Mystery, and even frustration by at least one parent, continued to shroud the unexpected absence of Waggoner school principal Ken Helling and the announcement by Kyrene district officials that he no longer will serve in the position.
A letter signed by district assistant superintendent Patricia Weegar was mailed to parents in December, saying that Helling “remains on leave of absence and will not be returning to Waggoner Elementary School.”
To replace Helling, district officials appointed Heidi Williams as interim principal. Williams will be assisted by Barbara Johnston, former principal at Mirada Elementary School who recently has been teaching at Waggoner.
Kelly Alexander, the district’s director of community education, said it is standard practice for interim appointments to continue until the end of the current school year. In the meantime, she said, the district will seek a fulltime replacement who presumably would take over the job on a permanent basis at the start of the next school year in August.
At least one Waggoner parent, meanwhile, expressed aggravation over the district’s refusal to answer questions about the reason for Helling’s departure.
Jill Cohen said she was told by an assistant superintendent that she could not discuss the Helling matter because it is a personnel issue. “If Mr. Helling wants to discuss it, that’s up to him,” Cohen said she was told.
A web site, Parents 4 Ken Helling.com, has been set up, but as of Jan. 7 the site’s only content is the advisory “Coming Soon.” According to records, the site was registered Dec. 22 by Kirk Busch, who lists a Ray Road address.
A person outside the district who is familiar with school-related personnel matters in general said unexplained departures often are related to what the district considers unacceptable behavior between staff members and have nothing to do with students or other children.
The reasons for Helling’s departure remain unclear, and there was no indication whether he will be reassigned elsewhere in the district.