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Shepherd resigns as GHS principal

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jennifer Shepherd
For the second time in 2012, Greencastle High School is changing principals.

GHS principal Jennifer Shepherd tendered her resignation on Tuesday, Dec. 4, effective immediately.

Greencastle superintendent Lori Richmond confirmed the resignation to the Banner Graphic.

No reason was given publicly for Shepherd's resignation, with Richmond only saying Shepherd would be "pursing opportunities elsewhere."

The change of administration comes suddenly, just eight months after the Greencastle School Board selected Shepherd to replace Randy Corn and only five months after her duties officially began.

The superintendent said a plan has already taken shape to fill the need for a principal at the high school.

"We have a strong plan in place to keep taking care of our students and our staff," Richmond said.

Middle school principal Tamra Walker is set to replace Shepherd at the high school.

In Walker's place, assistant superintendent Dawn Puckett will take over at Greencastle Middle School.

"Both of those individuals are very excited to be moving into the slots they are," Richmond said.

No official action can be taken on the transfers until the school board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12, but Richmond said her recommendation that the board appoint Walker and Puckett to the new positions will be on next week's agenda.

If approval is made, the administrators will take over their new duties on Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Assistant principal Russ Hesler will take care of the principal's duties for the remainder of the semester.

Tamra Walker
In her third year as a Greencastle principal, Walker will now take over her third school. She was appointed the Ridpath Primary School principal in 2010 before moving to the middle school in 2011.

Prior to these appointments, she spent five years as Tzouanakis Intermediate School principal and one year in the split assignment of assistant principal at GHS and GMS.

"Mrs. Walker really wanted to work with the high school at some point and so now she has that chance," Richmond said.

For her part, Walker expressed her confidence in Greencastle High School in the face of the recent turnover in leadership.

"I just want to reassure our students, our teachers, our parents and community members, that we are certainly sensitive to their issues and needs," Walker said, "and that we're going to work with all we've got to make things better and to regain their confidence so that we can move forward and continue our tradition of quality education for not only the middle school and high school, but all of our schools."

She also expressed her gratitude and readiness to serve her alma mater.

"As an alum and a servant-oriented leader, I feel it's my duty to step up and do my best to offer assistance to the school and community in any way that I can," Walker said.

The move to principal would appear from the outside to be a step back for Puckett, who is in her fifth year as assistant superitendent. However, had already given some thought to finding her way back to the middle school.

"Mrs. Puckett really wanted to get back to a principal slot," Richmond said. "That began much earlier than we knew we'd have an opening. So we accelerated her wish and her professional goals to be able to be back in a principal position since we did have this change."

Puckett expressed joy at returning to the middle school setting.

"I was a teacher at Greencastle Middle School for 17 years," she said. "It is my love and my passion. Middle school students are invigorating to me. I am very thrilled about the opportunity."

Puckett also spent four years as a tech integrator for the school prior to becoming assistant superintendent. She laughed thinking of the years she spent at GMS and the time that has passed.

"A lot of these kids, I probably taught their parents," Puckett said. "It's come full circle. I feel very much like I'm going home."

Part of that homecoming will be keeping the school on track, as it raised its state assessment from a D to a C in the last year.

"Under Mrs. Walker's leadership, they have been growing and improving, so we want to continue on that path," Puckett said. "We want to not only stay the course, but continue to review what we're doing and look for better opportunities to improve."

Richmond also said the school might also be ready to move forward on replacing Puckett as assistant superintendent.

During a Monday evening executive session, the board apparently interviewed a candidate for the position. No name of the candidate has been released, but Richmond said she could have a recommendation for the board by next Wednesday.

"The assistant superintendent position focuses on curriculum, technology and grants," Richmond said. "We're looking for a very strong individual."

The superintendent also stressed the importance of the Jan. 2 effective date for the new appointments, saying there is much work to be done in the coming weeks.

"Everyone has some important jobs they need to wrap up before the end of the year," Richmond said. "As of today (Wednesday), both Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Puckett are full-tilt planning for their new building. They have through December to get up to speed, make sure everything's set and then working on any plans necessary."

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Sounds like the superintendent has it all planned out. Now to get her puppets to do the appointing.

All said and done before the board even meets? Who is next to go?

Wake up parents and start attending the school board meetings. Make them tell what isn't being said in the paper.

The principal just happened to resign? I think not. Too many good people leaving the school system. Find out why before it's too late!!!

-- Posted by dandygrandy on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 12:46 AM

I doubt she "resigned". The word is that she was told to resign or get fired! Just like everyone else that has left. She fires everyone that crosses her path. Let's get rid of her and her board. This newspaper needs to be covering and investigating this situation with a close eye. As a parent and citizen of this school district I want to know what is going on; what is REALLY going on. Let's see the Banner-Graphic step and do some investigating.

