Principal’s file reveals legitimate complaints, but no ‘smoking gun’

Feather Publishing
5/23/2013

  Quincy High School’s energetic and outspoken principal admits that she sometimes strays from the mainstream when it comes to doing what she thinks is best for her school.

  Dr. Sue Segura’s often unconventional approach to her job has endeared her to many teachers, students and parents. That is clearly apparent by the outpouring of support she has received the past two months.

  But her style doesn’t sit well with everyone — including some of her bosses at Plumas Unified School District. Segura is the first to admit that she isn’t perfect. And the proof can be found in her personnel file, which includes several complaints and a stern letter of reprimand from the superintendent for her inappropriate choice of words with a student.

  As promised, the school district hand-delivered a copy of Segura’s personnel file to Feather Publishing on May 10. We requested the file after Segura was essentially fired March 7. Officially, she wasn’t offered a contract for the 2013-14 school year after a “no confidence” vote by the school board.

  The board and superintendent declined to explain their decision despite the community’s overwhelming show of support for Segura. The information gap in this case was so glaring that Feather Publishing felt compelled to petition the school district for a copy of the file. We believed the public’s right to know trumped a public employee’s right to privacy. To the school district’s credit, it agreed.

  We didn’t request Segura’s complete file, just copies of any complaints or disciplinary actions. The district assured us the file also contained commendations and other documents complimentary of the principal.

  We assumed, like many others in the community, that Segura’s file might contain a potentially career-ending infraction. At the very least, it might explain the reason for the “no confidence” decision.

  The 86 pages we received did include some legitimate complaints from parents regarding how the school handled incidents with their kids. The file included incidents of Segura not following district policy.

  What the file did not include were any names of parents, teachers or students. The district painstakingly blacked out all of that information. It was a very sensitive and time-consuming job. We commend the district for taking the time to redact that information while still providing us with readable documents that included the necessary information. For our part, Feather Publishing decided not to publish details included in the file. Many of the incidents have already been discussed in a public forum.

  But what the file also lacked was the so-called “smoking gun.” We couldn’t find an infraction that, on its own, merited Segura losing her job.

  After further review, the school board came to the same conclusion last month. The district is expected to offer Segura a conditional contract next year. She should be receiving that one-year contract along with the county’s other school principals in June.

  Segura is reportedly scheduled to meet Superintendent Micheline Miglis for a closed-door one-on-one session at the end of the month. The “conditions” attached to Segura’s contract will probably be one of the topics on the table.

  We hope another topic will be communication. Our school district is small enough that our principals and superintendent should all be on a first-name basis. They should be able to put personal issues aside and call each other anytime to discuss problems before they get out of hand.

            The past two months have been stressful for Segura, Miglis, the school board and many of the students at Quincy High. Hopefully, the lessons learned can be applied going forwar


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