FARMINGTON — Animas Elementary School's principal and lead teacher will not be returning to the school after being put on leave in November.
Principal Anna Delay has resigned from her position and Lead Teacher Pam Schritter will be relocated to another Farmington school, Farmington Municipal Schools Superintendent Janel Ryan confirmed Friday in a phone interview. The school Schritter will be sent to has not been finalized, she said. A lead teacher does not have classes but assists the principal. Parents of students have been making allegations about questionable behavior by the principal since the beginning of the school year.
"What we were trying to do at Animas was not a good fit for the leadership that was there," Ryan said.
A letter sent home to parents of Animas students from Ryan Thursday night said Delay and Schritter will not be returning to the school after winter break and a new principal will start in January 2014.
Ryan said she believes the students, parents and staff of Animas can work together to move forward to improve achievement at the school.
"Moving forward and starting over can be a joyful journey and meet with great success," Ryan said in the letter. "I believe we can assist our students in raising their Language, Reading and Math scores and be a Blue Ribbon School in the process."
According to parents of students at the school, Delay and Schritter were put on leave in mid-November.
Farmington schools gifted student coordinator Emily Foose will be the Animas principal when school begins after winter break.
Ryan said Foose has proven herself as a gifted student coordinator and was interested in an elementary principal position if one was available.
Gary Jackson has been Animas' interim principal since Delay and Schritter were put on leave.
Jackson, the principal at Ladera Elementary School last school year, wrote a letter to parents in November that said Delay and Schritter were going to be away from the building for a time and Jackson would be serving as the substitute.
Jackson's letter was provided to The Daily Times by a parent of an Animas student.
Animas Parent Teacher Organization President Elizabeth Tehran said Delay stopped her from organizing a food drive for the community and tried to shut down the PTO.
Efforts to reach Delay for comment were unsuccessful.
Tehran said she would like to know why Delay resigned from the school and believes the letter Ryan wrote to parents was to quell questions about Delay's behavior.
"I thought it was a cop out," Tehran said. "For most of us, we had already known something was going on. It was just a letter to pacify us."
Delay started as principal of Animas at the beginning of the current 2013-2014 school year.
A number of parents have raised concerns about Delay's behavior and what they said were confusing changes she made at the school.
Melissa Bair, mother of a second-grade student, said she was upset she was not allowed in the school building to talk to her son's teacher.
Bair said she was not allowed beyond the front office and if she wanted to talk to a teacher, she would have to make an appointment with the teacher and have Delay approve the meeting.
"I've been in and out of the school for six years and welcomed with open arms," Bair said. "When someone tells me, you have to make an appointment to talk to a teacher before school and have it OK'd by the principal, it's hurting everyone."
When the group tried to meet at the school at the beginning of the fall semester, Bair said Delay wouldn't allow the meeting until certain paperwork was completed.
Parent Jessica Heras said she also has had issues attempting to speak to her son's teacher and not being allowed beyond the front office by Delay.
"It's a pretty somber place for an elementary school," Heras said.
Tehran, Bair and Heras all said they were upset with what they described as Delay's rude attitude toward them and her refusal to respond to requests for a meeting.
Parent Melinda Ruiz, whose second-grade son attends the school, said she was relieved to hear there was going to be a new principal.
"I feel better now taking him into school, now he won't be in that environment," Ruiz said. "It was real hostile in the school, it wasn't a good atmosphere for him."