-- Posted by whatsupdoc on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 9:37 AM

I think you hit the nail on the head dandygrandy so why can't the school board see that?? I like all the moves, now if we would just move on up to the top!! Can our school system hold together until all these changes are made??? I just hope so. GOOD LUCK TO ALL IN YOUR NEW POSITIONS. Sure hope this works better for everyone especially the STUDENTS. After all the students are building their future and they need to get as much positive learning as possible. God bless you all.

-- Posted by waepc on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 9:55 AM

Why are the comments concerning the supt. and board being erased? The public has the right to be concerned and voice their opinions as such. Is the paper assisting the board and supt. in covering up malice toward the teachers and staff from this corp who disagree with the current disruptive policies?

Only those administrators and teachers who have the best interest of students at heart seem to be untouched. This would not include the administrator who is being moved to the high school. Every other building was glad to see her go. Why is she now being moved to a building already in distress?

-- Posted by makingadifference on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 10:50 AM

Are people aware of how two board members bully anyone who takes a stand against what is happening? They need to resign immediately.

-- Posted by justasking on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 11:12 AM

Isn't Democracy Grand!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by jbastian on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 11:56 AM

Want change? Let the board know! Start attending the school board meetings, and make them hear your concerns. Here's the petition that was posted on the previous article.


-- Posted by gcblahger on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 12:05 PM

Next School Board Meeting:

Wed., December 12, 2012

7:30 p.m.

GCSC Administrative Conference Room

-- Posted by gcblahger on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 12:08 PM

Once again.....You all do realize that the school board is NOT elected here....they vote in their own members....effectively taking the public out of the public school system. Your voices and arguments mean little. Until the board becomes a publicly elected position....you will always have more of the same....

-- Posted by J_Mason on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 1:20 PM

This is almost as good as stuff from Cloverdale, I thought Greencastle was ran perfectly.

-- Posted by cloverman on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 4:39 PM

How. Can. You go to the. Meetings when they wont let you in. I personally spoke to mrs shepard on Monday and she told me to come on on wed to talk to her o dont think she would've said that if she was Resigning my kids want to move they aren't. Thinking about the kids

-- Posted by poorkids on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 6:03 PM

@ makingadifference....The Banner has published two articles about this using the same header but now this particular article includes more details, as promised. I do not believe posts are being removed, there are just two different articles now that are being "posted" to.

Anyway, there have been many staff members who are now gone, who absolutely had the students best interest at heart. It is not just the "untouched". Those who are left seem to be laying low out of fear of losing their jobs (or quietly looking for another job).

-- Posted by kbmom on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 6:09 PM

Rumor has it the person to be recommended for asst. superintendent went to school with the superintendent. If that's the case once again buddy boy system at work again!

-- Posted by wasabi on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 7:59 PM

My earlier post has been erased. It was NOT offensive unless you cannot handle the simple truths: 1. how many GHS principals in the last 4 years, 2. new athletic director had no experience and was a former board member. 3 $2,000,000 in un-deposited checks 4. teachers have low morale AND must teach our kids, 5. GHS guidance counselor situation is sad with losing Shannon Fritz (?) and then Smith suddenly resigns in October 6. the board was caught violating the open door policy.

NEWS FLASH: sorry for the scoop B-G. Dr. Richmond given a raise and 3 year contract extension . . .

Why does Mrs Walker commute? She might be great; but it would be nice to have our school leaders live in our community.

-- Posted by befree2think on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 8:58 PM

Correction, there are 2 articles and my earlier post is on the "other" story. not sure why B-G cannot combine them...?

-- Posted by befree2think on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 9:02 PM

1)Board positions are appointed by Township Trustees. The Board only appoints replacements when a position is vacated mid-term. That appointee is only in office until the next term comes open -- then it goes back to the Trustees' office. I challenge all of you to apply and go through the interview process the next time a term is open. (Maybe some of you already have and were turned down - would explain some of the comments posted. Real concern for the Corporation/students or personal grudge? )

2)I am sure there are personnel issues that the Board and Superintendent are not legally able to discuss with the public (ever heard of personnel privacy law?). Have you ever considered that maybe (most of) these employees have performed badly and left the administration with no choice but to let them go? Kudos to these public servants for not saying anything for the dignity of the employee and leaving themselves open to all of this public ridicule.

3)I am glad to see an administration with enough concern for the Corporation to take actions against under-performing individuals, for once! In the private sector -- this is called effective management! I'm sure that's what's inflaming some concerns - but those who work well, should have nothing to worry about. Like it or not, there are State standards that have to be met and I'm glad our Administration is sticking to them. Maybe that's why we've recently achieved the excellent grades of four A's and one C (one point away from a B). Do you know of any other local Corporation performing this well? Who was in charge when these improvements were made?

