder, have I just placed a target on my back? Am I next now that I won’t fall into line, keep my mouth shut, and lower my head? Is this how ALL of our principals are feeling? Is this the kind of district that WE envisioned for Amador County? 

What kind of role model would I be for my students, my own children for that matter, if I didn’t fight for what’s right? 

I am here tonight to say:

This is wrong! Laurie Carson is an amazing principal, we know it, our students and parents know it, the community knows it, why don’t you? 

This action by our district and its leader is a clear indication of where their priorities lay. It speaks volumes that, despite the chaos and upheaval it will cause everyone at our school - most importantly our students, they are willing to do it anyway. Why? Who benefits? 

Editor’s Note: This was submitted as a letter, but the comments are originally from an address to the school board at its March 13 meeting.