LIBERTY, MO (KCTV) – A Missouri middle school principal is resigning in the wake of a boy with Asperger’s syndrome being brutally attacked at school.
Monday night Liberty Public Schools says their board of education granted Dan Weakley a personal leave of absence for the rest of the 2014-2015 school year, effective immediately. Weakley will then resign as principal at the end of the school year.
In a letter sent home to Liberty Middle School parents and guardians, Weakley said he was stepping down to allow the school less distraction. This came after the story of Blake Kitchen being punched and thrown to the ground by an older student in the school’s cafeteria got widespread local attention.
Many of you have likely read about a serious student incident that occurred at our school a few weeks ago. As part of that story, much focus has been on me as the building leader. In order to allow the school less distraction and continued focus on student learning I have asked the Board of Education to allow me to take a leave of absence for personal reasons. The Board of Education has granted that request.
It is with heavy heart that I also inform you that I have decided to resign as Principal of Liberty Middle School at the end of the school year. The District has assigned additional administrative help for my time of leave. I ask that you give them your full support. Please know that I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Liberty Middle students for the past 8 years. I will miss the daily interactions with students, staff and the greater Liberty Public Schools community.
Blake, 12, came back to school Monday after his 14-year-old attacker went away to juvenile detention.
“I can’t say I’m glad because it’s somebody’s livelihood,” said Blake’s mother, Destiny Kitchen, of hearing that the principal resigned.
Kitchen wasn’t celebrating the principal’s departure, but said it was the right thing to do.
“Where I work, if I’m not doing my job correctly, I shouldn’t be there,” she said.
Kitchen said last month about the attack on her son at the hands of a boy who’d been bullying his older brother. She had a letter she wrote a month before the attack complaining about the bully, but said nothing was done.
Blake ended up in the hospital for five days and still has some healing to do because of his skull fracture.
“Any kind of accidentally falling and any sort of head trauma could cause some serious damage and stuff so we’ve got to keep him from running and acting like a kid,” Kitchen said.
She said much good has already come from the publicity in the halls of Liberty Middle School. Her eighth-grade older son told her fellow students are now more supportive and sensitive.
“If they see someone picking on another child, Preston said that they’re going up to them and saying, ‘Hey you can’t act that way.’ Or, ‘You can’t talk to him that way,'” Kitchen said.
Weakley has worked in the school district for eight years. The school district also released a statement in support of him and the school.
“LPS would like to thank Mr. Weakley for his 8 years of service to the district. While we respect the decision made by Mr. Weakley, we also would ask that others respect his decision and allow he and his family privacy. We also echo his wish for the school community to support its students and staff with continued high levels of teaching and learning within the building for the remainder of this school year and beyond.”
Weakley did not want to comment on camera, and his replacement has not yet been named.
Another positive outcome from the attack is what it did to Blake’s high-school aged brother.
Andrew Kitchen started a petition to have the day of his brother’s beating designated as Bullying Awareness Day district wide. So far he’s received about 300 signatures, including one from state representative Nick King.
“I got people signing it all the time, asking me about it, 97.5 The Vibe, lot of support for it,” he said. “Hopefully I can just not only make this go our district, but other districts and other schools and other states.”
Andrew Kitchen said he’s still working out details for possible activities.