Stillwater Junior High principal John Fields resigns

The Stillwater Board of Education has accepted the resignation of Stillwater Junior High School principal John Fields effective March 1. Fields, who has been employed with the district since 1991, was involved in a physical altercation with a student at the junior high on Nov. 1. District officials have declined to discuss the incident, citing personnel and student confidentiality requirements. Photo provided

The resignation of Stillwater Junior High principal John Fields was the only item on the special meeting agenda for the Stillwater Board of Educations on Friday.

After spending more than two hours in executive session, the board members emerged and voted unanimously to accept Fields’ resignation effective March 1. A release from the school district said Fields had submitted his request for resignation earlier in the week.

Attorney for the school district, Karen L. Long, and SPS Technology Director Kevin Calvey also participated in at least a portion of the meeting.

Fields was placed on leave in early November, following an altercation with a student.

The district has never confirmed Fields as the administrator involved in the incident nor confirmed that he was placed on leave, citing the requirement to protect the confidentiality of personnel information.

But a teacher at Stillwater Junior High made a social media post on Nov. 20 that asked people to express support for Fields. She said he had been suspended pending an investigation.

Numerous other individuals also stated in public forums that Fields was the administrator in question and that he had been placed on leave.

Although some supporters encouraged others to contact school board members by phone and email to express their support, SPS superintendent Marc Moore and Board President Bob Graalman both declined to say whether they had received any input from the public, again citing the confidentiality of personnel information.

Moore said the matter could not have been addressed by speakers during school board meetings because district policy doesn’t allow public comment on personnel or personnel issues.

Following their decision Friday, school officials still declined to state whether Fields had been placed on leave or would continue on leave until his employment ends. They would not say whether he would be working within the district.

Long told the News Press that Fields will remain on the district payroll but will not return to Stillwater Junior High. He will not be given any other responsibilities pending his resignation, she said.

The Stillwater Police Department confirmed on Nov. 11 that it was investigating a physical confrontation that occurred between a Stillwater Junior High student and one of the school administrators as school was beginning on Nov. 1.

An incident report was filed and one of SPD’s school resource officers was conducting the investigation, including reviewing video, Capt. Kyle Gibbs said.

The investigation could be presented to the District Attorney once complete, he said.

At the same time, SPS Communications Coordinator Barry Fuxa told the News Press that district officials were conducting their own investigation.

The district declined to provide any other information about the incident or any disciplinary action that might have been taken, citing legal requirements to keep personnel and student records confidential.

Fields has been employed with Stillwater Public Schools since 1991. He has served as a classroom teacher and as assistant principal and principal at various school sites, including Stillwater High School, Lincoln Academy and Stillwater Junior High School.

He also served as the girls soccer coach at Stillwater High School 2005-2013.

Fields was transferred from the high school to the junior high as an assistant principal in 2013 and became the junior high principal in 2014.

“He’s been with the district a long time so resignation is a big move,” Long said.

Graalman, speaking for the school board, said the matter had been resolved to the members’ satisfaction.

According to a statement released by the school district on Friday, former junior high assistant principal and current athletic director for Stillwater Public Schools Brian Warwick will fill the role of principal until winter break. Assistant principals Dane Sallaska and Shandi Treat will continue in their current roles.

An interim principal for the spring semester will be named later.

The district will begin a search to hire a new junior high principal for the 2020-2021 school year.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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