4)Ever heard of slander - - probably why the Banner removes personal charges against these individuals - - smart move by the Banner if you ask me.

5)Bullying or standing ground and doing what they are legally bound to do? Too many people talk when they are not supposed to -- especially in small towns. And others take the easy road of being an armchair coach! These public servants take too much criticism for things they cannot legally defend themselves against. A day in their shoes (or any management position) might do you all some good!

-- Posted by AnotherThought on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 9:44 PM

Just wait until the next set of headhunters are in place in the high school and central office. Richmond wants to extend her contract by another three years??? Haven't we bought out enough administrator contracts over the years? We can't afford more of these pitiful decisions. And yes, once again, the board and Richmond are guilty of violating laws. Since when can you interview for a position which does NOT even exist (not open yet)?

-- Posted by rukiddingme3 on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 10:22 PM

AnotherThought: I understand your overall sentiments.

However, why would I or anyone else just show up empty handed to a public board meeting expecting the get the real stories? I if we asked the tough 60 Minutes style questions, we would appear hostile instead of frustrated and CONCERNED parents or community members.

My perspective is that a lot of unfortunate events have occurred in the past year or 2 and without a real explanation or admission of error. This whole "resigning" episode is sooo symbolic. It seems contrived. Who hired Shepard in the first place? Same question for Randall Korn? Who hired the dude that failed to deposit checks? Why was the athletic director hired with no prior experience? Why do the teachers I talk to and that my kids loved, now dread their workplace? That they will get written up for trivial stuff? How did Mr Smith endure the brutal one man show ALL summer, do his best, only to throw in the towel in October? Why was the very talented Shannon Fritz allowed/forced to leave? Why the violation of the open door policy? Why the chaos to register the children at the beginning of this year at GHS?

Sorry, the number and magnitude of these problems seems unprecedented in my 30+ years of paying taxes in Greencastle.

No, I cannot walk in the shoes of a school board member or anyone else. And yes, the school board members are volunteers for a thankless job. But that does NOT excuse their record nor the lack of accountability. And while you suggest a frustrating requirement for the board's silence, they must know that that their muted voices only fan the flame of distrust everywhere.

Thus, asking anyone to simply trust Dr Richmond or the board just one more time, is daunting - without some serious, meaningful dialogue. (And no, not the scripted dribble on a recorded phone call - please.)

Just my opinion . . .

-- Posted by befree2think on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 10:46 PM


Do you attend board meetings? Do you know what is REALLY going on with GCSC. Your comments sound like you have been listening to the wrong people. The school board represents the taxpayers of this community. It seems that you are using past quotes of the Superintendent. A personal grudge is what she said was Mr. Slaughter's problem when he brought forward allegations regarding her decisions. Slander is what Richmond, White and Dean threatened Tyler Wade with when he tried to get answers and wrote a letter to the editor regarding the issues. Yes, there were issues that she had to address when she took over from Dr. Green. Maybe she should have started with the school board who conveniently didn't know what was going on? They didn't know what was going on during his tenure so they did the next best thing in giving her full control of anything within the corporation that needs to be addressed but she doesn't need to consult the school board! When pressed for answers she refuses to address them. When the taxpayers get their "two minutes and you may not ask the same question that someone else has" of comments (oh I know, the school board doesn't have to let us speak.)Dean and White are condescending and disrespectful with comments like "you people". The board meetings are a farce and nothing but a lesson in frustration.

Do actions need to be taken against under performing employees? Yes! Do those employees need to be humiliated, screamed at, threatened? Do the teachers have to meet requirements set by the Department of Education? Yes! Are they working on meeting the state standards and improving school scores? Yes! Improvements have been made because the asst. superintendent, principals, teachers and support staff are working hard to make those improvements. Your statement of "I'm glad our Administration is sticking to them" Really? Our administration has always been sticking to the guidelines and requirements of the department of education and ALWAYS made the education of the GCSC students a priority long before Richmond was hired.That's one of the reasons she stated she wanted to come to Greencastle. All local school corporations are always working hard to improve. This is not a competition between the county schools. The superintendent's leadership/management skills are poor. Does GCSC have an exit interview with all of the employees that have resigned? We all know that many personnel issues are confidential. However, when teachers,guidance counselors, secretaries,custodians, instructional aides, mainenance personnel are resigning at a record pace, maybe it is time to look at the real issues. Why did the entire technology staff resign within the past two months? Why did Mrs. Fritz and Mr. Smith resign? Why did at least three secretaries in separate buildings resign? Why did a special education teacher recently resign? Why did the spanish teacher and engineering teacher recently resign? Why have many former employees had to hire an attorney to get the pay and or benefits that they are entitled to? None of these employees were under performing their duties. Dr. Richmond states that her faculty and staff members know that she has an open door policy and she will listen to any and all concerns at any time. That sounds wonderful but is the farthest thing from the truth. The faculty and staff ARE afraid of her and her bullying tactics. According to her own statements, she said that when she found the notes that Dr. Green made regarding un approved pay raises, she knew she had a big job to do. What superintendent makes a list of corrections that need to be made regarding personnel and titles it the "Tornado List"? Is that any way to handle difficult personnel pay/salary changes? I think not!! This superintendent does not deserve to have her contract renewed for an additonal 3 years.

