2 District 60 principals unexpectedly resign

Bessemer, Risley schools in Pueblo affected

Two school principals resign in Pueblo

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - Two District 60 principals in Pueblo have suddenly resigned while their schools are facing state sanctions due to low performance.

Connie Parker, of Bessemer Academy, an elementary school, and Drew Cleveland, of Risley International Academy of Innovation, a middle school, have officially resigned. 

It was unexpected considering neither mentioned possibly leaving the schools during the Board of Education meeting in April. 

"Drew is the best principal this school has had in a while," said Gwen Halstead, who has two kids at Risley.  "I just saw him a few minutes ago.  He didn't say anything about it."

Her husband, Russell Halstead, blames the school board for the resignations.

"The schools are overcrowded," he said.  "The teachers are overworked and they get the blame.  Even the principals get the blame.  I don't think new principals will make things any better."

Some Bessemer parents implied that low academic achievement wasn't the only factor in Parker's resignation.

"She had zero tolerance for bullying, which my son had a problem with last year," said Audra Jo Stewart.

But Manuel Delao disputes that.

"My son got bullied a lot here and (Parker) didn't seem to do anything about it," he said.  "So I'm kind of glad she resigned.  But my son won't be back here in the fall, and my daughter won't start kindergarten here, either."

The resignations were not revealed until KRDO NewsChannel 13's partner, the Pueblo Chieftain, filed a request for information through the Colorado Open Records Act.

The district provided little information in its statement released Tuesday afternoon: 

"As with all personnel matters, we are unable to provide comment regarding the resignations of the
principals at Risley and Bessemer.  We thank them for their leadership and are committed to moving
forward at these schools and as a district," said Dalton Sprouse, a district spokesman.

Cleveland declined comment Tuesday and Parker was unavailable for comment.

Bessemer and Risely are two of the three schools that have been up for discussion for improvement after they received low performance scores. 

The third school that was being talked about was Heroes K-8, but with the help of the public, it is safe for another year.

READ MORE: Three District 60 schools facing state intervention

For more on this story, visit the Pueblo Chieftain's website

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