opened the Choir Director position up for applications this week as they prepare to begin the search to replace Ellen Bowen.
and . Her leave began shortly before the end of the school year after a student filed a police report stating she struck him in the head with a cell phone after catching him using it in class.
Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Jon Dean, who handles Human Resources issues, sent a letter to parents Wednesday asking for those who wish to help in the search to contact South Principal Matt Outlaw.
In the letter, Dean addressses Bowen's suspension and impending request for termination: "While I recognize that the recent challenges regarding the removal of the previous director have been difficult for everyone, I believe that this selection process can be a positive step forward that will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to embrace the new leader of our South vocal music program."
Applications for the job will be open through July 27, according to the letter. On July 30, Dean and South Principal Matt Outlaw will establish a selection process, during which they want to include parents, students and other stakeholders who wish to be part of the process.
They are encouraged to email Outlaw to express their interest by July 25.
Bowen's suspension has drawn strong reaction from the community. There is support for Bowen, much of which emphasizes her success with the choir; and then there is equally strong opposition from those who believe her behavior is unacceptable regardless of her success.
. Bowen has a lengthy history within the district of conduct with students that many believe has been unprofessional, problematic and even a risk to students.
District Superintendent Tom Harwood announced the administration's decision to seek termination of Bowen following criticism from the community about the differences between how Bowen's situation has been handled as compared to that of .
Teacher tenure is the biggest difference between the two cases. Bowen has it, which entitles her to a much more significant process in termination while Cross was not yet tenured with the district and considered a probationary employee. As such, he is not afforded as many protections.
Thus far, Bowen has gone before the school board twice related to the cell phone suspension. She requested both meetings be closed to the public, which is her right as a tenured teacher. The board has not made any formal decision as a result of either meeting, however if they had, it would be public record even though the meetings were closed.