#schoolsafety | Thomas Jefferson Middle School interim principal meets parents, addresses concerns

MADISON, Wis.– Parents are feeling hopeful after meeting with the new interim principal at Thomas Jefferson Middle School on Thursday.

Interim Principal Mary Kelley started on Monday, after Principal Tequila Kurth announced an extended leave of absence following multiple incidents that involved student safety.

When it comes to school safety, Kelley said she plans to be a visible principal and will ensure active supervision.

“I think being visible, as a principal, no matter was school it is, is absolutely critical because leadership matters,” Kelley said. “Getting to know kids, getting to know staff, getting to know family is a high priority in making the school successful.”

Going forward, Kelley said the administration will be transparent and keep the community informed on both positive and negative incidents.

Other initiatives include Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, which establishes, teaches and reinforces expected behavior.

In December, a student was accused of shooting two classmates with a BB gun while they were getting out of the bus. News 3 Now first reported that the accused student previously threatened to shoot up and “kill everyone” inside the school, according to district documents.

The new administration plans to make changes to the current schedule and structure to reduce unnecessary time gaps.

Parents who attended the meeting offered ideas on how to make the school a better place for students, both academically and socially. They stressed the importance of teacher retention.

“I think it went well,” Rachel Sauer, a parent, said. “I  think parents are excited and grateful that we are going to have an interim who knows Madison and knows the district.”

Kelley has served as principal of Black Hawk and Toki Middle Schools, and most recently East High School.

Parents said this discussion was a good step forward for the school as new leadership takes over, and hope that more open discussions will be scheduled during the remainder of the second semester.

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