Bullying played a role in leadership change at Ames middle school

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AMES – The principal at Ames Middle School is out, but the district only told parents it was a change in leadership, nothing else.

This decision comes after bullying allegations happening at the school. On Tuesday, the district is confirming that bullying did play a role in replacing Principal Dan Fox. 

Parents are feeling both confused and left in the dark about not getting more information about Fox’s sudden departure.

“(There’s) a lot of curiosity coming out for myself, my husband and even family members that don’t have any direct correlation with the middle school other than through our children are asking what’s going on,” said parent, Amanda Telesford. “And we’re like we have no answers for you. Can’t tell you anything other than this email we got.”

The school district sent us two statements that say that concerns had come to their attention and there would be a change in leadership. 

Director fo School, Community and Media Relations Eric Smidt confirmed to Local 5 that bullying was part of this decision.

But parents weren’t informed of that in the email they got about Fox being replaced. 

“We do deserve to know why the principal isn’t here anymore,” Telesford said.

Telesford has two kids at Ames Middle School. And says she struggled to get through to the staff when her daughter had a conflict with another student.

“If there is an issue with another student, another teacher whatever it may be an actual resolution to it instead of like I said swept under the rug,” she said.

Now Amanda questions the timing of Fox’s departure, as do other parents. Especially in light of an anonymous online petition on Change.org titled “Make Ames Middle School a safer place for its LGBTQIA+ students!” that was directed toward the former principal.

In the post, the author states that they are a transgender male, who often still gets labeled as female, and alleges that homophobic comments are made in the halls and people are being bullied because of their sexuality. 

“You want the kids to want to come to school and if they are being bullied that is obviously going to deter their education,” said Telesford.

Local 5 asked if the school district could give us any specifics about what led to replacing Fox, but due to personnel reasons couldn’t comment.

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