If you have not been attending school board meetings then that is part of the problem but it is not too late.


Thank you to the school board members that are trying to make a difference. Your hard work and dedication are much appreciated. The "public servants" that can't handle the questions, answers, and/or criticism need to step down.

-- Posted by statethefacts on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 10:59 PM

Yes I also wonder why so many good paying and high profile positions are filled with out of town commuters. From positions in associations, to factories to the schools, so many live out of town/county. Guess thats really does speak to our community? I assume that their children may go to another school system?

When this happens we our community looses out in so many ways in tax revenues to new tax base with maybe new home construction and so much more just in spending their hard earned cash in Greencastle, Buy Local, think not with these commuters.

-- Posted by macvrod on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 11:15 PM

The picture is starting to get a little clearer:

Now that the music has stopped and all but one chair is taken:

Who will be the assistant superintendent?

The information brought forward so far:

A person who's focus will need to be on curriculum

A person who has been interviewed, by the board

A person who is "connected" to the superintendent

What we understand about our superintendent:

Whoever is hired will be manipulated by the superintendent

The person was hand selected to be interviewed

Given the propensities of the superintendent, it will be women

Most likely the woman will hold a doctorate (to add credibility to the selection)

The candidate will be within 20 miles of Greencastle (was interviewed on a Monday in the late afternoon)

In order for this person to have credibility, they will have to have central office experience in the area of curriculum and assessment.

So which school systems within 20 miles has a female assistant superintendent, who deals with curriculum and assessment, has a doctorate, and has a "connection" to the superintendent?

-- Posted by Gelt on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 11:48 PM

Why is Hessler always chosen to run the school in the interim? Why is he always being passed over? Maybe he doesn't want the job? I don't know but it would be interesting to know why he is always "second". Here you can run this place in the interim, but not good enough to run the place, period.

-- Posted by stealthmode on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 8:17 AM

Where is the building that will play host to the next board meeting? Is it the old Miller School? (OK, so now I'm telling my age)

-- Posted by stealthmode on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 8:42 AM

Meetings are at Ridpath

-- Posted by justhavetoask on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 10:52 AM

The board website with their by laws ponits to two indiana codes that I simply can not find about appointment.


Members shall be qualified and elected in accordance with the Corporation's Reorganization Plan adopted in August 1, 1954. (I.C. 20-33-4.27 or 4.35.)

-- Posted by J_Mason on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 1:02 PM

Members shall be qualified and elected in accordance with the Corporation's Reorganization Plan adopted in August 1, 1954. (I.C. 20-33-4.27 or 4.35.)

I am not sure but this may be in reference to positions on the board:




-- Posted by Gelt on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 1:14 PM

Greencastle schools sound like North Putnam's problems with MARY SUGGS LOVEJOY.

-- Posted by oldlady on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 7:02 PM

I can remember a time in GSCS when principals were in their jobs for years and when everybody got along and cooperated. YOu cannot run a school like a corporation. Too many colleges and universities are using this model and are firing people outright and are therby failing the students. I hope GHS does not have to follow this model. I hope that parents, teachers and administrators can work together to restore academic excellence to GHS.

-- Posted by nordicheart on Sat, Dec 8, 2012, at 9:34 AM

I remember when Greencastle School Corporation was a respected place to work and for children to learn. I am appalled that the entire community knows that it is now a hostile work environment for all teachers and staff who work there. There probably should be a giant neon sign in front of each school in the corporation saying, "Hostile Work Environment". And WHAT ABOUT THE STUDENTS? Is this affecting learning? You Betcha!

My other question is for the School Board. Are you actually talking to your employees? Not just those at the Central Office, but those who are in the trenches working? Are you listening to what they are saying? The entire town is aware of unfair things going on within the schools. SCHOOL BOARD! PAY! ATTENTION!

-- Posted by maizie on Mon, Dec 10, 2012, at 2:13 PM

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