A group of students from Browning High School staged a walkout and protest at the Browning Schools Administration building on Tuesday, Nov. 10, just hours ahead of the Browning School Board meeting at 5 p.m. They carried signs urging Board members to reinstate former Activities Director Everett Armstrong and opposed the Board’s proposed action to replace Armstrong with former AD Tony Wagner as an interim director.
Mr. Armstrong was transferred out of his position by Superintendent Corrina Guardipee-Hall through a legal mechanism that allows such a move as long as the person is transferred, not terminated. In such a case, the matter does not come before the Board of Trustees for discussion unless the Board votes to allow it.
Armstrong filed a grievance asking his case be heard by the Board, but Chairman Brian Gallup wrote him a letter denying his request.
In addition to numerous students attending the meeting Tuesday evening, a petition was circulated that garnered more than 1,000 signatures all asking that Armstrong’s case be heard. Some of the students were allowed to voice their support for Armstrong, but others’ statements were deemed “personal” by the Chairman who disallowed their comments.
Former Board member Wendy BullChild questioned the policy of allowing the Superintendent to effect such transfers outside the Board’s authority, saying the matter had come up many times during her tenure but was never put on the agenda as an action item. She said the Board should act as a check on administration, and the policy as used violates due process.
Board member Donna Yellow Owl concurred, saying that her rights as a Board member were being denied through the administrative action. She offered a motion to hear Armstrong’s side of the story, but it did not receive a second. Board member Rae Armstrong noted she could not second the motion as it would be seen as nepotism.
The meeting grew more heated when it came to hiring Tony Wagner to replace Armstrong. Yellow Owl said Armstrong was being treated unfairly and that the position should not be considered to be open.
BullChild echoed that sentiment, asserting Wagner would be hired to a position that is not currently open. She noted the students who’d come to voice their opinions and complained about Mr. Wagner’s performance as AD in prior years.
The Chairman determined her remarks to be “personal” and not allowed. With folks objecting loudly, the Chairman declared the meeting “is out of control” and called a recess.
Upon returning, the Board voted 5-2 to hire Tony Wagner as the Interim AD, with Rae Armstrong and Yellow Owl voting against the action.